Thursday 21 November 2019

John Boland: A hard-hitting interview on 'Late Late Show' is a very rare affair

Host Ryan Tubridy greeting Boyzone singer Ronan Keating on the 'Late Late Show' on Friday night. RTE

Personally, I couldn't give two hoots if Ronan Keating had been having it away with the entire cast of 'Glee' -- a sentiment that I'm sure would be echoed by any sensible person who's long been bored to distraction by the peccadilloes of pop stars.

So I wasn't distraught when, on Friday night's 'Late Late Show', Ryan Tubridy neglected to quiz Keating about the affair that earned him tabloid notoriety -- it would all have been too tacky and tedious to contemplate, let alone endure.

That, of course, is not to say that Tubridy shouldn't have directly addressed the elephant in the room, and the fact that he didn't is what has been outraging all those tweeters who have damned him for dereliction of journalistic duty.

They've got it wrong, of course, because, despite the fact that Tubridy's television show consists largely of interviews, he's not a journalist in the real sense and has never pretended to be. Instead, he's a facilitator of the entertainment industry, an eager enthusiast who's always been determinedly soft in his approach to the celebrity culture that provides him with very lucrative employment.

He's not alone in this. Michael Parkinson built a lengthy career in schmoozing with the rich and famous, as did Terry Wogan, and while the latter-day likes of Jonathan Ross and Graham Norton have opted for a style of cheeky irreverence, behind the veneer, the same adoration of celebrity prevails.

So, too, with Tubridy. Indeed, although he belongs to the media, Tubridy is at pains to distance himself from certain aspects of his profession, notably newspapers, and the most revealing moment in his interview with Keating came when he asked the pop singer if "the press" gave him an easier time in Australia and other foreign places than when he's at home.

Ah, the dreadful press. It's clear that, in Tubridy's mind, "the press" are a troublesome lot who have the effrontery to publish stories about public figures that might displease such figures. Good television journalists, of which RTE has many, do the same, of course, though not in the less than brave new world of light entertainment, where jumped-up stars call the shots and must be flattered at all times by avidly compliant broadcasters, otherwise known as fans with microphones.

Or, to put it another way, when was the last time you witnessed a hard-hitting, or even rigorous, interview on the 'Late Late Show'?

Irish Independent

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