Radio: Nicky Byrne and Jenny Greene – talking loudly in a show about nothing

Nicky Byrne and Jenny Greene are cheery hosts but stunningly banal. It’s a chirpy John Murray who provides more substance

Nicky Byrne: effortlessly convivial

Nicky Byrne: effortlessly convivial

Sat, Aug 2, 2014, 01:00

In a classic episode of the sitcom Seinfeld, the eponymous star, Jerry, approaches television executives with an idea for “a show about nothing”. It’s a phrase that came to describe his own hit series about four aimlessly self-obsessed New Yorkers. It’s also a pretty apt summation of The Nicky Byrne Show (2FM, weekdays), which revels in celebrating the mundane and pointless, albeit without Seinfeld’s meta sensibilities, or indeed its wit.

Six months into his 2FM tenure Byrne shows no sign of growing into his role as a daytime-radio presenter. As from the off, the former Westlife singer comes across as an effortlessly convivial chap who enjoys an effervescent on-air relationship with his cohost, Jenny Greene. But as he whoops and chuckles his way through three hours of eye-watering banality, he hasn’t noticeably broadened his presentational palette.

On Monday Byrne and Greene swap tales from their weekend, in the process dispelling any illusions about the glamour of their lifestyles. Byrne tells of visiting a football tournament and his wife’s mishap in backing up her smartphone. Greene recounts her horror at encountering a nude male sunbather on a Dublin strand.

The pair spin out the latter incident – admittedly unusual – almost hysterically, prompting all manner of tittering remarks, such as “I don’t want to step over someone’s beach balls.” As Greene shows a photograph of the nudist to Byrne – but not to the listeners, obviously – they explode in conspiratorial giggles: entertaining for the presenters, doubtless, but self-indulgent. Greene’s characterisation of the sunbather as being “spread out like a starfish” is an ickily evocative image, but is a rare flash of inspiration.

Otherwise, Byrne promises a “big show”. What follows suggests a shaky grasp of scale, as listeners are canvassed in order to find out whose car has the highest mileage. While the results can impress in a factoid kind of way – one car clocks more than 500,000 miles – it’s all conducted in a relentlessly hyperactive monotone. When one caller says she doesn’t know the make of her car, disbelieving hoots ensue. “Brilliant,” says Greene. Really?

In fairness, Byrne and Greene – whose name remains shamefully absent from the show’s title – aspire to buzzy excitement rather than more mature staidness, and their cheery disposition and lack of snark are attractive. But framing prosaic subjects as the acme of hilarity wears thin, like a sitcom with too much canned laughter.

Over on The John Murray Show (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays) the prevailing chirpiness briefly darkens on Tuesday, as heroin addiction and prostitution displace the usual frothy lifestyle items and quirky human-interest stories. Murray talks to Antonia Leslie, of the family who own the storied Castle Leslie in Co Monaghan, about her drug experiences. Although ostensibly prompted by the revelations about the late Peaches Geldof’s heroin use, Leslie’s account is less cautionary tale than picaresque short story.

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