Thursday 26 April 2018

Ryan's Rose snub was thorny issue for RTE bosses

Gerry Ryan: provocative interview to be aired on March 30
Gerry Ryan: provocative interview to be aired on March 30

Ken Sweeney Entertainment Editor

GERRY Ryan spent much of his career upsetting his bosses at RTE.

And so it continued in one of his last major interviews before his sudden death last year.

Rival broadcaster TV3 will broadcast an hour-long documentary next week in which the RTE star has a pop at the "people upstairs", claiming he offended management by refusing to host the 'Rose of Tralee', and that he was axed from presenting the Eurovision in 1993 because of the poor performances of his other television shows.

He also claimed colleagues in RTE had approached him to say they considered his programmes "sh*t".

In a wide-ranging interview, the outspoken broadcaster revealed he had a clause in his contract ensuring he would receive a pay rise if he was to host the 'Late Late Show' and he believed he was about to get the gig in November 2009 when he was approached by management, only to later learn that Pat Kenny's mother had died and he was only wanted as a stand-in.

"It was Eddie Doyle, head of light entertainment, who came over to me and said, 'We want you to do the 'Late Late Show' ... I always felt like an eejit as a guest on the 'Late Late Show' and that I never contributed enough even though Pat Kenny my friend presented it," he said.

"So I said, 'No'. He (Eddie) said, 'No, we want you to present it and I remember instantly going 'Yeah'. God forgive me, I didn't ask had Pat died. Or what happened there.


"It was very sad circumstances that I took over the chair the week Pat's mother died.

"I ended up doing the show, not as slick as Pat but more like Gerry Ryan on the radio, in the way that Gay Byrne did," he said.

The Clontarf man revealed he had sometimes jokingly wished his hero Gay Byrne dead so that he could present some of his programmes, including the Irish version of 'Who Wants To be A Millionaire'.

He was not so keen on the 'Rose of Tralee', however, shocking management when he turned it down

"I went, 'I would rather have my legs sawn off'," he said. "They were really deeply offended."

The offer came at a time when Ryan felt he had burnt his bridges in RTE with a series of poorly received shows, including 'Ryantown' and 'Secrets'.

"A huge amount of people in RTE despised the programme, and in fact I recall I would be walking around the campus and people would come up to me and say, 'I'm ashamed to say I work in RTE because that programme is disgusting'," he said.

He added he felt the poor performance of 'Secrets' was instrumental in the decision to axe him as presenter of the Eurovision Song Contest, the year it came from Millstreet in Cork.

Mr Ryan was found dead at his home in Dublin on April 30, 2010.

TV3 had been due to screen 'Gerry Ryan The Last Interview' last October but said delays in accessing RTE archive footage meant it would now air at 9pm on Wednesday, March 30.

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