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Saturday 20 December 2014

Tubridy outgrows RTE's dull guests

CAREER HIGH: At 35, it could be time that Tubridy moved on to pastures new

Sometimes it must be tough being Ryan Tubridy. I'm serious. Consider the facts.

In little more than a decade the precocious Tubridy has risen from being a roving reporter on Pat Kenny's radio show to being the host of his own top-rated Saturday night TV chatshow on a flat salary of €400,000 per year.

Along the way he's established a successful parallel radio career, as well as twice hosting The Rose of Tralee -- a kind of rites of passage, it seems, for any would-be RTE male star -- and the People in Need telethon.

He's still only 35 and he's already reached the pinnacle of his RTE television career. And therein lies the problem. What does he do after this; become the next host of The Late Late Show when Pat Kenny eventually decides to call it a day?

Jesus, the prospect of a life-sentence like that must chill him to the bones of his slim frame.

Tubridy Tonight is by any standards a slick product. It's got all the requisite trappings of a modern chatshow -- the smart, American-style set, the jokey houseband -- and, in Tubridy, a relaxed, confident, often irreverent host who's particularly good at interacting with the studio audience.

Thanks to the 'Young Fogey' image he once assiduously cultivated (and now appears to be just as assiduously trying to shed), Tubridy was for years tagged with the deadening label "the new Gay Byrne". If anything, his style is closer in spirit to Jonathan Ross or Jay Leno.

It's a shame, then, that most of the time he has to scrape by with woefully sub-standard guests. It's not Tubridy's fault, of course.

It's not as easy as it used to be for TV chatshows to bag big names, and airing the night after the Late Late, which tends to get first dibs on visiting celebs, doesn't help.

Saturday's line-up, though, was particularly feeble. Tubridy kicked off with the Brennan brothers from RTE's At Your Service.

Next up was former pop singer-turned-You're a Star Judge Michelle Heaton, a woman who, thanks to Failte Towers, is now so overexposed on Irish television she could appear naked and you wouldn't notice. (She's on again tonight, by the way, as guest co-host/victim on The Podge and Rodge Show).

Tubridy's main guest was actor Michael Fassbender, who plays Bobby Sands in the film Hunger.

Mildly entertaining, maybe, yet hardly the stuff to have you jealously hiding the remote control from the rest of the family.

The truth is that Tubridy, after five series of his chatshow, has outgrown RTE. He's the only RTE star I can envisage comfortably filling a slot on Channel 4 or the BBC.

In a recent interview he hinted that he would consider making the move to new pastures if the opportunity arose. I hope he has the nerve to go along with the chops.

Winning Streak has been given a flash new makeover. It's got a flash new name, Winning Streak: Dream Ticket; a flash new set with a big, flash staircase and lots of flashing lights, and two flash new presenters, Kathryn Thomas and Aidan Power, flashing big, flashy smiles.

Behind all that flash, though, not much has changed. The games are as clumsy and cheesy as ever, and RTE still seems to have a hang-up about giving away too much money.

To be fair, though, the contestants weren't five stiffs from the country. There was one stiff from Dublin and another from the Philippines.

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