Pat Kenny Tonight review: ready to sort out any mess with an arch of his eyebrow

The presenter has found a new home on TV3, but he might need some time to settle in

Colette Fitzpatrick and Pat Kenny on the set of “Pat Kenny Tonight” on TV3. Photograph: Brian McEvoy

Colette Fitzpatrick and Pat Kenny on the set of “Pat Kenny Tonight” on TV3. Photograph: Brian McEvoy

 

Water charges, insurance costs, housing crisis, homelessness, health service cuts, Brexit, Trump and Syria - let’s face it, the place is going to hell in a handcart. We need a hero who’s not afraid to tackle these important issues, a warrior well-versed in current affairs, a Jedi knight of the news cycle who can go mano a mano with the politicians, public figures and other forces of the dark side. And lo! A hero returns, in the patrician form of Pat Kenny. He’ll sort out this mess with just an arch of his eyebrow.

Pat Kenny Tonight (Wednesday, TV3) is the channel’s new current affairs show - maybe not quite elbowing Vincent Browne aside, but certainly grabbing some of the limelight from TV’s loveable curmudgeon. It’s called Pat Kenny Tonight, but it’s co-presented by Colette Fitzpatrick, which has raised a few hackles. Both presenters were keen to quash talk of sexism, or that Fitzpatrick has been relegated to a sidekick role, Debbie McGee to Pat’s Paul Daniels (without the marriage bit, of course. Or the magic).

Pat’s name is on the marquee because he’s the more experienced broadcaster, with decades of Late Late Shows and Kenny Lives under his belt, and also because he is the household name, so naturally the moguls at TV3 have a brand to sell. Or maybe it’s just a case of age before beauty.

Kenny’s gone round the houses a bit before landing at Ballymount - a previous screen effort, Pat Kenny in the Round, on UTV Ireland, suffered from square-peg syndrome, but the response to his Leaders’ Debates on TV3 earlier this year was encouraging, so now he’s back to give it the full Wednesday-night welly. The show goes out live, in front of a studio audience of 150, with the requisite guest panellists, commentators, spokespeople and whipping boys.

But it wouldn’t be Pat Kenny without at least one Alan Partridge moment – and he opens up the evening’s main topic by holding up a potato and inviting the studio audience to guess how much it costs in other European countries.

They’ve picked a good topic to kick off with, one that everyone at home is sure to engage with: the high cost of everything in rip-off Ireland. Sure enough, the tweets come in thick and fast on the bottom right of the screen. Kenny chats to audience members who have come from different parts of Europe to live here, and who find the price of everything shocking. Fitzpatrick talks to entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den star Gavin Duffy. He reckons it’s down to economies of scale - there aren’t enough people in Ireland to spread the costs. A tweeter reckons it’s the “bloated public service” and the profit-driven private sector.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty, Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins, Fine Gael TD Damien English and economist Colm McCarthy discuss the spiralling cost of motor insurance, and it becomes a game of pass-the-parcel as the blame gets shunted around the table. When the FFer puts his spoke in, Kenny decides its time to flash the eybrow and shoot down the Soldier of Destiny. “But look what you did during the Celtic Tiger – prices went through the roof!” Bullseye!

Kenny’s still got his current-affairs mojo (well, he does do it every morning on Newstalk) and he steers the discussions with his usual professionalism, but really this is just another by-the-numbers panel discussion show, another Wednesday night in watching the current affairs on the telly. I can’t tell it apart from Frontline.

I still think they should have called it The Kenny & Colette Show.

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