| 5.3°C Dublin

Operation Transformation returns ... but can Kathryn fill Gerry Ryan's shoes?

RTE's hit show Operation Transformation is returning to our TV screens, despite the passing of the show's former presenter Gerry Ryan.

The Herald can reveal the hit programme will definitely feature in the station's schedule.

RTE won't reveal its autumn 2010 schedule until later today but the weight-loss programme will certainly be on the menu.

And when it comes to possible presenters, former No Frontiers host Kathryn Thomas is one of the names being mooted to fill the gap left by the late broadcaster.

"She has an opening in her schedule now that her travel show is being rested for a year and she has the right kind of personality for that kind of show as she's very good with average members of the public," said an insider.

"RTE is definitely eager to see a female presenter in the role and Kathryn is one of the names being mentioned in the mix. She's a household name and she is RTE's golden girl so would be a strong contender."

However, the weight-loss programme will be given a considerable overhaul when it comes back later in the year. It's understood that it will also run without its usual link-in to the 2FM radio show.

"Gerry really made that show his own, he worked hard at making it such a big success and the fact that it linked in to his radio show in the mornings gave it an even bigger profile," said a source.

"This is a show that really caught the imagination of the Irish public and like everything else, life goes on and things can just hang in limbo. Its Facebook page still has 12,000 members, people are still following the diet plans online and it has evolved into something more than just a TV show.

"RTE only recently decided they were definitely bringing back the show and now the onus is on finding the right person for the job."

Gerry's sudden passing last April has left a gaping hole in the TV schedule, and management scrambling to fill his 2FM radio slot, which will be taken over by Ryan Tubridy at the end of this month.

One of the biggest ratings winners for the station, Operation Transformation during its RTE run regularly pulled in hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Pre-production on the weight-loss show used to start in the autumn with the contestants first unveiled on the Gerry Ryan Show in November, and the TV show airing in January.

It was run in conjunction with a popular website, which attracted three million hits during its last outing.

The line-up for this year's programme was expanded, with new additions to the five team leaders.

As well as members of the public the weight-loss programme include a group of politicians, a mums' group and Galway taxi drivers taking up the challenge.

They fought the battle of the bulge with the help of four experts: fitness guru Karl Henry, weight-loss expert Dr Eva Orsmond, psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy and motivational coach Enda McNulty.