He's a Connor: Brendan gets the boot from Saturday Night Show

NewsBy Eugene Masterson
Brendan O'Connor
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O’Connor last night made a shock announcement that he is leaving the Saturday Night Show at the end of this season.

‘Prodigal son’ Ray D’Arcy is now set to take over the same slot in the autumn, but with a slightly different format.

However, O’Connor is not finished with RTE as the Cork man is to front a new TV show next year.

The new plan will mean that D’Arcy will be working six days per week for most of the year. 

The Kildare man currently collects a E300,000 salary, having returned to Montrose in January to take the reins of Derek Mooney’s old radio show on RTE1 in the afternoons.

This will also be his first primetime TV chat show and there is speculation that RTE may try and mimic a format similar to Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

The development comes as a blow to O’Connor, who had thought his position may have been safe as he had recently been winning the ratings battle with the Late Late Show.

O’Connor (45), was paid E228,000 in 2011 to present the Saturday Night Show, but that is said to have been cut to around E180,000.#

Ray D'Arcy

Meanwhile, O’Connor is due to stand-in in for John Murray on his RTE 1 radio show from tomorrow while the presenter is away on holidays.

Former Rose of Tralee host D’Arcy made a shock announcement late last year that he was leaving Today FM.

Yesterday, RTE chief Glen Killane said O’Connor will return to RTE One with a brand-new prime time entertainment show in early 2016.

“Brendan has proven himself to be a great talent and we are delighted that he will remain central to RTÉ One’s prime time schedule,” he said.

“As the national broadcaster, we have to constantly innovate and renew our schedules and these changes will allow Brendan to continue to make an impact in an important part of the RTÉ One schedule.”

Last night, O’Connor said he was delighted to be going out on a high and was looking forward to his new show.

“It’s been a great five years and this year in particular has been a great one for The Saturday Night Show. Myself and the team are delighted to be going out on a high and I am very excited about inventing a newer, even better show,” he said.

Asked earlier this year about the rumours that Ray may replace him on the Saturday night TV slot, Brendan had quipped: “You couldn’t possibly replace me!”

He added: “I haven’t heard a word from anyone about all that. I just hear when the papers ring or whatever. I did see Ray D’Arcy is going to present an Ant and Dec style show instead of the Saturday Night Show, so that sounds good.”

Regarding the future of the show and his position as presenter, he said: “It was my birthday last Friday. I was 45, and I remember that five years before, on my 40th birthday, I was out in RTE doing a dry run for the first Saturday Night Show.

“I would, at that stage, never have expected to start doing an RTE Saturday night chat show and certainly never expected to last five years. I would have presumed I’d have done something majorly disastrous at this stage and be pulled off due to a national scandal – and we came close to a few of those along the way. Look, it’s been a great five years.”

D’Arcy (50), began his career on Radio na Gaeltacht and joined RTE in 1988, becoming a presenter on children’s show Jo Maxi.

He presented the afternoon kids programme The Den (inset) from 1990 to 1998 and also did shows on 2FM.

In the late 1990s he moved to Today FM, competing directly with the Gerry Ryan Show.

He kept his ties with RTE though, presenting TV shows such as You’re A Star, the Rose of Tralee and taking part in Celebrity Banisteoir.