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Terry Prone: Dear Ryan, a little free advice from someone who's been advising the famous for many years: Lighten up

The word is that you're not a happy Tubridy, right now. The media's eaten up with curiosity about the state of your relationship.

Photographers are lying in the long grass, hoping to capture pictures you don't want them to capture. They're out to get you. You feel got at.

A little free advice from someone who's been advising the famous for a long, long time? Don't. Don't feel got at. Don't believe that the media is out to get you. The media likes you. But it is all about finding out about celebs. Finding out more than is in the official biog. Why? Oh, come on, you know yourself. Their audience wants that little extra, that tiny bit of insider trading.

Damned

It has always been so. It's just more intense, these days. More media than back in the days of the Duke of Wellington. As a good historian, you remember that in the 19th century he was pursued about the state of HIS relationship. His answer? "Publish. And be damned."

Not a bad way to go. But not easy, if it's the first time you face real, persistent questioning about something you believe to be private. Not easy, when you want to protect your children from comments in school. No, not easy. Fame and success come with a high price. Marilyn Monroe said stardom empowered people to be rude to you and about you for no good reason. These days, they can do it instantly, by tweet.

One of the most likeable things about you is that you admire the best in your business and seek advice from them. You made no secret of the fact that, before you took over the Late, Late Show, you asked Uncle Gabriel for guidance on how to handle the programme.

It may not have struck you to ask him, at the same time, about coping with media attention. Pity. Because he had that sucker completely sussed.

I remember an interview with Kathleen Watkins in which she said it drove her nuts, when they were on holiday in Donegal as a family of private citizens, if people came up to them and asked to have their photograph taken with Gay Byrne. Gay's attitude, however, was simple. He'd step into the middle of the group, put his arms around the tourists, smile for the cameras and move right along. Thirty seconds of nice was not, he believed, a big demand on him.

I'm sure you'd do the same. It's that narrow line of tension between public and private life that's so difficult to negotiate. You've never been comfortable with it. When you had to ask Brian Cowen the alcohol question, you did it, but you cotton-woolled it with explanations (you really had to do this) and apologies (you took no pleasure in doing it).

The complication, in your present situation, is that both of you are in the public eye to a greater (in your case) or lesser (in her case) extent. You've both talked a bit about being together. When you seem not to be together any more, the media gets inquisitive. That's clearly bothering you, and for it to happen just before you launch your first book must be doubly difficult.

What you may not know is this. You know the way a dog smells fear and goes harder at the frightened person? The media's the same. If they sense rage or fear, it intensifies their interest.

Surviving

The PR advice is simple. Don't tell the media how to do their job. Don't assume they are out to get you. Stay good-humoured about not answering questions you don't want to answer.

This, too, will pass. But simply surviving it isn't enough.

Your TV and radio future depend on you being the Ryan Tubridy audiences like. The guy who enjoys his life. Right now, you don't look as if you're enjoying what you do. Don't let a bit of gossipy media interest turn you sour.


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