THEY say it’s better to be born lucky than smart. Ryan Tubridy is more fortunate than most, being both lucky and smart – along with having the gift of the gab that has made him the biggest name in Irish broadcasting in the space of a few short years.
In little more than a decade, he has gone from being Gerry Ryan’s tea boy to the pinnacle of success. Tubridy is everywhere and he doesn’t seem to have an “off” button: hosting the Late Late Show on television, and now taking over Ryan’s radio slot next month on RTÉ 2fm, to make him the fourth highest-paid broadcaster in the country. The presenter earned €533,333 in 2008, the last year for which figures are available, a nearly 50% increase on his 2007 earnings of €366,867.
Tubridy was born lucky. A nephew of former government minister David Andrews and also of a former MEP, the late Niall Andrews, he first saw the light of day in Blackrock, Dublin in 1973 and went on to be educated at the prestigious and reassuringly expensive Blackrock College. Politics is in his blood, so it was no surprise he joined the Kevin Barry Cumman of Fianna Fáil while at UCD.
As for broadcasting, he was an early starter. His drive and focus was evident from the age of 12 when he began reviewing books for the Radio 2 programme Poporama, presented by Ruth Buchanan.
Even then, he was a high earner, making IR£25 per show, not bad for a pre-teen.
After leaving college he became a runner in RTÉ, initially working on The Gerry Ryan Show making tea and coffee. “The moment I set foot in RTÉ,” recalls Tubridy, “he put his wing around me and said: ‘I like what you do. I like what you are. I’m going to look after you.’”
He was as good as his word, helping Tubridy’s steady if unspectacular rise in RTÉ radio. In the summer of 1999 he presented Morning Glory on RTÉ Radio 1 and in July of 2000 he moved to The Sunday Show, one of Radio 1’s premiere Sunday morning shows. From 2002 until 2005 he presented 2fm’s popular morning show, The Full Irish. Then he took over Marian Finucane’s time slot on Radio 1 with The Tubridy Show, and next month will see him back on his old stomping ground on 2fm, filling his former boss Gerry Ryan’s old morning slot.
Described cuttingly by Pat Kenny as “a young man in a hurry”, Tubridy’s TV credits are equally impressive and he appears to have an unrivalled sense of timing. Summer 2004 saw him present his own game show, All Kinds of Everything, and in October 2004, he started his chat show career with the newly-created Tubridy Tonight. The show proved so successful that in May 2009, Tubridy was announced as the host of the Late Late Show. His role as host has led to some public feuds with his guests, including Gordon Ramsay – “a bit, em, British for my liking” – and Louis Walsh for giving the Jedward twins a hard time on The Late Late Toy Show. Nevertheless, these public spats haven’t hurt the ratings – the opposite, in fact. Since taking the big seat, viewership figures have reached 1.6 million.
While Tubridy’s career has flourished, he has had mixed success in his personal life. He met his wife, the producer Anne Marie Power, at RTÉ in 1997 and they married in 2003, separating three years later. He is currently involved in a high-profile romance with TV and radio presenter, Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain.
Clearly proving that he can create his own luck in broadcasting, Tubridy also knows when to say “No”. He turned down a recent offer from the BBC to sign a three-month deal to present Jonathan Ross’s Saturday morning radio show. According to Gay Byrne, that was a clever move.
“This would have seemed like a wonderful opportunity for Ryan but how could he do it? This would have disrupted his preparations for the doing the Late Late Show over here,” said the former LLS host.
Tubridy’s agent, Noel Kelly, confirmed his client had been in negotiations to present the Saturday morning slot on Radio 2 after Ross quit the BBC. He said after consideration he had decided not to take up their offer. “It was a huge compliment to hear from the BBC but things changed and I think Ryan made the right decision,” said Kelly.
He said: “There is a huge amount of preparation done on the Late Late Show before it starts each season and Ryan is totally focused on that.
“He didn’t want to be distracted. He is also starting work on his new programme on 2fm.”
The station’s flagship programme will run from 9am to 11am, an hour less than The Gerry Ryan Show, and will begin at the end of August.
In between times, Tubridy is writing a book on the visit to Ireland in 1963 by President John F Kennedy and, with an eye to the media future and its youthful audience, he is doing it, chapter by chapter, on his website, and writing about it on Twitter and Facebook. The book will also be accompanied by a TV documentary, hosted by, you guessed it, Ryan Tubridy.
There appears to be no stopping “the young man in a hurry”.
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