He and the cream of the station’s talent turned out for the launch of its new season, which promises a host of new as well as established programmes.
The line-up includes a blend of comedy, a fresh approach to current affairs and a look at Ireland’s changing lifestyles as part of the station’s programmes over the coming months.
But great efforts had been made, explained director of programmes Steve Carson, to protect home productions. This had included making cutbacks in some areas, he admitted.
“Despite the financial difficulties we’ve focused the effort to keep the money on the screen,” he told a gathering of stars at the launch.
He said the budgets of some programmes had been cut by between 7% and 10% to help keep productions up.
RTÉ has lined up 55 new home-produced series and 45 returning series – including a return of the old reliables like the Clinic, Raw and a one-off special of Pure Mule, which will show its characters trying to cope in economic free-fall.
Among the new shows are The Frontline, presenter Pat Kenny’s new Monday night slot which replaces Questions and Answers. Each show will vary, sometimes including a panel and other times featuring one-on-one interviews with Kenny. There will also be more interaction with the audience.
His successor meanwhile for The Late Late Show, Ryan Tubridy, was nervous but all smiles yesterday as he explained his new role hosting Ireland’s most popular show.
“I’m still getting to terms of saying that I present The Late Late Show. That’s still quite alien to me because it is so big, iconic and important in terms of Irish television. I still see myself almost like a kid watching it.”
Ryan said his production team had shown huge ambition targeting guests for the show. The 36-year-old will be bringing some of his band from his former Saturday night show with him. Viewers can also expect a different signature tune for the show, Ryan said.
Meanwhile, a number of new entertainment shows will feature on Irish screens. A live comedy show looking at events in the week will be presented by Neil Delamere while comedian Jason Byrne will present his Bryne Ultimatum, which will mirror the popular British show Have I Got News For You.
Fr Ted actor Ardal O’Hanlon will also appear in a new series about a hapless rural politician. Several new lifestyle programmes also lie ahead, including Victoria and Shane’s Garden, a curious look into how rock wife Victoria tries to get Pogues singer Shane to live the good life.
A host of already popular programmes make a return including Podge and Rodge, Raw, Pure Mule and Off the Rails.
Economist David McWilliams will also present a new factual programme examining the wreckage of the global economic crash, called Addicted to Money.
Elsewhere, presenter Marian Finucane will chair a new series called Does God Hate? in which she will host people from a variety of faiths, while Gráinne Seoige returns centre stage presenting the All-Ireland Talent Show.