Louis Walsh says no to judging Ireland talent show while host Grainne rejects claim that contest is for eccentrics
Music mogul Louis Walsh has snubbed an offer to judge RTE's first nationwide talent contest.
He was the natural choice for The All Ireland Talent Show, given his huge profile as Westlife's manager and his years of experience spotting talented youngsters among thousands of hopefuls.
Yet the X Factor judge has decided the programme isn't for him.
"They were very keen to get Louis on board, as he's always so entertaining, so the producers made an approach while firming up names for the new show," said a source.
"But he's so busy with the X Factor and the Boyzone reunion, he decided he didn't want to commit to it."
As revealed in the Herald this week, the new show will be hosted by Grainne Seoige and will have a €50,000 prize for the winner.
Although the final line-up of judges is being kept under wraps, it's understood a well-known celebrity will be judging each of the five areas where the heats will be held.
Among the big names mentioned as possibilities are Gerry Ryan, Blathnaid ni Chofaigh, Eamon Dunphy, Dana, and George Hook.
Grainne, who co-hosts Seoige with her sister Sile, says she can't wait to start on the show.
She also hit back at the suggestion that these kind of talent shows are low-class entertainment, given their tendency to feature eccentric contestants.
"I don't think it's car crash TV at all," she said. "What I do think is that we're an immensely talented country and we punch so far above our weight in terms of entertainment, music, dance and the arts.
"There's some extremely talented people out there who are just waiting for the chance to shine. This is going to bring them to the attention of the entire country. I think it's going to be amazing and I'm glad to be a part of it."
And she added with a laugh that she has a talent which she normally prefers to keep under wraps.
"As you saw on the Telethon last year, I do attempt singing every now and again if it's for a good cause, but I don't make a habit of it," she said.
The show is made by Tyrone, the same production team behind Seoige. Chief executive John McHugh says: "We're looking for acrobats, jugglers, dancing dogs, opera-singing grannies -- we want them all. If you think you can entertain us for two minutes, then come along."