TAOISEACH Brian Cowen will be the first guest on the new season of the Late Late Show tonight as Ryan Tubridy takes over the hottest seat in Irish TV.

The 36-year-old broadcaster takes over the reins of the world’s longest-running chat show by scooping the first major TV interview to be given by the embattled Taoiseach in the past few months.

While there may not be an economic recovery for everyone in the audience, Tubridy hopes the interview will effectively become a “state of the nation” address by the Fianna Fáil leader.

“The country is at a complete crossroads. The polls in the papers indicate that he is someone who will want to talk to the people.

“He is a man who people want to see. I think they want to look in the whites of his eyes and see what’s happening.”

Tubridy said the Taoiseach had not insisted on any preconditions on the interview’s format.

A Late Late interview last year by Pat Kenny was criticised for being “too soft” on Mr Cowen.

Tubridy has promised viewers “a great line-up” for his first Late Late Show with guests including Joan Collins. It is understood the show will also feature Cherie Blair, and Sharon Corr of The Corrs will play a track from her new solo album.

“I think people are sick of bad news and sick of knocking other people and sick of bleak forecasts. They want something good and decent to happen. And, hopefully, for two hours on a Friday night from here until next May, we will provide an escape hatch from the difficulties the country is facing at the moment,” said Tubridy.

He admitted to being “almost a nervous wreck” as he prepares to follow in the footsteps of Gay Byrne and Pat Kenny in anchoring RTÉ’s flagship programme.

The new set design has been described as “contemporary retro” by RTÉ sources, although a sneak preview yesterday revealed a studio that wouldn’t seem out of place in an IKEA showroom.

Tubridy was delighted with the walnut table, which will form the centrepiece on TV screens.


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