Archive for June 6th, 2009

A Holy Show

6 June 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Gay ByrneSo the dust has settled on the news that Ryan Tubridy, that doyen of Irish radio and television, darling of grandmammies the country over, will take over as the new presenter of the ‘Late Late Show’ this autumn following the end of Pat Kenny’s ten-year (ten years!) tenure. Kenny’s undisguised desire to return to current affairs broadcasting,  a role in which he sounds so much more comfortable on his radio show than in front of camera, begs further questions of the relevance of the ‘Late Late’. Does anyone remember when the programme was something more than a vehicle for what RTÉ describes as ‘the biggest celebrities the world has to offer’, or, in lay parlance, whatever unknown British celebrity, Irish boy/girlband with a single to push or (when I saw it a few months ago) strange American plastic surgeon pitches highest? Or when its ‘memorable moments’ amounted to something more than those highlighted by Fiona McCann in last week’s Irish Times? The era when the longest running chat show on television (in the world, ever) was, we are told, at the forefront of breaking down taboos and pushing the boundaries of debate in Ireland, famously getting the Bishop of Galway in a twist over women’s nightwear, seem a long way away to TV viewers of my generation. Was it really that radical? Has it, like all things 1960s, been talked up by a nostalgic generation who yearn for the days when things were simpler, everyone walked to school in their bare feet and ate (s)mashed potato from powder in a bag? Or, more likely, have we simply lost sight of its power now that we live in an age of omnipresent news? (There’s a joke about one for everyone in the audience in there somewhere, but best leave it alone.) And, what, if anything, will take its place for historians of contemporary Ireland? Answers on a postcard to Pue’s Occurrences.