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Virginia won't be replaced at Stickit Inn, insist RTE

RTE has no plans to replace Virginia Macari on the Podge and Rodge Show and install a new female presenter.

As first revealed in the Herald last month, the sultry Italian designer had decided not to return to the second series of the revamped programme amid concerns about the way she was being portrayed.

Her decision not to return to the Stickit Inn as the puppet's Sicilian barmaid Gina immediately sparked speculation that her shoes would shortly be filled by another willing female. Among those mooted for the tasks were Rosanna Davison, Sarah Morrissey, Georgia Salpa and comedian Katherine Lynch.

However, the broadcaster has insisted that it will be leaving Podge and Rodge unchaperoned for the time being and will not be bringing in a replacement for Virginia.

A spokeswoman has said that producers of the RTE show are happy with its performance in the ratings following its return to the small screen this season.

"There are no plans to bring in a new female presenter for the new series," she said.

"The new series has gotten off to a great start with last Tuesday's show attracting a share of 20pc and an average audience of 170,000."

Programme chiefs decided to revamp the show and bring back the most successful aspects of the original programme amid plummetting ratings last year.

They swapped the set of Ballydung Manor for the Stickit Inn and brought in random celebrities to take part in a tongue-in-cheek table quiz with increasingly risque jokes.

Gorgeous 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, she decided that she wasn't being "creatively challenged" and producers of the programme decided to revert back to the original format after a drop in ratings.

"I had a great time doing it, it was my first time doing something like that and it was a great learning experience," she said. "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 was glad to leave behind her role as the skimpily-dressed Sicilian barmaid.