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Pat Kenny says ‘pressure is off RTE’ after female stars drop out of Late Late Show race

Kenny also addressed speculation that RTE is considering hiring a male and female presenter to host the show

Late Late Show hosts Gay Byrne with Pat Kenny

Eddie Rowley

Legendary broadcaster Pat Kenny says the decision of three prominent female presenters to drop out of The Late Late Show battle takes the pressure off RTE to chose a woman to replace Ryan Tubridy.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday World, Kenny also addressed speculation that RTE is considering hiring a male and female presenter to host the show, saying a double-header wouldn’t work.

Three of the female front runners, Miriam O’Callaghan, Claire Byrne and Sarah McInerney have all taken their name out of the hat for the Late Late job.

Long-time favourite Claire Byrne also recently dropped out of the race. Photo: Collins

“Terry Prone [communications guru] made the point on my Newstalk radio show on Friday that RTE are now free of the shackles of selecting a woman, that they may have felt that they had to select a woman because they had three males presenting the Late Late Show,” Pat says.

“It’s an iconic show and we’re in a new era where a lot of the presenters on sport are now women, a lot of the news presenters are now women and there are relatively few men who are now front of house on a lot of programmes.

“They may have felt that they had to select a woman for the Late Late, but Terry made the point that as so many prominent women have said ‘no’ they can feel free [to select a man] and if anyone criticises them they can say, ‘look, basically we asked a pile of women and they all said no, or we discussed it with the agents of a lot of women’.

“They shouldn’t even have to address that, it should not be a gendered role, but I can see where the pressure comes from if they stuck in a guy without all this stuff going on; there would be criticism as to why it wasn’t a woman. RTE have now been released from that obligation according to Terry Prone, who is quite the analyst, I think.”

There were rumours in the industry that RTE have been considering having two people, a male and female, hosting the Late Late as it goes forward.

“I don’t think that would work,” Pat says. “Double headers work on breakfast shows. It’s much more difficult to do a talk show late at night where the two have got to gabble with each other. Even if you look at Dancing With The Stars, they separate the two presenters and when they’re together it doesn’t really work.”

Pat also said whoever takes over the show will face a major challenge because it’s more difficult for the Late Late Show to build massive viewing figures.

“We live in a different era where two things are happening — the streamers are making inroads into live television, so it makes it harder to get those big numbers every week as an audience. And since the pandemic, Hollywood guests feel they can do it from their living room on Zoom and you do need those wow moments in the studio where you say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, will you please welcome Rod Stewart!”

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