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Michael O'Doherty: In world of minor mediocre autocue readers, Gerry was the real deal

Gerry Ryan was A-list. A proper, no-question-about-it A-lister, a man who lit up and, in most cases, dominated any room he walked into. In a world of minor autocue readers and mediocre presenters with inflated opinions of themselves, Gerry was the real deal.

Even if you hadn't heard of Gerry Ryan, you'd mark him out in a crowded room as someone important -- he had an aura about him, part demeanour, part physical presence, which immediately told you he was someone of substance.


Despite having worked with RTE for more than 30 years, there was still something of the non-conformist in Gerry, a fact which endeared him to many people, none more so than one of my magazines.

When we launched TVNow in April 1990, as the first magazine to take on the biggest selling title in Ireland -- the RTE Guide -- we encountered difficulties getting RTE to co-operate, as they were fiercely protective of their glossy cash cow.

But not Gerry Ryan. In just our fifth issue, he invited us into his show for a day for a full behind the scenes photoshoot and interview and posed, puffing his trademark cigar, for the front cover. His willingness to be featured in TVNow gave the staff a huge confidence boost, and made us feel we had, even in a small way, arrived.

Over the years, Gerry continued to be a friend to TVNow. Every time we came knocking looking for an interview of photoshoot, he'd agree to do it. He was, as he said himself, a fan.

When we asked him to be the subject of our regular 'Tea With' feature, he agreed only on the condition that we didn't make him share a cup of tea. He went to the Dylan Hotel and the column for that week alone was renamed 'Martini(s) With'.

Only three weeks before he died, Gerry again gave up his time for a TVNow feature, this time a look at a day in the life of 2FM. Even with such heavyweights as Dave Fanning and Larry Gogan knocking around, Gerry was the centrepiece of the story. We considered putting a group shot of the presenters on the cover, but decided just to run with a close up of Gerry. In many ways, he was 2FM.

I can't pretend to having been a friend. Our relationship was purely a business one, but that doesn't make his passing any less sad.


When you read the vitriol aimed at high-earning RTE presenters, you forget not just the happiness that they bring into people's lives, but also the amount of businesses that they support. Businesses like mine.

We pursued Gerry for ten years to do a cover feature in VIP, but to no avail. We'd never given up hope.

Whenever I was asked about the wishlist of VIP cover stories we hadn't yet done, Gerry Ryan was always in the top three.

Sadly, it's now never going to be.

Wainwright's a right pain

I've dealt with the outrageous egos and demands of some prize a***s in my time, but I had never heard of an artiste who made demands not to his handlers, but of his audience. Until last week, that is, when musician Rufus Wainwright flounced into town.

But before his Rufus-ness would appear on stage in the Grand Canal Theatre, a minion was sent out to announce rules.

There would be no applause between songs -- his lordship, you see, becomes immersed in his performance, moving rapidly from one song to the next, and didn't want pesky clapping to distract him. There was to be an interval, at which stage the fans would be allowed to show their appreciation, and during which his minion returned with a further demand.

No clapping during songs in the second half, obviously, but also no clapping immediately after the last song -- the audience was asked to contain their admiration until the great man had left the stage because, wait for it, "his departure is part of the act". When someone who has disappeared so far up his own a**e, as Rufus obviously has, it's a wonder anyone can hear him sing, let alone be expected to pay €60 for the privilege.

Do I look like I need hair loss treatment?

An urgent package arrived for me at work last Friday afternoon. Dispatched by DHL, a particularly swift mode of transportation, and marked 'URGENT' on the envelope, I wasted no time in opening it in front of the office.

It contained two large white boxes of product, both of which bore the words 'Hair Loss Treatment'. One contained pills, the other some kind of lotion, both of them clinically proven, apparently, to reverse the effects of thinning hair.

I'm proud of my hair which, being very fine, has defied the odds and resolutely resolved to stay on my head for some 45 years. So you can imagine my consternation at this, perhaps the most thoughtless and misplaced mailshot in Irish PR history, I had been singled out to receive products for chronic hair loss, and they had sent it last thing on a Friday afternoon -- the inference being that my hair wasn't even going to survive the weekend unless I applied this magic formula.

Perhaps the PR company behind it knows something I don't. I've withheld their name, for legal reasons, but I can assure you that it's etched on my brain -- surrounded by luxuriant hair, which is going nowhere in the near future.