Maxed out: RTE's early riser takes extended leave
All those early morning starts seem to have finally caught up on RTE radio presenter Maxi. The veteran broadcaster's early morning slot Risin' Time is being hosted by Lillian Smith while she catches up on rest time.
An RTE spokesperson last night revealed: "Maxi is currently on extended leave, and we're expecting her back in a few weeks' time. In the meantime Lillian is sitting in for her."
But the station didn't give any reason as to why the former singer was taking at least six weeks away from the early morning programme.
However, it is believed that the presenter hasn't fully recovered from a bad dose of flu she got near the end of summer.
A close friend, who did not want to be named, revealed: "It's definitely a health issue, but fortunately it's not too serious. She had a very severe virus some time ago but couldn't wait to get back to work as she loves it so much.
"Basically, it looks like she came back before she had fully recovered and is now suffering the consequences. Her doctor has told her to take complete bed rest for a few weeks and not to think of work for the time being."
Rising Time runs from 5.30am to 7am five days a week. This means a 3.30am alarm call for the broadcaster, and she recently revealed how she has a half dozen clocks in her bedroom to make sure she gets up on time. She also has an automatic pre-recorded tape of her show which clicks on automatically if she is not in the studio in time.
This may have been what happened when she fell ill late last week. Listeners heard her read out the same letter in her Maxi's Missives slot two mornings in a row, followed by the same song each time. It happened near the end of the show, before the handover to Morning Ireland. But an RTE spokesperson said that they had not heard it.
Maxi, who turned 60 last February, began her career in showbusiness as a teenager in the girl group Maxi, Dick and Twink.
It was pal Twink who suggested Maxi use her school nickname as her stage name, given that her real name of Irene McCoubrey was a bit of a mouthful. Maxi remains eternally grateful to Twink for the suggestion.
She later formed pop trio Sheeba, which represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest. The group was involved in a serious car collision on their way to a gig in Castlebar in which Maxi received extensive head injuries. After making a full recovery she decided to quit touring and pursue a job in radio broadcasting.
Maxi remains pals with fellow Sheeba singer Marion Fossett, and the pair regularly take foreign holidays together. Although Maxi is single, she still regularly dates.
She recently revealed how she often sees the bizarre sight of naked men tied to lamp posts on her way into work in the early hours.
"They're tied to lamp posts wearing nothing but a high visibility jacket after a stag do the night before. They're usually rescued by gardai or sometimes their friends come back."
"You have to have a sense of humour in this business," she added.