WHILE our neighbours across the water are gearing up for the Coronation of King Charles, we have our own succession drama going on in Ireland. Who will replace Ryan Tubridy as host of The Late Late Show? And it’s certainly an issue on which everyone has an opinion!
Last week, I wrote here that the role is ‘an impossible job’ as it has to combine serious interviewing with a light-hearted touch - and that the best way to overcome this would be to appoint a double act.
I proposed two pairings - Sarah McInerney and Marty Morrissey, or Brendan O’Connor and Jennifer Zamparelli.
Well, the response to my musings from readers was remarkable - truly off the charts. I don’t recall seeing such a reaction in all my 18 years writing this column.
We were inundated by opinions - on whether The Late Late Show should continue, and who the host should be - on email and on our EchoLive.ie Facebook page.
So large was the response, that it ended up constituting a poll of who the good people of Cork wanted as the new host. So, I counted the votes, verified them. and here are the results... drum roll please!
In first place, by a country mile, was our very own Bishopstown TV host and journalist, Brendan O’Connor (come on, we Leesiders are in no way biased here!)
He was put forward by 41 people - and if you add in the numbers of thumbs-up on Facebook when his name was proposed, it’s safe to say that Brendan has the backing of hundreds of Cork people.
On Facebook, Yvonne Kertsch called him “a national treasure”, and pointed to his 2013 interview with Donal Walsh on The Saturday Night Show, where the 16-year-old Kerry boy told of his terminal cancer.
“It was one of those moments when you were just mesmerised... he steered through such a heart-breaking interview and still managed to make him and the audience smile,” said Yvonne.
Rejecting my call for co-hosts, Lisa Galvin said: “Brendan O’Connor for me. How about whoever gets the job would grow and gain confidence and enjoy it themselves?”
Mike Staff opined: “I think Brendan O’Connor should be the main presenter, assisted by co-presenters/interviewers, to provide expertise or back up when required, from time to time.”
But a word of warning to Brendan from Gerry Creighton Snr on Facebook - “It’s annoying when you say ‘Come here’ all the time!”
Brendan won our unofficial poll by a landslide, but the men in second and third may surprise you.
Baz Ashmawy and Anton Savage got 12 proposals apiece.
Reader Miriam O’Sullivan said: “To whom it may concern, what about Baz Ashmawy as the new Late Late host - an amazing, talented man on all topics.”
Susan Huston said: “Baz would be a great replacement, he has the personality, the wit, and his mum could guest star every other week.”
Lorna O’Rahilly stated: “I’d love to see Baz given a chance, he’d be brilliant as a people person with a fantastic sense of humour. The only query: could he conduct a serious hard-hitting interview?”
While Rosaleen Doris said: “I propose Anton Savage. He is a good presenter, can be very amusing and entertaining, but has a very good serious side which I have observed on occasions when he is on the Today programme.”
Jo McQuaid on Facebook said: “Anton Savage: intelligent witty and easy on the eye, has a young family so good for the Toy Show.”
All this is bleak news for those hoping the next Late Late host will be female - and, interestingly, the large majority of those putting names forward were women.
There were a couple of calls for Lucy Kennedy and Angela Scanlon, but Dustin the Turkey (ahem) beat them both with six votes.
Another Corkman, George Hook, got a couple of votes too, while those also nominated by readers included Maura Derrane and Dáithí Ó Sé (separately and together), Karen Koster, Alan Hughes, John Creedon, Patrick Kielty, Marty Morrissey, Tommy Tiernan, Virgin Media weatherman Deric Ó h’Artagáin, Panti Bliss, Hector Ó hEochagáin, U.S host Conan O’Brien, Tom Dunne, Amy Huberman, and Cork pair Matt Cooper and Graham Norton.
Even Kerry TDs Danny and Michael Healy Rae got mentions in despatches! Ah, come on!
Some readers did agree with my assessment that a double act would work best as co-hosts of The Late Late Show. Jedward got three votes, while two readers agreed with me that Brendan O’Connor and Jennifer Zamparelli would be a good pairing.
Rita Melly said: “Brendan and Jennifer would be a great fit. Maura and Dáithí on the Today Show are a great example, and have a great style and there is a chemistry in their presentation.”
Anne Minihane said: “Brendan and Jennifer would make great co-hosts, both are charming and intelligent. Both have great rapport with the public and have proven this in their work to date. Both provide great entertainment.”
Another reader suggested Brendan with Sarah McInerney, while Claire Byrne and Marty Morrissey was advocated by two. Paula Hanrahan said: “Simon Delaney and Elaine Crowley would be brill, and she’s a Cork lady.”
Other imaginative pairings proposed included:
- Anton Savage & Angela Scanlon
- Lucy Kennedy & Baz Ashmawy
- Cork broadcaster Matt Cooper & his wife, Aileen Hickey, a journalist-turned-barrister.
- Podge & Rodge
- Kathryn Thomas & Marty Whelan
- The 2 Johnnies
- Claire Byrne & Bernard O’Shea
- Sarah McInerney & Cormac Ó hEadhra Cormac of RTÉ Radio 1’s Drivetime.
Mary Barrett Reilly suggested: “Vogue Williams and Patrick Kielty would be an amazing combination. There has to be a female this time. Vogue, is kind, funny, knowledgeable. Great to get young people interested. Patrick is great fun, genuine, warm, and well able to deal with any subject.”
A few more ways to find a Late Late host were put forward.
Dave Leahy proposed turning the next season into a kind of reality show where the audience is judge: “A different presenter every week for a season and see who comes out on top.”
But Gerry Leonard warned: “God help whoever takes over because their career will be over. Kill it off now before it kills itself.”
Greg Keighery surely deserves the last word for this gem of a comment: “The next host of The Late Late Show should be Dermot Bannon, he is on it nearly every week as it is.”
Oh, and my throwaway line at the end of last week’s column about doing away with the Late Late Country Special drew much ire from many of you! Put your spurs away, readers, I’ll allow you your week of fun. Yee-hah!