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Pressure mounting on Tubridy after Late Late plunges to alarming low

IT WAS the dullest Late Late Show in a while -- and that's saying something.

No surprise then that it haemorrhaged another 70,000 viewers last Friday night -- on top of the 180,000 the show lost for the previous week.

Despite public shows of support for Ryan Tubridy, RTE chiefs are now seriously concerned they will not be able to stop the show's tailspin.

"There's an air of doom around the Late Late right now. Even Tubridy himself couldn't hide it on Friday night, and one of his eyes was weepy. It's not the right signal," said a senior insider.

"Worse still, one of the 'star' guests billed to appear was Jimmy Savile. Hardly someone to set Friday night alight -- and even he didn't appear on the night," said the source.

"Ryan is under terrible pressure and doing his best to hide it, but once a show gets jinxed like this, it's extremely hard to turn around," the senior source added.

RTE chiefs would like to see Tubridy do a major publicity round to address the show's reputational damage -- but the presenter is notoriously shy of subjecting himself to interview.

Ryan has refused Herald requests for an interview.

Last Friday, Ryan said he had got a vote of confidence from management. He insisted his job was not under threat.

But a senior insider said: "You have to look at Miriam O'Callaghan's figures for her chatshow during the summer. They were at a record high. Then Ryan comes back and everything starts to go awry.

"It's not good and Ryan has until Christmas to sort his show, his production crew and his guests out. It's a lot of pressure and he will find out where his friends are now."

However, despite the disappointing numbers, RTE spokespeople have maintained that the Late Late remains to be the most watched show of the week and that Tubridy will continue to front the series.

"Forty-two per cent of people watching television chose to watch the Late Late on a Friday night," said spokeswoman Tara O'Brien.

"Despite the fact that over 70pc of viewers in Ireland have digital channels with hundreds of channels to choose form -- this is a very strong performance from RTE and the Late Late," she added.

Legendary broadcaster Gay Byrne also defended Tubridy yesterday:

"Ryan is doing a good job. He dropped some viewers but I'm sure he will pick them up in the weeks ahead."

He added:

"Losing and gaining viewers (on the Late Late) is a pattern that has been going on for 50 years."

Meanwhile, Gaybo has been enjoying huge success with his Saturday night summer filler -- after One Night Only pulled in nearly half a million viewers each week.