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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Radio review: No mistaking Ray's style

Ray D'Arcy at RTE yesterday
Ray D'Arcy at RTE yesterday

I don’t know why the soup is €1.02! I don’t know why it’s RTE! But I’m here.”

And he was here, or there rather. Ray D’Arcy that is. Finally back, and finally in and on RTE after “14-and-a-half” long years away. Confused about soup, admittedly, but back all the same.

“Big deal,” says you (let’s pretend). “Tell us more about this surprisingly-priced soup!” Grand so, I will. I’ll tell you lots more. Just like Ray told us lots and lots (and lots) more. About soup.

First, we just need to rewind to Monday afternoon, and the very beginning of Ray’s new beginning. Just hang on a sec and let me find the right knob to push or twiddle. This one? No. That one? Plays jingles. That one way over there? Activates the self-destruct mechanism, I think. Ah, here we are. And here’s D’Arcy.

“Ah, it works.”

Yup. Those were actually the very first words uttered on The Ray D’Arcy Show 2.0. A wearily-sighed “Ah, it works”.

“How’re ye doing?” D’Arcy then asked us (slightly more cheerily), before following up with a surprised “Oh!” and an exasperated “I’m hearing myself back in something there” and a resigned “That’s to be expected”.

After some fumbly knob-adjusting and a mumbled “Turn that down...turn that down,” the returning hero finally got round to greeting listeners, new and old. “Anyway ... good afternoon,” he groaned, with all the (apparent) enthusiasm of an apathetic funeral director.

As openings to much-ballyhooed

new shows go, it may have seemed hilariously low-key and/or symbolic,

but this was classic D’Arcy.

No messing about with the kind of polished/professional bonhomie some Radio 1 devotees might have been expecting. Nope, just straight in with the trademark crankiness, the exasperated sighing, and all that techno-baffled and button-bewildered “Stop, stop, eject” business.

The ‘charm’ of that ramshackle shtick may soon wear thin (if it hasn’t already), but it was tough not to feel some grudging admiration for so perverse a start.

“What’s all this got to do with soup?” asks you (let’s pretend, again). Well, I’m getting to that, or, rather Ray was.

But not before telling us how odd it had felt arriving back, as it were, “to the old school,” and how “self-conscious” he’d been, and how he’d snuck in through the “goods inward gate” to avoid being love-bombed by well-wishers, or whatever.

 But there would be no escape. Larry Gogan had greeted him “with his lovely warm face,” Dave Fanning had offered to buy him a coffee, and Joe Duffy had given him “a free RTE guide.” No place like home, eh?

RTE HQ still felt different, he said, “like a campus”. A campus with a cafeteria. A cafeteria wherein they serve soup (we got there in the end). No ordinary soup either, but soup that is (gasp!) €1.02.

“Why is it €1.02?” D’Arcy asked.

The Ray D'Arcy Show, RTE Radio 1, Weekdays

 “I don’t bloody care!” I answered.

Not that it stopped him. He was on a (bread) roll. “I asked lovely Margaret up there,” he explained. “She’s from Poland. I said, ‘Why €1.02?’” And poor old Margaret’s alleged answer? “Dunno. Ring the office”.

D’Arcy, you may be alarmed to discover, hasn’t “got round to ringing the office” yet. But he still sounded like a man determined to give the case his full attention once time permits. Phew.

I mean, I know he’s busy and all, but once you start letting things like investigations into slightly curious soup-pricing slide, then it’s only a matter of time before all else goes to hell in a handbasket. Stay focused, Ray.

What else? Well, there was lots more about the ‘fascinating’ world of coin-minting, and lots more about the circulation of one and two cent pieces, and a fair bit more fumbling about with buttons.

Then on came Uncle Gaybo (to talk Stephen Fry and atheism), and on came Paul Howard (to talk Ross O’Carroll-Kelly and the majesty of Roy Orbison’s voice), and on came Conor Pope (to talk “consumer gripes,” chocolate chip cookies, and, yes, RTE’s bargain soup).

“I’m delighted to hear all these little mistakes creeping in,” joked Pope, referring, as the sharper among you may have guessed, to how there were all these little mistakes creeping in.

“It’s like the good old days, Ray,” he added.  And it was. Very much like the good old days. Or, simply, the old days if you’d never thought of them as all that good.

Same old, same old, then. Now where’s that bloody ‘Stop’ button. Got it.

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