O'Callaghan and Tubridy top 'Late Late Show' list


MIRIAM O’CALLAGHAN and Ryan Tubridy have emerged as strong frontrunners to succeed Pat Kenny as presenter of the Late Late Show.

While RTÉ said yesterday that “no decision has been made” over who will replace Kenny at the end of the series, a source close to the selection process said the shortlist is likely to consist only of Ryan Tubridy and Miriam O’Callaghan.

The RTÉ presenters at the centre of speculation about who will inherit the show’s chair were keeping a low profile yesterday. O’Callaghan and Tubridy both declined to be interviewed.

However, given the show’s status as RTÉ’s flagship programme it is considered unlikely the broadcaster will look beyond either host as both already have experience of hosting prime-time Saturday night chat shows.

It was confirmed that O’Callaghan’s husband, RTÉ’s director of programmes, Steve Carson, has absented himself from the decision-making process.

Tubridy has previously expressed interest in the job, and the presenter of RTE 1’s Tubridy Tonightsince 2004 will become the station’s most experienced chat show host once Kenny steps down after 10 years in the Late Late Show. The programme has won strong ratings and Tubridy Tonighthas attracted a sponsor while the Late Late Showhas not.

According to an RTÉ source, the presenter has not yet been approached about a move to Friday nights, but it is thought likely it will be discussed with him.

One of the country’s most popular presenters, O’Callaghan is also seen as having a very strong chance. As well as being the main host of flagship current affairs programme Prime Time, she has also presented a light entetainment chat show on RTÉ during the summer months.

Kenny made the announcement during Friday night’s programme, having earlier informed the show’s staff. RTÉ said it could be two months before a decision is made on his replacement, but there was no intention to drop the show as a format. Should the broadcaster decide to widen its search, other options could include comedian Dara O’Briain, presenter Gráinne Seoige and 2FM DJ Gerry Ryan.

Ryan is the only one with experience of presenting the Late Late Show, temporarily taking over in October following the death of Kenny’s mother. However, Ryan’s chances might have been damaged by how RTÉ was forced to air an apology following an interview with comedian Tommy Tiernan that included jokes about Travellers and disability. The Broadcasting Complaints Commission criticised Ryan for having “actively engaged in the jokes being told by the comedian and in effect, urged him on irrespective of manner or content”.

Today FM presenter Ray D’Arcy said he was “flattered” his name has been mentioned in media speculation, but that he doesn’t expect to be approached.

“I’d be very surprised if I got a call, but I would be very excited if I did,” he said. D’Arcy added that, although the Late Late Showis often considered a product of its time, “there are huge issues coming at us in the next few years and the Late Late Showor a programme like it is the perfect format to talk about them”. He said he would like to continue his daily radio show, and was “very happy” at Today FM having recently signed a three-year contract.

At the launch of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland Tea Day, Kenny refused to be drawn on who might succeed him. “They are all pals of mine . . . I don’t see Ray D’Arcy as much because he’s not on the radio station, but certainly I would see Miriam, I’d see Gráinne, I’d see Gerry Ryan and Tubridy pretty much every day, so it would be utterly disingenuous of me.”

From the autumn, he will begin a new current affairs show in the Monday night slot vacated by Questions and Answers. According to RTÉ, it will be a mix of analysis, debate and satire.

On how the Late Late Showmight change under a new presenter, Mr Kenny added that “if someone is interested in the arts it will become a little more arty . . . if someone is good at current affairs it will become more focused on current affairs, so it is such a diverse creature”.