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Marty and Mary seek new TV doors after RTE slams shut 'Open House'

'OPEN House' presenters Marty Whelan and Mary Kennedy are planning to bounce back with new television and radio projects after RTE's shock decision to axe the popular show.

Last night the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Royston Brady, dubbed the decision "bizarre" and said it would be greeted with dismay by thousands of Dubliners for whom the programme had become part of everyday life.

He said the presenters deserved an explanation for the decision. "Both are highly talented broadcasters with proven track records and I am sure they will enjoy continued success."

Yesterday, fans of the afternoon television show jammed the phone lines to Joe Duffy's 'Liveline', dismayed and furious it had been dropped. Some were incredulous at the decision to take a show with improving ratings off the air.

Meanwhile, presenter Marty Whelan is said to be a strong contender for a new chat show on RTE Radio One. He was disappointed to hear the news about 'Open House'. He said: "Life has to go on. It's the nature of the business. You just have to get on with the next thing when news like this breaks."

He has suffered a number of setbacks during his career but has always recovered. He moved from 2FM to join the fledgling Century Radio but found himself out of a job when the station suddenly closed.

He then presented a number of shows for RTE and was rewarded with the high-profile job of presenting 'The Rose of Tralee' a role he lost last year to Ryan Tubridy.

From June he will present RTE's Lottery show, 'Fame and Fortune' which he has done for the last five years, and he is lined up to travel to America with the lottery programme. He will also travel to Turkey this year to host RTE's coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest in May.

Station insiders have indicated that his co-host, Mary Kennedy, who was voted VIP magazine's "Most Stylish Woman in Ireland" last year, is in the running for a new afternoon show.

Mary, who has four children, is busy at the moment promoting her autobiography, 'Paper Tigers', for Mother's Day.

Speaking about her career plans, she said: "I have nothing definite in the pipeline yet but I am open to offers. I love television and I am planning to continue working in TV."

Open House has been RTE's flagship afternoon show for the past six years.

The programme, whose daily viewing figures have grown by 10,000 this year, had its time slot changed to the later time of 3.30pm in the hopes of attracting a wider and younger audience, a quest it appeared to have achieved.

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