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Miriam O'Callaghan cut back on radio work for the summer

Miriam O'Callaghan cut back on radio work for the summer

Miriam O'Callaghan cut back on radio work for the summer

DID you watch the Archangel Gabriel imparting the word of God – whoops, pardon my Freudian slip – I mean Gay Byrne interviewing Bono on Tuesday's The Meaning of Life special?

I didn't. Couldn't be bothered, to be honest. I'm sure there was plenty to enjoy if you're interested in the finer points of U2's tax affairs (not remotely) or Bono's spiritual beliefs (even less) or when U2's next album is coming out (I'm feeling sleepy already).

But in a week dominated by the sound of Anglo-Irish bankers in suits chortling and guffawing about an attempt to sucker the Government out of billions of taxpayers' money, I'm afraid the prospect of watching two of Ireland's pre-eminent showbiz egos slather one another in the metaphorical baby oil of mutual adoration for an hour wasn't my idea of either time or licence-fees money well spent.

Besides, there was much more important material emanating from Fortress RTE this week to command our attention, not least the workload woes of Miriam O'Callaghan, who shared her plight with a grateful and sympathetic public.

STILETTOS

The Mother of Eight, who has been filling in for the ill John Murray on his daytime radio show, regretfully revealed that pressure of work means she's had to withdraw from her own Sunday morning radio show, Miriam Meets, for the foreseeable future.

(Somewhere out there a man is weeping. A man who collected all the RTE Guides with Miriam on the cover and papered the walls of his basement with them, so he can spend his evenings down there, conversing with a mannequin topped with a cheap blonde wig and wearing a red Penneys dress and a pair of stilettos retrieved from a skip).

Anyway. "I just can't work seven days a week," Miriam explained. We can feel your pain. Nobody can work seven days a week. Why, some can't even work one day a week; the unemployed, for instance.

The reason for Miriam cutting back on her commitments is that her fluffy pink chatshow is back on RTE1 on Saturdays – good news, at least, for the nation's less discerning grannies, who like television that doesn't require a lot of chewing and feared this enforced Miriam-drought would mean having to rely on the Angelus and Sunday morning Mass for their entertainment.

But how, I sense you wondering, can RTE possibly fill this yawning, Miriam-shaped gap in the airwaves?

Perhaps Marian Finucane could be prevailed upon to put in a few hours' overtime – for time-and-a-half, naturally, because nobody likes to undersell themselves, least of all Marian. Nah, now we're just being silly.

On this occasion RTE, for once uncharacteristically alert to the accusations of nepotism and cronyism regularly fired across its bows, has decided not to dip into the usual pool of in-house talent.

AMBITION

Instead, it's poked into the nearby paddling pool where nascent RTE hopefuls splash around waiting for their big break and fished out Ryan Tubridy's girlfriend Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain, who'll present a 10-week show called Aoibhinn & Company.

The one-time Rose of Tralee, whose television work includes Science Squad and travel show Getaways, has done a bit of filling-in on radio before but has never hosted a show of her own. So not exactly a new face, then.

In another piece of exciting news this week, Lucy Kennedy told the Herald she hopes to barge back onto screens soon with two new series: a lighthearted daytime chatshow she's pitching to TV3, and a dating game aimed at RTE – two genres criminally underrepresented on television at present.

Becoming "Ireland's answer to Cilla Black" has apparently been a long-cherished ambition of Lucy's. "I'd love, love, love to do a dating show," she said.

I'm sure she would, would, would. What can you say? It's going to be a long, long, long summer.


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