Veering West

COLM TOBIN: A replacement for Tubs? Seems to be one for everyone in the audience

May 15th, 2023 11:00 AM

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WE are weeks into the hunt for the successor to Tubbers and there is an air of desperation emanating from Montrose. 

Candidates are dropping faster than the poor fellas out of Squid Games. 

The way things are looking, Shergar could well turn up before they find the new Gaybo. There are so many names being trotted out at this stage – almost one for everybody in the audience. 

We all agree that the job should probably go to a woman this time around, but it seems that there is no woman in Ireland who will touch it with a barge pole. Apparently, Claire Byrne is happy enough with her radio show and the opportunity to spend more time with her young family. 

Sarah McInerney is content presenting Prime Time and Drivetime in the lead-up to the next general election. 

She tweeted: ‘I’d like to confirm that I’m not taking over The Late Late Show from either Ryan Tubridy or James Corden. Nor have I sought Waystar from Logan Roy.’ 

Unfortunately, these are the sorts of zingers the Late Late opening monologue needs right now. Yet Sarah seems happy to waste them grilling Donie Cassidy about golf dinners. 

The big surprise, perhaps, was Miriam O’Callaghan ruling herself out, especially given she’s been flirting with light entertainment in recent years. She would be a shoo-in for the role, you’d imagine.  And anyone who has listened to her Sunday morning radio show will know she’s never been readier for the prolonged tedium of Friday nights on RTÉ One. 

The truth is that all three women are far too smart to don the dusty captain’s uniform on a ship which, even though it hasn’t exactly been sinking, is well past its glory days. The Late Late might be a behemoth that has woven itself into the fabric of the Irish national conversation, sure, but it’s hardly the appointment-to-view TV it once was. 

And in a world of multiple TV chat shows from all corners of the globe where you get bigger celebrities flogging bigger books to bigger markets, you’d have to wonder what the future holds for our homegrown version.

And that’s before you even mention the words Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Arguably, Tommy Tiernan took many of the best elements of the old Late Late and fused them into a delicious new package. His show understands the importance of allowing conversations to meander and the fact he doesn’t know who the guests are (or at least does a good job pretending he doesn’t) contains the sort of in-built spontaneity that made Gaybo’s old show so riveting. 

Not that Gaybo’s Late Late was always riveting either, lads – I remember it being dull as dishwater in the 1990s.

Tommy Tiernan’s rise as talk show kingpin has proven that an Irish chat show in the right hands can still create those big watercooler moments that has all the office talking on a Monday morning. And he may have launched a torpedo into the Late Late’s complacency in the process. 

Of course, you could lazily slap an owl before the opening credits of Tiernan’s show and move him to Friday, but why mess with a format that already works quite nicely? 

And Tiernan’s tone is hardly everyone’s cup of tea, with a more satirical edge and a tendency towards the obscure, it’s hardly fodder for big car company sponsorship deals. I can’t see him doing a two-hour special with Nathan Carter, can you?

Comedian Patrick Kielty is arguably the most interesting potential candidate and brings talent, experience and a very unique perspective to the table. With huge political shifts taking place on this island, he could be an intriguing character to navigate the years ahead, and the likelihood of a Sinn Féin government and a border poll in the offing. Still, though, Paddy Kielty on Fridays and Tommy Tiernan on Saturdays hardly screams diversity and inclusion, does it?

There is also the chance that absolutely none of these candidates will take a punt on what is essentially the property of the ghost of Gay Byrne. 

Tubridy soldiered on admirably for a time and did some of the best Toy Shows in memory, but even with his geekish loyalty to the House of Byrne, he still couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to keep the old beast lumbering along. 

It’s not that it’s a young man’s game, or a young woman’s game, for that matter. It’s a game from a different time that may be impossible to radically rejuvenate without alienating a lot of the audience. A tough gig.

When I think about it, I’d sooner be Taoiseach. 

From Hair to here ...

Speaking of leaders … We saw a whole rainbow of male leadership styles on these islands over the past week. 

First, you had Trump arriving in Clare to observe his struggling business interests and bluster around on the golf course for a few hours. 

The Donald provided his usual explosion of seedy headlines and tawdry controversy. 

He’s just like a small bomb going off in a fake tan factory, spewing a toxic orange mist of confusion everywhere for a few days. And then he fecks off. 

You’d be exhausted just thinking about the fact he’s physically on the same island. 

Then there was the coronation of King Charles III in London, an occasion of such pomp and pageantry, it made Game of Thrones look like an episode of Fair City. 

I actually felt sorry for the English when I was watching it. 

On the one hand, I completely respect their right to choose whatever head of state they want and put whatever fancy hat they want on top of his head. 

But, on the other hand, I did have the quiet, sad thought that however good their intentions were, the whole world was kinda laughing at their unhealthy obsession with an era that is past and gone. 

Each to their own, I suppose.

The Boss and Charlie Bird

Meanwhile, in Dublin, The Boss arrived for another bone-chilling, eardrum-drilling, pension pot-filling night of blue-collar American rock in the RDS. 

You get the sense that even though we are ostensibly a democracy, Bruce Springsteen could probably organise a coup in the morning if he took the notion. 

With tickets at around €150 a pop, and that’s before the wedge you’d need to spend on warm Heineken and hot dogs, it’s a working man’s revolution of a different order. 

But Bruce always knows the right notes to hit. He went for a scoop in The Long Hall pub. Visited Shane McGowan at home. Mentioned Charlie Bird. 

Brought the house down on three nights. The rest, as they say, is priceless. 

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