Who will win the battle of the Irish TV sofas?

Dull was not the adjective to best describe the colour scheme of the debut offering of TV3’s afternoon show, Late Lunch Live.

Who will win the battle of the Irish TV sofas?

The cerise pink of Martin King’s polo shirt contrasted sharply with the lime green of the sofa on which he perched in almost perfect symmetry with his (less ostentatiously clad) co-host, Lucy Kennedy.

Like love birds on a swing, the TV spouses finished each other’s sentences, interrupted each other often and pulled faces behind each other’s backs. Their rapport was as easy and natural as that of a real-life couple - the sort who like each other and share great chemistry.

Lucy was nervous. This was her first gig as a live broadcaster. Amusingly, she introduced Louis Walsh as ‘Miss’ rather than ‘Mr’, before hurriedly correcting herself. Martin laughed endearingly, causing Louis and Lucy to grin foolishly — in a lovely way.

So far, so good. But the niceness threatened to turn naughty when Walsh asked Kennedy: ‘Do you have a horn for me?’ She did, so she handed him one. The comment went over Lucy’s head, but reduced King to a fit of giggles. This alerted Walsh to the folly of his word-choice and he and King exchanged mirthful glances.

While Late Lunch Live will not air at the same time as RTÉ’s Dáithí Ó Sé and Maura Derrane fronted Today show, when it returns to the small screen today, it’s likely that the two programmes will be aiming for a similar audience.

It’s likely, too, that the new TV3 show will impact in some way on the popularity of the RTÉ show which, according to series editor, Conor Crowley, attracted 120,000 viewers last season. As to which show will be more popular, content, entertainment value and rapport between the presenters will play a role.

Both shows could stir things up a bit, take more risks and try hard to offer something different. As individuals, Ó Sé and Derrane have oodles to offer, but they’ve less on-screen chemistry than King and Kennedy.

O’Sé’s gift of the gab, warmth and sense of humour has endeared him to many, but he shines brighter off the Today show than he does on it. Derrane too, is much admired, but it’s possible that the glamorous gaeilgeoir has yet to land a TV role that better suits her personality than that of talk show host.

It’ll be a while before viewers forget the minor hiccup that was Sausagegate. This was the Today episode in which Irish Pictorial Weekly’s Eleanor Tiernan expressed deadpan distain for sausage-centred sexually-charged banter between older women and young butchers.

In response, the usually fun-filled Daithi uttered ‘Really?’ before falling as silent as a non-sizzling sausage. Maura dived in to fill the breach. “We’ll pork that there now,” she ordered. Well, she didn’t. What she said was a somewhat humourless: ‘We’ll park that there now.’

Tiernan’s rant was manna from heaven, a golden opportunity for levity, cheekiness and just enough naughtiness to keep viewers amused without being offended. She offered the equivalent of a 99 cone, then tempted the presenters to lick. In response, Daithi (a former butcher) sat staring, Maura shooed her away, and viewers wept.

According to Kathy Littler, Late Lunch Live’s series producer, the fact that the show will be packed full of humour is what will make it different. “Lucy and Martin are both extremely funny people,” she adds.

She’s right and viewers will love them for it. That said, the Today show has a loyal following, and topping their audience will be no easy task for Lucy and Martin.

As for whether there are storms or sunshine ahead for the two shows, Ó Sé and King may, as former weather forecasters, be best placed to predict.

* Late Lunch Live is at 2.30pm weekdays on TV3; The Today show is at 4.30pm weekdays on RTÉ 1

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