STAFF at RTE have been left furious over a decision to build a brand new set for Craig Doyle (pictured right).
The Herald can reveal that bosses at the cash-strapped station will shell out for a state-of-the-art new set, as they try out the Dublin-born star in front of the cameras for a mere eight-week stint.
The new Saturday night show is understood to be costing the station around €90,000 per episode, while insiders believe the new set could cost anything from €100,000 upwards.
Craig's new series is set to take to the airwaves on April 10, replacing Brendan O'Connor on the small screen.
The journalist turned TV star also had a brand new set built for his own eight-week stint, which will be dismantled at the end of the programme's run on March 27.
"Building another brand new set for what is essentially a pilot series has angered many staff and is believed to be an exceptionally frivolous move," a station source revealed.
"There is no guarantee that Craig's show will even be kept on at the end because Gerry Ryan is also meant to be doing an eight-week stint and Brendan O'Connor had surprisingly high rating figures for his show.
"Given the current financial difficulties faced by RTE itself and the fact that everyone has taken a pay cut, freelancers are struggling to make ends meet and there's a constant threat of redundancies, it has really infuriated many employees and is seen as a very expensive and unnecessary interview process," they added.
A spokesperson for RTE confirmed that a new set will be built for the show but declined to reveal details of the cost.
"I can confirm that there is a new set being built for the chat show with Craig Doyle. The series is being made by an external production company, Waddell Media," the representative told the Herald.
"Due to commercial sensitivities, I will not be commenting on the cost of the set. Waddell Media won't be commenting either," they added.
This is not the first time RTE has come under fire for splurging funds, generated in part by taxpayers' money, on expensive sets.
Just last year the station was forced to defend its controversial €1.3m expenditure on revamping its television news studio at a time when the station had just announced that it would be freezing pay and scrapping bonuses.