Monday 19 February 2018

Tubridy insists future is on this side of Irish Sea

I won't quit RTE for the Beeb, says chat star

HE'S AT HIS AUNTIE'S: Presenter Ryan Tubridy at the BBC
HE'S AT HIS AUNTIE'S: Presenter Ryan Tubridy at the BBC


A defiant Ryan Tubridy -- currently standing in for motormouth DJ Chris Evans on BBC Radio 2 -- insists he is not on the verge of quitting RTE and his ambitions lie in making The Late Late Show and his under-pressure 2FM radio slot better than ever.

He's faced sharp criticism at home in the last 12 months but insists he won't be moving across the Irish Sea, where he is very highly rated.

"I need to sort out my short term and that is to say I want to make The Late Late Show and the radio show better so I don't have laurels to sit on, I have to earn them and I have wings to earn. When I have got them I will think about the next thing but I can't think about the next thing until I have got this thing sorted. I just want to get these things right, my ambition is really short-term in that sense," he said, in what appeared to be a tacit admission that his RTE TV and radio shows could be better.

He began working his magic, covering for Evans on May 7 this year, whose show goes live on air from 6.30am until 9.30am each morning.

In total, he will lend his services to the Beeb for around four or five weeks throughout the summer.

It's his third contract in two years with the BBC. Last July, Ryan covered for Graham Norton and over his Christmas holidays for Scottish presenter Ken Bruce.

"I am happy to come across and do pieces here and there, I don't see a long-term existence in London; I'm a home bird, I love Ireland and have a lot of commitments in Ireland that I am very happy with and I would be very shocked if there was a move to the UK, very shocked.

"I'm just enjoying the tripping over and back bit."

And he says the issue hardly arises because he has not been offered a full-time role at the Beeb.

"I would say it's highly unlikely as I've got a very good job in Ireland and I am really happy with my job in Ireland both in radio and television and that it would be highly unlikely that such a thing would firstly be offered and secondly be accepted."

The Sunday Independent caught up with Ryan in the learned surroundings of the British Library in London, the world's largest collection of published documents, where he is researching his "mystery second book" which will be released in Autumn next year.

"It involves Ireland, Britain and popular culture. So it makes sense that I'm here," he said.

He loves the challenge of working for the BBC.

"It's a change of scene, change of environment and it's nice to have a go at something else," he says adding that it would be strange if he didn't get the jitters.

"I think you would be a fool not to be a bit nervous, I'm shy of 200,000 listeners on 2FM and shy of 10 million here -- so nervousness of course comes into it."

His mentor and predecessor Gay Byrne was offered a lot of work in America during the mid-Eighties, which he turned down -- a decision he may still regret. Could this be why Ryan is taking advantage of every opportunity that presents itself?

"I don't reflect on what Gay did or didn't do internationally, I just rather selfishly look at my own back yard."

The commute to London has had "minimal" impact on his family life and relationships. He is a separated father of two young daughters, Ella and Julia, and an on-off boyfriend for four years to former Rose of Tralee Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain, who he refers to as an "impressive woman, there is no doubt about that".

The science and maths teacher is currently presenting The Science Squad on RTE.

"Aoibhinn's programme is going very well, she was tailor made for it and she is doing exactly what somebody of her ability should be doing, which is making a complicated subject less complicated and even I understood half an episode recently."

As of next season, a new producer, John McHugh, is been brought in to oversee The Late Late.

"I think that if you have the most-watched programme on Irish television in 2012, you would want to think long and hard before you start fixing something. I would tread carefully."

He is philosophical about criticism in the media, thinks most media are generally fair to him but admits some attacks have hurt.

"They give me a slap on the back and a slap on the face and if you can do both I can understand it, if you are just consistently slapping in the face, I don't think that is good journalism, so I've stopped listening to certain things, buying certain things and reading certain things and when you do that the toxicity seems to evaporate," he said.

Sunday Independent

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