RTE spent €136,000 on D'Arcy's chat show set
RTE splashed out €136,000 on the set for the Ray D'Arcy Show, the Herald can reveal.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show the station spent €24,000 more on his set than they did on Ryan Tubridy's.
When Tubridy took over the Late Late Show as host in 2009, RTE spent €112,000 creating his studio backdrop, which is likened to a New York loft.
D'Arcy's set was designed by RTE staff member Sinead O'Hanlon, and the total cost included the set build, furniture, LED lights and all the props.
The show, which first aired on September 26, has met with a mixed reaction from viewers.
However, it appears to have performed steadily throughout its run, pulling in an average consolidated figure of 392,000 viewers.
An RTE statement last night said that the set costs "are very much in line with industry standards".
"The set will be used week after week over the show's 32-week run," it said.
"RTE would have invested a similar amount in the new Late Late Show set earlier this year, after replacing the set which had been in place for seven years."
D'Arcy announced he was jumping ship from Today FM last year after 15 years with the independent station.
As well as presenting an afternoon show on RTE Radio One, he was also thrust into the TV spotlight with his chat show offering.
The Saturday night programme has been pulling in some big names including Ireland rugby star Tommy Bowe, Nadine Coyle, Shane Filan, Caprice and movie director Jim Sheridan.
He debuted the show with an interview with Tulisa Contostavlos and comedian Tommy Tiernan, who drew more than a few laughs thanks to his irreverent humour.
D'Arcy also bagged a major coup after getting an exclusive interview with former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson.
However, this set tongues wagging for all the wrong reasons after the tone of the interview sparked 19 formal complaints to RTE.
The broadcaster also received seven calls and emails offering negative feedback on the segment.
During the 18-minute interview, which some described as cringeworthy, D'Arcy quizzed Anderson about her breast size, her sex tape with ex-husband Tommy Lee and what her teenage sons make of her sex symbol status.
He also ended the inter- view with a double entendre, saying: "It was great . . . I was going to say, having you. I should really rephrase that," he said.
When he first started his show, Ray said he was "really happy" with the set.
"I have to say it was a bit weird seeing my name in lights - no pressure then! But it's really exciting," he said.
Speaking about designing D'Arcy's set, designer O'Hanlon said there was plenty of pressure to get things right.
"One of the key challenges for any chat show set is to ensure that both the presenter and their guests feel comfortable and at ease," she said.
"Ray wanted the set to feel warm and to have an intimate feel - and, bearing that in mind, we have tried to make sure he is as close to his guests and the audience as possible."