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Pat Stacey: Did Tubs really turn down a chance to be the new Jonathan Ross? And why?

To be or not to be the new Jonathan Ross? That, it seems, was the question facing Ryan Tubridy, if the latest twist in the whirlwind career of the broadcaster is to be believed.

And it surely has been a whirlwind. First there was the matter of the vacant job on The Late Late Show, speculation about which occupied more column inches than the sinking of the Titantic once had.

For years people had been pegging 37-year-old self-styled young fogey Tubridy as the new Gay Byrne, a tag that, to be fair, he didn't do an awful lot to dispute most of the time.

As fate would have it, he ended up being the new Pat Kenny when the latter decided to step down from the top job on Irish telly -- but only after months of rather loud murmuring about how Miriam O'Callaghan was dead set to be the new Pat Kenny.


More recently there was the question of who would be the new Gerry Ryan, or rather who would be brave/ foolhardy enough to step into the sizeable shoes of the late, much-missed broadcaster who was the glue that had held directionless 2fm together for so many years.

This time, Tubridy had no qualms about filling the breach.

It's wholly understandable. The two were great friends, and if anyone is suited to honour Ryan's memory by carrying on his show, it's Tubridy -- even if taking over the slot comes with its own set of risks.

But the chance to take over Jonathan Ross's Saturday morning radio show was, it would appear, a risk too far.

According to his agent, Noel Kelly, Tubridy had been in negotiations with the BBC regarding a three-month contract to present the Saturday morning slot on Radio 2 when Ross departs on July 17.

After some consideration, and the sudden death of Gerry Ryan, Tubridy declined.


The fact that he had to prepare for another long season of The Late Late Show also appears to have been an element in his refusal.

"It was a huge compliment to hear from the BBC," added Kelly, "but things change and I think Ryan made the right decision."

Gay Byrne agrees.

"This would have seemed like a huge opportunity for Ryan, but how could he do it?" he said last night.

Frankly, this is a bit rich coming from Gaybo, who early in his own career regularly commuted between Dublin, where he was doing the Late Late, and Granada Studios in Manchester, where he was doing regular work for ITV.

It's a curious story. The fact that Tubridy cites work commitments to the Late Late and his upcoming 2fm show as reasons for declining makes little sense.

After all, he was already successfully juggling a daily one-hour radio show during his first Late Late season.

Come the autumn, he'll be juggling a two-hour daily radio show. By comparison, the effort required to host a three-hour Radio 2 slot once every weekend would seem to be well within his grasp.

Given that Tubridy has frequently said he'd seriously consider moving to Britain if the right opportunity came up (and he certainly has the broadcasting chops to compete with anyone on the BBC), passing up such a terrific opportunity seems bizarre.


Or could there be another reason? Such as the fear of failure, perhaps?

The sense that it's better to be a big fish in a small pool than the other way around?

Whatever the case, Tubridy appears to have waved away a job that most broadcasters in his position would give their right arms to have.

Maybe he is the new Gay Byrne after all.