Radio: Wily Terry Wogan trumps Ryan Tubridy’s return

Review: ‘The Ryan Tubridy Show’, ‘Liveline’, ‘Moncrieff’

Ryan Tubridy: on his first day he invites his audience to text the show and visit its Facebook page. He then gleefully adds, “Here’s a revolutionary thought – you can just listen to it.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Ryan Tubridy: on his first day he invites his audience to text the show and visit its Facebook page. He then gleefully adds, “Here’s a revolutionary thought – you can just listen to it.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

He’s only been back on RTÉ Radio 1 a week and already it feels as if Ryan Tubridy has never been away. That’s partly because he wasn’t really gone, of course, merely residing at 2FM, its sister station, for the past five years. But, still, the presenter sounds more at home on The Ryan Tubridy Show (weekdays), the latest iteration of his morning-radio career.

He particularly seems to relish the notion of not constantly having to push the social-media element so vital to his previous home. On his first day he invites his audience to text the show and visit its Facebook page. He then gleefully adds, “Here’s a revolutionary thought – you can just listen to it.”

But he obviously feels the need to place some clear water between himself and John Murray, his slot’s previous incumbent. Tubridy not only dispenses with Murray’s trademark opening comic monologue but, in a dramatic about-turn, kicks off Tuesday’s show with what can only be called a tragic dialogue.

He goes straight into an interview with Paul Murphy, the survivor of an accident that left two work colleagues dead after the suspended cage they had been working in plunged into the River Shannon. It is, Tubridy admits, a difficult incident for Murphy to recount, not least because it occurred only a week previously. But the host presses ahead in drawing out his guest’s story.

Although Murphy recounts the accident in an almost eerily level voice, the description he gives is appalling enough. A non-swimmer, he was suspended in the cage doing maintenance work on a bridge in Limerick when he heard a bang. “I said to myself, ‘We’re going into the water,’ so I took a deep breath.”

Asked whether he could see anything under the surface, Murphy talks about the water being “clear, then murky, then black”.

If this is chilling, it is trumped by his revelation that people used phones to video the attempts to revive his dead colleagues.

All in all, it’s a disconcerting item. Tubridy suggests that his guest may still be in shock. “Maybe a lot of this will have to be processed,” he ventures, but he still asks him to talk on national radio about a recent trauma of devastating proportions.

He also characterises the escape as a good-news story for Murphy, only for his guest to remind listeners that there are still two bereaved families. Tubridy clearly hasn’t quite found his feet in the new slot just yet.

He’s on more comfortable ground chatting to Terry Wogan, whose presence is perhaps the greatest imprimatur in Irish broadcasting, surpassing even that of Gay Byrne. For much of the time Wogan is in comfily laconic form: he cheerily calls Gaybo “an obscure but lovable presenter”, much to Tubridy’s delight.

The veteran BBC presenter also confides that “I work best when I make it up as I go along”, which may explain the use of phrases such as “travelling orientals”, which can be most charitably described as arcane.

If Tubridy’s laughter sounds uneasy at such moments, he sounds decidedly downcast when he asks his guest about getting older. “I’m Terry No-Mates now, because I’ve lost so many of my dearest friends,” Wogan says, in uncharacteristically resigned tones.

“It’s a bit bleak,” Tubridy replies. “Don’t start now, Ryan,” comes the magisterial reprimand. Thus prompted, Tubridy changes topics. At times like this even he sounds like a beginner.

A grimly familiar subject surfaces on Monday’s Liveline (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays) when Joe Duffy talks to Jane about the recent death of a paedophile priest who had sexually abused her as a child. Jane has heard that Bill Carney, who according to the Murphy report abused at least 32 children while a priest in Dublin, had died in Midlands Prison, in Portlaoise. But she is upset that none of Carney’s victims was informed, by either church or State authorities, of his passing. Indeed, even the details of his funeral are unavailable.

“This may sound funny to your listeners, but I would like to go to that funeral,” Jane says. “I just would like to sit at back of church quietly, watch the coffin go by, and say, ‘That’s it. It’s over.’ ” It’s not just closure Jane has been denied but basic justice. Duffy recounts how Carney had been on remand for trial, having been extradited from Scotland nearly three years earlier. He then adds the startling detail that Carney’s previous trial for abuse, in 1983, was heard in camera, or “on the QT”, as the host succinctly puts it.

But it is Jane’s testimony that truly damns both Carney and the hopelessly inadequate official response to his crimes. In a cracked voice that bears the hallmark of tough life experiences, she talks about being sent by nuns (whose care she was in) to Carney’s house for weekends, leaving the horrors that followed to the imagination. Not that there was any remorse when her abuser was finally brought back for his continually deferred trial. Jane recalls how, at one courtroom appearance, “he recognised me and made a face at me.”

Jane’s appearance prompts a huge response, and Carney’s case takes up the entire programme the following day. It’s yet more proof of the enduring legacy of clerical abuse, an issue Duffy has long given voice to when others may feel it has run its course. Unfortunately, there are some things that just won’t go away.

Moment of the Week: Moncrieff’s manifesto
A regular guest on Moncrieff (Newstalk, weekdays), the Labour TD John Lyons beats the party drum more than usual on Wednesday’s show. Remarking that his guest is clearly on an election footing, Sean Moncrieff sounds a note of mock exasperation as one political point after another is made. He reaches breaking point when Lyons defends the Coalition’s record: “We’ve done a reasonably good job.” Cue incredulous laughter from Moncrieff. “That’s one for the poster – ‘A reasonably good job’.” Now that’d be a refreshing election slogan.

radioreview@irishtimes.com

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