It’s time the Late Late Show left the arena – along with its presenter

Having spent fourteen years fronting RTÉ’s Late Late Show, the second-longest running late night talk show in the world (the longest being The Tonight Show in the US…I think), Ryan Tubridy has decided to step away…and not before time I say!

He disclosed how it would be a ‘punishment’ for his family if he continues presenting the Late Late, given they didn’t exactly sign up to the high profile status that comes with being on d’telly. It’s my opinion that, due to this programme becoming a highly embarrassing cringe-fest, it’s also pretty painful for viewers!

Don’t get me wrong, there was a time when the Late Late Show was not just regarded as being a dependable and profitable project for RTÉ, with advertisers queuing to purchase premium slots during the programme’s peak-time viewing hours. This all happened when the Late Late was a show which  highlighted interesting topics, and explored heavyweight and often contentious social issues – the 1993 Annie Murphy interview disclosing her affair with Bishop Éamon Casey springs to mind. (However, I must add, I didn’t like what I believe to be then host Gay Byrne’s dismissive, hostile, and it must be said, highly prejudiced tone when addressing Ms Murphy).

To give him his due, when Gay was at the helm, the show did manage to attract guests so riveting, it made for ritualistic weekend viewing in many Irish households. Not so much these days. In fact I’d rather shove bamboo shoots up my nails than commit to watching an entire programme from beginning to end.

My reason for switching channels at 9.30 pm every Friday is due to the fact that these days, the Late Late’s running order reads more like a ‘who’s who’ of desperate-to-remain-relevant Z list has-beens flogging their books or plugging their podcasts while the  presenter salivates and fawns all over them! That said readers, even though I believe it’s time the Late Late Show left the arena along with its presenter, I’m still trying to be fair and balanced regarding my feelings about it for the simple reason I know there are those who really enjoy it.

With that in mind, perhaps it’s not the outgoing Director-General Dee Forbes’ fault that there’s a slackening interest and a serious haemorrhaging of viewers. Okay, it is really, and I think that she, along with her board, must bear the brunt of the blame. For the record, Ms Forbes’ seven-year term comes to a close in July, meaning she’ll not be long following Tubs out the door; and we can all hope her successor has the cop on and the vision needed to drag the crumbling relic that is RTÉ into the 21st century.

Then again, perhaps it’s all down to us, the viewers. Is it our gradual shift from linear TV towards what I see as being the more attractive immediacy of streaming that’s put the nail firmly in the coffin of the weekly gab-fest genre? Who knows? Who cares? Definitely not me, that’s for sure!

Let me make it clear, my dislike of the Late Late Show doesn’t extend to Ryan Tubridy. Quite the opposite, because I think Ryan is a highly intelligent gentleman who has a really nice way about him. In fact, during my own days working at the national broadcaster there was many a time where, whenever we’d both find ourselves in the RTÉ canteen (‘the canner’ as we all called it), I’d sit with him while I had my coffee and we’d chat about life and our girls, etc.

Therefore, this week, as bookies take bets on who’ll succeed Ryan, and predecessor Pat Kenny morphs into an astrologer like the recently departed Mystic Meg – predicting it is “almost inevitable” that the new host will be a woman – I want to ask two questions. One, how much of Tubs’ €440,000 salary is linked to hosting this drab, insipid show, and two, will RTÉ continue to try and scrounge money out of its bored and thoroughly fed up viewers to over-pay his successor?

Leo’s intern joke

Did anyone else feel a bit sorry for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar over his ‘off the cuff’ remark or ‘apparent joke’ as some of those stiff-upper-lipped British tabloids are calling it, allegedly referencing former US president Bill Clinton and his intern Monica Lewinsky?

For those who missed what I’m calling Leo’s ‘did you hear the one about the Irish intern?’ joke, let me explain. Last week, on the eve of our national saint’s day, Leo, possibly in a desperate attempt to be hilarious (bless him), told a US audience that he was once ‘an intern when some parents would have had cause for concern about what would happen to interns in Washington’. Ooops!

Apparently, ‘some of the audience laughed’ – which clearly means some didn’t. For the record, the ones who didn’t should all be hauled before a judge and charged with growing a vineyard full of sour grapes!

It was only last week that ‘comedians’ on US TV show Saturday Night Live mocked and jeered our Irish heritage with their offensive, racist, and bigoted Banshees of Inisherin ‘sketch’. But did we make a federal case out of it? Not a bit! Why? Because we’re Irish. We’ve survived 800 years of British rule and persecution, and, while our neighbours may have tried to kill our beloved language, they sure as hell couldn’t kill our sense of humour. In short, we’re made of sterner stuff – and we shook it off!

Besides, both Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky have, due to their ‘dalliance’, kind of morphed into eminently mockable characters with, dare I say, these off-the-cuff jokes kind of shaping the latter’s public persona down the decades.

Leave Leo alone – let him have his little joke. Besides, given this government’s failure to spend the whopping €999 million they’d ‘earmarked’ for housing over the past four years while the entire nation has been (and remains) in the grip of a housing crisis, I’d say he’s got bigger problems to face.

Who’s footing bill for President Biden’s visit to Ireland?

Manholes are being welded shut, security sweeps are already underway, and high-level talks are taking place between the White House, the US State Department, our Government, and the Irish Embassy in a bid to prepare for the ‘homecoming’ of the USA’s second most Oirish President (the first being JFK)…Joe Biden!

Reportedly coming here for a whistle-stop six-day trip at the end of April, (dates yet to be determined), to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, President Biden (apparently accompanied by Bill and Hilary Clinton; morto for you, Leo) is expected to spend two days visiting family in Mayo.

While I’m absolutely delighted for our neighbouring county, I have to ask who’s going to foot the massive bill for President Biden’s visit to his ancestral home? As an aside, this is a possible swansong visit, because Joe’s by no means certain of being re-elected.

I’m extremely proud of our nation’s historic Good Friday Agreement, believing that we should of course celebrate it. However, given that so many Irish people are eking out a living on the breadline, struggling to meet their bills (me included), the fact that our government can find the funds to host a fanfare for another country’s leader – and his entourage – leaves me with a bitterly sour taste in my mouth.