Wednesday 24 July 2019

Michael O'Doherty: Don't believe the RTE spin, Bren's taking on Tubs ... and winning

Ryan Tubridy and Brendan O'Connor (inset)
Ryan Tubridy and Brendan O'Connor (inset)

Michael O'Doherty

Last weekend The Late Late Show welcomed as its guests: restaurateur Nick Munier, TV's Vogue Williams and Maia Dunphy, and rock band Kodaline.

The following night, on The Saturday Night Show, Brendan O'Connor's guests included George Hook, pundits Tom McGurk and Brent Pope, and Operation Transformation's Dr Ciara Kelly.

The comparison between the two guest-lists is pertinent because O'Connor's show pulled in 2,000 more viewers than Ryan that weekend.

It's an extremely unusual occurrence for RTE's flagship show to be beaten in the ratings, especially by a show which is often portrayed as the poor relation and a show over which the sword of Damocles seems to be hanging.

RTE's reaction to the news, and the embarrassment that it may be planning to axe a show just as it's reaching is peak, was predictably mealy-mouthed.

A spokesperson commented: "The Late Late Show and The Saturday Night Show air on different nights and are not in competition. The only winner this weekend was RTE with phenomenal ratings."

Which is all very well. Except that it's absolute b*****s.

Of course the two shows compete with each other. Every week there is a finite number of topical guests available and both shows want every one of them. The researchers for each show scour the week's newspapers, look for interesting, topical stories, and try to get their subjects to come on the show.

Every guest on last weekend's two shows was in the news for some reason; every one of them could have appeared on either show and still have seemed at home, and Brendan's team got the better mix.

This huge overlap between the two shows is the very reason that RTE are reportedly considering changing the Saturday night format to a more entertainment-based show.

While the media continue to speculate that Ray D'Arcy is being lined up as presenter, the national broadcaster, as is its way, continues to play dumb.

RTE instead allows the media speculate about this prospect and in so doing forces O'Connor to suffer the indignity of having to read about his possible replacement, without his employers having the decency to tell him face to face.

With The Saturday Night Show outperforming the Late Late Show perhaps it is time for RTE to come out and declare its intentions, rather than letting Brendan suffer death by a thousand cuts in the media.

As the presenter of what is currently the highest rating chat show on RTE, he deserves better than that.

If Sharon's changed her mind about leaving RTE, why won't she tell us?

While RTE continue to play dumb in relation to the future of Brendan O'Connor they have come out with far greater certainty on the subject of news anchor Sharon Ni Bheolain.

It's ironic. While Brendan has no desire to leave RTE, the station refuses to confirm that he isn't doing so, but with someone who has declared her plans to leave, they are happy to contradict those exact words.

Back in November 2013, Sharon came out with the following statement, in an interview with the RTE Guide. "It's been a very enjoyable experience, but I'm ready for something new."

More pertinently, when pressed about what she meant, she said that she was planning a career in "advocacy".

But referring to this interview last week, a spokesperson for RTE said: "In regards to what she meant, I'm afraid it's not my place to interpret Sharon's words directly.

"It is worth noting that many of our news presenters and reporters take on other projects as well as their current roles."

Now correct if me I'm wrong, but this is quite clear cut. Sharon was considering leaving RTE.

There is no need to "interpret Sharon's words" and, obviously, if she were pursuing a new career, it would necessitate her giving up TV presenting altogether.

As a daily reader of an autocue on the Six One news, Sharon is of course used to having words put into her mouth by RTE staff.

Perhaps, away from the cameras, she is happy for her bosses to do exactly the same thing.

All of this does, however, beg one simple question. If Sharon has changed her mind about leaving the RTE newsroom, why doesn't she just come out and say so herself?

Kim who? We need a new leading lady

The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival have just announced their guest of honour for 2015. With so much uncertainty surrounding this year's IFTAs, one looked forward to the organisers seizing the initiative and pulling out a big name.

So this year, we're getting former Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall. Kim last appeared in Ireland at the IFTAs in 2011 and, even then, people were suggesting that her time had passed somewhat, given the fact that the show for which she is known ended in 2004.

But 11 years later, Jameson have secured her services. That's some coup.

I NOTE that TV3 are this week re-airing the series of Celebrity Come Dine with Me that featured yours truly. I make this point because it was made in November 2011, aired in April 2012, and nearly three years later, they are repeating it (for the umpteenth time).

Presumably they either consider it to be a timeless masterpiece, or they are so desperately short of shows to fill their screens that any old junk will do. There is one plus to be gained from the station's determination to repeat the show ad infinitum. At some stage in the future, people will tune in and revel in Shane Byrne's mullet. I'm guessing that, by 2028, it will probably be back in fashion.

(The Herald)

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