| 10.6°C Dublin

GERRY RYAN'S LAST INTERVIEW: 'I couldn't handle the idea that people thought I was an imbecile'

TRAGIC broadcaster Gerry Ryan said that programmes he did at the start of his RTE career were "worse than porn" in the last interview he gave before he died.

The late TV star, who was filmed by TV3 months before his death, also claimed that he owed his professional credibility to the Eurovision, which led him on the path to bigger and better shows.

Gerry (53) opened up about his 31-year career for That's Entertainment.

In Gerry Ryan: The Last Interview, which is to be aired next week on the independent station, the father-of-five admitted that his colleagues were "ashamed" of working for the state broadcaster because Gerry's shows were so "s***".

"I would be on campus and people would come up and say, 'I'm ashamed to say I work in RTE because of that programme -- it's disgusting'," he said.

"And you go, 'Right well, that's what my own guys think of me.' I took that personally. I couldn't understand why people didn't get what I was doing.

"It was very difficult. Week in, week out being described as 's***' is eventually going to get to you.

"I couldn't handle the idea that the press thought I was an imbecile. The more programmes I got, the more evidence there was of my imbecility.

"I considered myself as a borderline artist -- a sort of rock intellect."

He explained that his wife Morah had even tried to protect him from the scathing criticism by cutting negative reviews from newspapers and hiding them away.

"My problem in the early days was if people came up and said, 'We want you to do the Angelus next and a porn movie on Sunday', I'd have said 'yeah'," he recalled in the interview that was filmed in a room of the Four Seasons Hotel.



credibility

"And that's kind of what I did. In fact if you look back at some of the things I did at the time it was worse than porn."

Gerry said he only became believable as a broadcaster when he was asked to present the Eurovision with Cynthia Ni Mhurchu in 1994.

"That made a difference to me. That was a toe into the world of credibility," he stated, adding that he did not think presenting the Rose of Tralee would have added much to his career.

When offered the Rose TV gig, he turned it down, saying that he would "rather have my legs sawn off".

"I think they saw me as some cheeky upstart who had been given another chance . . . but it was the right thing to do," he added.

The celebrity revealed that he had always wanted to be in the interviewer's seat and that he found his feet in Ryan Confidential, despite a controversial episode with football star Paul McGrath who was battling alcoholism.

"You could tell Paul wasn't well," he said. "I look back on that and I say 'Was it morally right to do? And I'm closer to thinking 'Maybe not'," he said.

"I spoke to Paul afterwards and I think he did feel damaged by it and I have to live with that."

Gerry's career highlight came as he was asked to replace Pat Kenny on the Late Late Show.

"I decided I would do it kind of a way I did the radio programme and kind of the way Gay did it. I really loved doing it. It was fantastic."

hnews@herald.ie