Friday 19 January 2018

Bill O'Herlihy: 'I've no second thoughts about leaving RTE after 49 years'

Anita McSorley

Departing RTE anchor Bill O'Herlihy has said that he is having no second thoughts about leaving RTE.

The 75-year-old broadcaster will host his last RTE World Cup final tonight in front of an estimated one million viewers.

“For the first time it’s dawning on me that this is my last day - that I’m facing the final curtain as Frank Sinatra would have it and it’s a strange feeling. RTE has been so much part of my life for 49 years both in terms of news features current affairs and sport, so walking into RTE this afternoon, about quarter to four, it’ll be a bit special, won’t it?”

“The reality is I’ve been working 49 years with RTE and I don’t want to be going in in a zimmer frame. The World Cup Final was the obvious time to go and RTE agrees with it, to be honest.”

“I have planned my exit but I’m not going to make a song and dance of it. I’m not a song and dance type,” he told Marian Finucane on RTE Radio One earlier.

Asked if he was having second thoughts, he replied, “No, not at all. No.”

The veteran presenter has anchored 10 World Cups on RTE, starting with the 1978 competition in Argentina. He says that his favourite was the 1990 World Cup.

“The 1990 world cup was unbelievable it was the first time we qualified and was a very, very special time. That was the year George Hamilton coming up with the great line, ‘the nation holds its breath’.

“Interestingly enough I was always very sorry when O’Leary scored that fantastic penalty that the camera didn’t go back to the studio because we were jumping around that Ireland go through to the next stage people were looking at us objectively. You have a professional job to do on one hand but you wear your heart on your sleeve on the other,” he said.

O’Herlihy is enjoying this year’s World Cup, and thinks Germany will win tonight.

“This is the most exciting World Cup. More exciting than South Africa by a long time.

“Audiences are going up to 800,000 watching the program and they’re consistently like 40pc and 50pc of the overall audience.

“This evening the romantics will all want Messi to get his medal, but the realists will want Germany, the lads make it very clear to me that I’m an anchor and not an analyst so I can’t say. As a European, I want Germany to win,” he said.

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