Saturday 20 October 2018

Tubridy Tonight Rings in the New Year

Paul Whitington

So far as I'm concerned, only the very young and the extremely foolish venture outside the house on New Year's Eve.

WC Fields famously called it "amateur night," by which he meant that on that awful eve, people not accustomed to heavy drinking would cram into bars in silly hats, shouting and throwing up and generally ruining it for dedicated professionals like himself. And he has a point.

If Christmas Day is the happiest of the year (although this is debatable), New Year's Eve is the messiest. People wind themselves up into an ecstasy of expectation, imagining that something significant is going to accompany the ending of the year.

They're invariably disappointed, and end up at strange parties or walking home at three in the morning or cheering wildly in a pub at midnight about nothing in particular.

For what are we so frantically celebrating? The English essayist Charles Lamb wondered why people were so keen to blithely toast the passing of a year which, however difficult, at least contained no more hidden horrors, and thoughtlessly embrace a new one that might turn out to be 10 times worse than the last (2009, if we are to believe the dire economic forecasts, being a perfect case in point).

It's all very strange, and exposing yourself to the horrors of a New Year's Eve out among the mindless revellers is my idea of an unending trip to the dentist.

So stay in, bar the door, raid the fridge and plonk yourself in front of the television.

There are a couple of decent films on, and on BBC2, Jools Holland's annual Hootenanny musical celebration will include the likes of Annie Lennox, Lily Allen and the classic Motown group Martha and the Vandellas.

Over on RTE, meanwhile, Ryan Tubridy will be hosting a special New Year's Eve edition of his chat show. It's the first time the national broadcaster has undertaken a live New Year's Eve broadcast in quite some time, and it kicks off on RTE2 at 11pm.

When he first started the chat show four years back, Tubridy and the producers pitched the programme much younger than The Late Late Show. They borrowed the idea of a house band and the informal bantering style, from US entertainers like David Letterman and Conan O'Brien. This suited Ryan Tubridy's personality, and in the Camembert Quartet he found an excellent permanent band.

The programme revamped its look earlier this year, and has been hampered only by the search for decent guests, a perennial problem for Irish chat shows.

But I like Tubridy's interviewing style. He's not afraid to have a bit of fun with his guests, and is quite happy to make fun of himself as well. And he's very good at interacting with his audience, which is just as well as the show involves regular trips into the cheap seats for quizzes and games, an activity not all TV presenters find easy.

Ryan does, and in this live show there'll be the usual rowdy nonsense, as well as a range of guests that will include illusionist Keith Barry and music from Seventies warbler Leo Sayer. Remember him? I'm sorry to say I do.

Happy New Year.

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