'It's taking every ounce of professionalism to avoid looking down' - Niamh Horan meets Miriam O'Callaghan...in her underwear
Modesty probably forbids that other subjects resort to Miriam O'Callaghan's interview technique, writes Niamh Horan
I'm sitting across from RTE Prime Time presenter Miriam O'Callaghan, who is wearing nothing but her bra and knickers.
Sure, I'm focused on her thoughts on Dee Forbes. And yes, of course I want to know her views on the release of the station's recent pay figures.
But reader, I'm human, and it's taking every ounce of professionalism to hold her steely stare and avoid looking down.
Only a few minutes before, we were both fully dressed (it's worth noting I remained so) and I had dropped into Brown Thomas - where she was shooting a photograph for Breast Cancer Ireland's awareness campaign in conjunction with the luxury department store.
I had arrived unannounced and it seemed to unsettle her: "I have nothing to say, I have no good lines for you," she laughed, as a PR woman led me quickly to another area.
But when she eventually did the interview, in her underwear, I couldn't help but wonder if the woman renowned for unnerving the Taoiseach and making politicians sweat had suddenly turned the tables on me.
I was invited into her dressing room, where her pink dress came off. I sat on a small footstool and turned to face the wall. "Don't worry," I promised, "I won't look."
But my modesty proved unnecessary. The RTE star pulled up a low footstool and sat opposite me, legs akimbo, in a matching skin-toned bra and knickers.
Miriam's husband Steve Carson has just landed the biggest job in BBC Scotland. From tomorrow he will be responsible for BBC Scotland's entire programme output, across TV, radio and online. It's a massive promotion. A job anyone would leap at.
But after four years as the Head of BBC Northern Ireland's Content Production, it will bring Mr Carson further away from home.
I put the colour of the moment aside and ask her thoughts on the move.
"It's really exciting, I'm very proud of him," she says.
"When I met Steve, the only thing I worried about was he had a very fine career in London and I obviously had young daughters.
"He came to live with me in the Republic of Ireland."
So there was a sacrifice from Steve at the beginning?
"I felt that. I felt he sacrificed a very glorious career for me.
"So right now it's wonderful, because I think it has come full circle and he did say he had a wonderful time working in RTE. He ran a production company called Mint, which did very good work.
"But I know, deep in his soul he is really happy to be back in the BBC."
When the job came up, Steve asked his wife her thoughts. "Obviously he said to me 'what do you think love?' and he is such a nice guy that if I had said 'no love', he would probably say 'oh...' [I won't take it] but I told him to go for it. It's such an exciting job. I really believe we have only one life, and this is it, so live it to the full.
"We have a very strong marriage and are very happy together, and I want him to be the happiest man on the planet."
On a personal level she says: "I honestly don't think it will be difficult. What's difficult in the world? It's difficult having a serious illness, it's difficult - I am making a film at the moment about profoundly special-needs adults and that's difficult.
"Difficult is not my husband getting a great job and us flying to Glasgow. It's not difficult.
"The fundamentals of my life are good. I have four healthy daughters, four healthy sons, I wake up every morning grateful for that and I am delighted he is going to Glasgow.
"I think it's a really exciting new chapter in our lives."
She says she has made up her mind. She will never follow him to the BBC because she is happy in her position at Montrose.
I ask if she ever gets lonely. "It's a very interesting question and I don't want to sound smug, but actually, only once in a blue moon do I get the house to myself when no one is around - not even the dog - and I turn on the music loud and I dance.
"Even though I adore my family, I only get an hour every now and then, so I'm not lonely."
Steve will fly out on Monday mornings and fly home from Glasgow on Friday evenings.
"He will be home every weekend to take his sons to rugby and to take his wife out for dinner," she says.
Miriam has some astute advice to other couples.
"Let everyone have their dream.
"Just because you are in a relationship and you love someone, don't ever stop them doing what they want to do.
"I'm really proud of him and delighted he got the job. The minute he mentioned to me it was coming up, I said 'go for it.' And all the children are very happy. We are planning a Scottish outing for the Irish rugby game."
With that, Miriam gets up to slip into a lipstick-red dress for her next event. Relaxed that I now have my interview in the bag, I can finally let my eyes roam.
Her body is striking. Well-shaped decolletage, taut stomach and toned legs.
There is no sign of the eight children: she is in terrific shape.
But after we say our goodbyes I realised the one question I had wanted to ask Miriam had slipped my mind.
I can only surmise it must have been the bra and knickers.
Perhaps the Prime Time star should consider similar attire next time she has a red-blooded politician in the hot seat.
She would run rings round them.
Meanwhile, I am just praying if I ever have to grill her co-host David McCullagh, he won't be in his tighty-whities.
No offence, David!
From tonight, Brown Thomas Dublin will light up in pink for a week to raise awareness of breast health