Virgin Media Television has thanked Matt Cooper for a “stellar contribution” to current affairs broadcasting after the presenter announced his departure from The Tonight Show after four years.
Mr Cooper, who also presents weekday drivetime show The Last Word on Bauer Media’s Today FM, tweeted on Tuesday night: “Holidays have confirmed it for me. Need to reduce the working hours a bit, enjoy more flexibility in the evenings after @lstwrd @TodayFM finishes at 7pm. So not returning to #tonightvmtv. Have enjoyed the last four years greatly and thanks to all @VirginMedia_TV.”
Virgin Media Television, which is owned by telecoms group Virgin Media Ireland, said on Wednesday that Mr Cooper was “a great colleague on and off screen and has been central to the success of The Tonight Show”.
The Virgin Media One current affairs flagship is currently off air for a summer break. Since mid-2020, it has been fronted by Mr Cooper and former Ireland AM presenter Ciara Doherty, with Virgin news presenter Claire Brock joining the programme from May to cover Ms Doherty’s maternity leave.
A replacement for Mr Cooper has not yet been announced, with Virgin indicating that this would take place when it launches its new season of programming in the autumn.
Potential internal candidates might include its main news anchor Colette Fitzpatrick, who has previously presented current affairs shows for the channel, and political correspondent Gavan Reilly, who is one of a number of Virgin Media News correspondents to have a significant following on social media.
The Tonight Show evolved from Tonight with Vincent Browne, which ran on Virgin – then known as TV3 – for a decade from 2007 and earned a reputation for heated and, at times, unpredictable political debate.
To the consternation of TV3’s State-owned rival RTÉ, the acerbic Mr Browne brought new viewers to the younger channel, regularly attracting more than 200,000 viewers in a post-11pm time slot during the financial crisis.
Mr Browne presented his final show for TV3 in July 2017, and when the programme returned that autumn Mr Cooper was unveiled as the new host alongside former Newstalk presenter Ivan Yates, who left last year.
As well as his duties on The Last Word, Mr Cooper writes columns for the Business Post and Irish Daily Mail. The former editor of the Sunday Tribune, and also a past anchor of TV3’s rugby coverage, tweeted that he would be working on other television projects, “so you may see as well as hear me again soon”.