Tubridy's first guests to include Taoiseach


THE TAOISEACH Brian Cowen will be Ryan Tubridy’s first guest when he presents The Late Late Showfor the first time tonight.

In May, Tubridy (36) was announced as the next presenter of the long-running chat show, following Pat Kenny’s decision to leave.

The nest presenter said the Taoiseach had made no demands regarding the questions to be asked. “There are a lot of people who’ll be watching the show that a year ago would have been out having pints with their friends. They can’t afford those pints now,” he said. “We have to ask the Taoiseach why is that.”

He said the 20-minute interview would be neither soft nor interrogatory. “I don’t think it would be fair for him to come on and talk about his favourite colour, or his favourite movie. He knows that we live on a different planet to the one we did a year ago and, as I understand it, he’s very much prepared to answer the questions that are going to be asked in the tone of a conversation, and not in the tone of an interrogation,” he said.

“I’m not Jeremy Paxman. I’m not a current affairs journalist. I’m the presenter of The Late Late Showwhich is an entertainment show first and foremost.”

Tubridy said this was the nearest we would get to a state-of-the-nation address. “It’s a big audience we are expecting and he’s a man who people want to see. I think they want to look in the whites of his eyes and say ‘what’s happening?’ ”

While the names of several actors and celebrities have been touted, the full guest list for tonight has not been released. However, the Taoiseach will be joined in the green room by actor Joan Collins “who is coming in to give us a little bit of old school glam”, Tubridy said.

The Late Late Showhouse band will make its debut and will be joined by members of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra for what Tubridy described as “an excited reworking” of the signature tune To Whom it Concerns.

He said a shiver went up his spine when he heard the tune being played last week when the team did a mock run-through of the show in front of a full audience. “Am I a nervous wreck? What do you think?” he asked. “I’m not a complete wreck but I’m as close as you can get to one.”

Among tonight’s 204-strong audience will be his mother, who has never come to see one of his shows before. “She’s coming in because she heard there was free stuff,” he said, before adding hastily, “I’m only joking.”

The new set was designed by Darragh Treacy who also designed the previous set. It features a walnut desk with leather chairs and a pink/purple backdrop.

The Late Late Showwill not have to compete for guests with a Saturday night chat show until after Christmas at least, as RTÉ said it would not be deciding on the future of the vacated Tubridy Tonight slot until then.

Under Pat Kenny’s watch, The Late Late Showhad an average audience of 682,000, compared with 517,000 for Tubridy Tonight.

Tubridy said there was only one person to blame if The Late Late Showfailed. “I’ve been given pretty much everything I required. The only one who can make a mess of this now is me.”

* The Late Late Showstarts at 9.35pm on RTÉ 1