herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Could there be a massacre at montrose as RTE ditches 'The Den' youth shows?

REVAMP: Future of famous faces hanging in the balance

RTE is to radically overhaul its young persons' TV programmes, the Herald can reveal.

Under the auspices of The Den, the broadcaster has made the decision to replace many of its long-running shows, including ICE and Kazoo, with an entirely new format.

Now the future of some of its best-known presenters including Brian Ormond, Aidan Power, Emma O'Driscoll, Rob Ross, Sinead Kennedy and Kathryn McKiernan hangs in the balance.

An insider told the Herald the "whole department is gone".

"Once it comes to the end of its run at the end of May, the whole department under the umbrella of The Den is no more, it's gone. They're bringing in some new shows but no one knows the exact formats or what's going to happen when the new schedule is announced in the autumn," she said.

"Everything's in the air and we'll just have to sit tight and see what happens, but there's a lot of speculation about what's going to happen over the summer months, no one really knows. They decided it was time for a shake-up and to change The Den's direction." However, RTE has also taken the unusual step of advising existing presenters, some of whom are freelance, that they have the choice of staying with the young persons' TV department or moving on.

It is understood that Brian Ormond, who has also presented some of its flagship shows like You're A Star, may decide to take his chances elsewhere and move to another station.

"He has really enjoyed working on ICE but they are dropping the age limit to make it even younger. He's spent years working on the show but maybe it's time for a fresh start and to try his chances elsewhere.

"He has built up a lot of TV contacts and has a lot of options so leaving the department would make sense for him. Aidan (Power) feels the same as both he and Brian are a bit older than Emma and Kathryn, who haven't worked with young persons' TV as long. It's going to be a big change for a lot of the people working on the shows."

The station appointed a new director of programmes, Steve Carson, in January 2009 and the Belfast-born TV mogul continues to make his mark on the schedule. As well as axeing Seoige due to financial constraints, a number of major changes have been made behind the scenes. The hubbie of Miriam O'Callaghan said: "We continue to refresh the schedule -- very conscious of the audience's appetite for quality."

mfinn@herald.ie

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