The busiest Friday night of the year...mayhem! 

This will be the third Late Late Toy Show, Gareth Naughton gets to work on, as press officer. The former Evening Echo reporter and film reviewer talks about his love of writing, moving to PR and his favourite haunts in Cork 
The busiest Friday night of the year...mayhem! 
Press officer on The Late Late Show, Gareth Naughton.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work:

I am the press officer on The Late Late Show and, as a result, I do the same job for The Late Late Toy Show, so this is the biggest weekend of the year for me. I am originally from Longford, the son of a factory worker and a seamstress, the youngest of three and uncle to six nieces and nephews.

I was mad for reading when I was growing up - I always had my head stuck in a book, a newspaper, the back of a cornflakes packet - so writing was always going to be part of my future. Having decided that I wanted to be a journalist when it came time to fill out my CAO form, I went to college to study it and I was lucky enough to get consistent work for the 14 years I was one.

I have lived and worked all over the place, including for this very paper where I spent six years as a film reviewer. I have always been a bit inquisitive - the best thing my father ever taught me was to never be afraid to question anything - so being a journalist and critic was right up my alley.

I moved to the dark side of the fence - PR - just over two years ago when I took a chance on a job that came up in RTÉ. Television has always been a huge part of my life - I was one of those annoying kids in the 80s who was blessed to have “the multi-channel” - so getting to work on a show like The Late Late Show, which is so deeply ingrained in the Irish psyche and culture, is a real privilege. I am still a film buff, I go as often as I can and in my spare time if I am not in the cinema, I’m reading or cooking recipes that are probably slightly beyond my actual capabilities. But I haven’t poisoned anyone yet.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

I guess I should say that my ideal Friday night is staying in to watch The Late Late Show Truthfully, I did watch the show many Friday nights before I started working on it – largely because I was convinced I was going to win the viewer prize but I’m sadly ineligible for that now. I’d have to say that a few drinks with friends after work and a good meal would be ideal and maybe even take in a film at the cinema if we have time. My Friday nights aren’t my own these days though! This Friday night will be the busiest of the year - this will be my third Toy Show but nothing prepares you for the mayhem that ensues. It is great craic though.

Lie-ins or up with the lark, which is it for you?

At the weekends, if you can manage it you have to lie in surely! You spend the majority of your life dragging yourself out of bed to go to work, so it would be pure madness to give up the opportunity to snooze in bed. This is particularly the case when it is raining outside, and we do live in Ireland.

RTE's Ryan Tubridy pictured with students from the Denise Moriarty School of Dance and the School of Uke, Cork at the launch of The Late Late Toy Show Audition Tour in Cork city, earlier this year.Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
RTE's Ryan Tubridy pictured with students from the Denise Moriarty School of Dance and the School of Uke, Cork at the launch of The Late Late Toy Show Audition Tour in Cork city, earlier this year.Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

Yes, very much so. When The Late Late Show is in season, I work every Friday night. As press officer for the show it’s my job to encourage people to watch the show week-to-week. Part of that is to ensure that it is part of the national conversation over the weekend, so on Friday nights my job is to cut clips from the programme and issue them on social media. We would sometimes have a drink after the show – it can be hard to wind down if it has been a particularly busy one. On Saturday mornings, I follow up on any stories that might have emerged from the show. One of the curses of being a press officer is that you’re never really off – you get calls at all times of the day about issues big and small. On a good weekend, the phone stays silent!

If money was no object, where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

At the risk of being really obvious, I’d have to say New York and, given that money is no object and you basically have to sell a kidney to get a hotel room that isn’t the size of matchbox, I’d be staying in the poshest hotel I could find! Or I’d live out some childhood dreams by staying at the Plaza and hunting through Central Park for a mad pigeon lady like Kevin McAllister did in Home Alone 2. It goes without saying but New York is amazing. I’m one of those very annoying city people - I am not really up for lounging around on sunbeds doing nothing all day – so I’d be taking someone who wants to get out and about and take in the city properly.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

A walk along the river is a good way of clearing the head and if I’m feeling the urge to pretend I’m a thoughtful character in an upmarket BBC drama, I’ll go stand on the edge of a pier for a while! For a proper recharge though, I think you need to get yourself away to somewhere like Inchydoney and forget about everything.

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

I do and I don’t, to be honest. I can have some fairly hectic working weeks, so I tend to keep a good portion of the weekend for myself. I’m not a hermit but sometimes I just want to lounge at home watching telly and reading; maybe head to the cinema or have a nose around an outdoor market... which all makes me sound insufferable! I meet up with friends for dinner and drinks most weekends and if I’m feeling ambitious we’ll throw a brunch in there too, unless I’ve travelled home to spend time with my family. I’m not big on planning my weekend, I never have been. I prefer to leave things up in the air and hope something happens.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

Well, luckily enough I work in television now and that has always been my first love! I have a particular grá for Australian reality television. A close second would be film. When I was the Evening Echo’s film reviewer I got too used to watching films on my tod, so I love nipping into the cinema at the weekend to see whatever is on, whether that’s a blockbuster or something obscure that’s going to make me sigh a lot. Sadly, I have to pay for them now and only my friends suffer my opinions!

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

I am a fan of both – who doesn’t want to have their dinner cooked for them? I do love cooking though – there is great satisfaction to be had in putting together a good meal and seeing people enjoy it. I do a mean lamb dhansak which is entirely down to Mary Berry’s good instruction.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork - where are your go-to spots for coffee/lunch/special meal?

The food is one of my favourite things about Cork. You can’t beat Liberty Grill for lunch – it is worth queuing for - and I am a big fan of Elbow Lane, the food in there is delicious. I am not terribly fussy when it comes to coffee but I’d definitely nip into Cork Coffee Roasters if I am up that way.

Sunday night comes around too fast. How do you normally spend it?

This is a painfully boring answer but most Sunday nights I’ll be getting ready for the week’s work . I am also a sucker for a genteel Sunday night drama like Downton Abbey or the much missed Ballykissangel, so I’ll watch one of those.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

Happily I don’t start work until 10am, so on a Monday morning I’m usually up at about 7.30am. If I have been really organised the night before I can stretch that to after 8am. I check the papers online on the way into work and then the whole thing starts all over again.

The Late Late Toy Show airs on RTÉ One on tonight at 9.35pm.

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