'disappointing' | 

RTE's Sinead Kennedy insists Winning Streak can't come back due to Covid 'safety issues'

'Until it's safe to do it its best to leave it alone'
Sinead Kennedy will host Zoo Live on June 7. Picture: Kip Carroll

Sinead Kennedy will host Zoo Live on June 7. Picture: Kip Carroll

Eugene Masterson

Winning Streak presenter Sinead Kennedy has defended a decision not to bring back the programme this year because of Covid.

While programmes like the Late Late Show has resumed as normal with audiences, the lottery gameshow is still off air because of concerns about the spread of the disease.

"It's disappointing Winning Streak isn't coming back anytime soon and it was disappointing when it was taken off initially, but obviously mixed with a total understanding as to why that call was made," Sinead tells the Sunday World.

"Until it's safe to do it its best to leave it alone, because we need the audience. We want everybody to come up and have a good time and until we do that the way we used to do it, well then I understand it not coming back."

She points out there is a difference between the set-up of Winning Streak and the Late Late Show.

"You're in for a longer period of time - certainly for the contestants they are there all day," she points out.

"You just have to be so careful with people, and you wouldn't want to be responsible for anybody being unwell, that's for sure. It's better to be safe when it comes to Winning Streak and I totally understand that. Every show is different and has different requirements."

Over three nights from Tuesday on RTÉ 1 Sinead will host a live programme from Dublin Zoo, with Jedward, Doireann Garrihy and Kevin McGahern as celebrity zookeepers.

"I love all the big cats. I'm obsessed with them. I can watch them all day. It's something about the way they move. There's something elegant and graceful about them. I love the lions, jaguar, leopard, cheetah, any big cat," smiles Sinead.

"I think everybody loves the elephants and I'm very lucky they have purpose built the set inside in the African savannah with the giraffes at giraffe height, so they will be the backdrop, along with Jedward and everything. The set has gone in already, Dublin Zoo are incredible when it comes to obviously animal welfare, it's their number one priority.

"The animals can habituate to the set and get used to the fact it's in their world for another few days. You'd be hard pushed now to find a more beautiful set than a set right in the middle of the African savannah at Dublin Zoo. That is going to be an experience, it's going to be incredible and I cannot wait, to be up so high and be live, and I adore animals and I always go to zoos in whatever country I go to. "

Viewer will also get the chance to name a baby red panda.

Sinead herself became as mother in April last year when she gave birth to daughter Indie in Cork University Maternity Hospital.

"She is a little dream boat; she has been the absolute making of me. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me, bar none," she beams.

She also explains the background to the unusual name.

"I heard it first on my travels the first time I was in Australia about 20 years. All I remember is always loving the name and saying if ever I had a girl I would call her Indie. So, when she came out and she was a girl, it was 'oh my god I have an Indie, she exclaims.

Sinead's husband Conor is an officer with the Irish Navy.

"Thankfully Conor liked the name too, otherwise there could have been words," she chuckles. "But it was a name I had always thought about. After I called her Indie - it's not like she's the only person in the world called Indie - but only afterwards I heard other people saying, 'oh I know such and such Indie'.

"Then I was doing the weaning and the Joe Wicks book came into my world, because I don't do any exercise, so I never had his exercise book, but I bought the baby weening book and he has an Indie. I'm hearing it in a lot more places."

Conor is on secondment to the European Defence Agency and based in Brussels.

"We were separated for a lot of my pregnancy but thankfully for most of my maternity leave we were together, but when I came back from maternity leave and he was back from extended leave, we have spent time apart which is a little bit tricky when you have a small one," she explains.

"His job was incredible. They allowed him work at home for a few weeks prior to my due date, so that he'd definitely be in the country and through his isolation period would have enough time to be able take leave and come with me, so I was very lucky he was able to be there."

She adds: It's such an emotional, to see your baby being born is just the most incredible feeling in the world. I feel I was overwhelmed. Conor was only allowed stay with me for a little while I was in recovery and then he had to go, so that was tough. It was tough for him, because I had just had a baby, as I was in the hospital with the baby while he goes home, so it all probably felt a bit surreal for him for a few days until I came home."

Indie is now walking and talking.

"She's flying around the place," she confirms. " She's got her few words, 'mum', 'dad'. She knows what the cos says, the sheep and the money. We are working on donkeys and cats at the moment. She's obsessed with dogs. The most important thing she can encounter is a bow wow on any given day and we have two in my parents' house, so she's absolutely obsessed with dogs."

Zoo Live is on RTÉ 1 at 7pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

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