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Virginia quits role as Podge and Rodge not challenging enough

Virginia Macari has said 'Ciao' to RTE's Podge and Rodge show -- because she wasn't being "creatively challenged".

The Diary can exclusively reveal how the TV presenter and socialite (33) will not be returning to the screens of the cheesy chat show after deciding the programme -- and her role as a skimpily dressed barmaid -- just wasn't right for her.

The Italian explained how, after much soul-searching, she came to the decision to call last orders on the irreverent duo's revamped show, which was filmed around the set of the Stickit Inn.

"I just felt I wasn't being creatively challenged with my role on the show so I met with the producer this week and told her I had decided not to continue it. I don't think she was that surprised to be honest," she said.

"I had a great time doing it, it was my first time doing something like that and it was a great learning experience. But when push came to shove, it just wasn't for me. It may have been great exposure but I just came to the conclusion that it was a good time to leave."

She said it was great working with the puppets' creators, Ciaran Morrison and Mick O'Hara, but she wasn't being pushed far enough in her role as Sicilian barmaid Gina.

The late-night programme has met with a decidedly mixed reaction from audiences since returning to the small screens last year with a changed format that saw minor celebrities competing in a tongue-in-cheek table quiz.

Virginia was brought on as a replacement for new mum Lucy Kennedy last October and was initially "over the moon" with her new job, her first permanent stint on the small screen.

However, producers of the programme decided to revert back to the original format after a drop in ratings revealed that the overtly sexual jokes and pub format weren't meeting with a warm response from Irish audiences.

Now question marks hang over the future of the show, which was previously one of the station's flagship programmes.

It's thought that Podge and Rodge may ditch the pub format entirely and return to its previous style of celebrity interviews in a bid to rekindle the show.

However, Virginia has no intention of letting the grass grow under her feet, given her future plans. She'll be temporarily returning to her second home of Marbella with her other half, Kaste Dahl, for a relaxing break in the sun, before putting plans in place for her next venture.

She has revealed how her new movie Doll, which was written and directed by Paolo Borza, will be the subject of a photoshoot for international fashion bible Vanity Fair.

Virginia will take centre stage in the magazine spread, which will be styled by Maria Fusco and shot in Rome within coming months.

-- MF