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Thursday 14 December 2017

Current affairs was a natural fit for heavyweight

Pat and wife Kathy. Photo: Collins Photos
Pat and wife Kathy. Photo: Collins Photos

PAT Kenny has been one of RTE's heavyweight presenters since the 1980s.

During his four decades at the station, he moved from hosting the flagship current affairs show Today Tonight to eventually succeeding Gay Byrne on The Late Late Show.

His transition to light entertainment was initially criticised.

Compared to Gaybo, the ultimate chatshow host, Kenny at first appeared wooden and ill at ease.

Lecturer

He also earned a reputation for putting his foot in it, most famously with British comedian Dawn French.

While hosting a fashion show in 1997, Kenny attempted some light humour.

"Dawn," he said to the rotund star, "most models say they don't get out of bed for less than £10,000.

"I'm sure some people would pay that for you to stay in bed."

French looked far from impressed.

But as the years passed, Kenny noticeably improved.

He has been broadcasting for RTE since the early 1970s, beginning as a continuity announcer. At the time, he was still working as an engineering lecturer at Bolton Street College of Technology.

Apart from his RTE Radio 1 show, Kenny (65) has hosted Today Tonight, the chatshow Kenny Live, The Late Late Show, The Frontline and Prime Time.

He even presented the 1988 Eurovision song contest, alongside Michelle Rocca in the RDS.

Dalkey resident Pat married wife Kathy in Paris in 1992 and the couple have two children.

His move into light entertainment began in earnest in 1988, when he started hosting the Saturday night chatshow Kenny Live, doing an 11-year stint on the programme.

When Gaybo stepped down from the Late Late in 1999, Pat was the obvious successor.

In 2009, he announced he was leaving the world's longest-running chatshow.

Kenny then returned to what many feel is his natural home on television – current affairs.

He began presenting The Frontline every Monday on RTE 1 from September 2009.

In one memorable moment, Kenny became angered by a comment from Jack O'Connor.

During an interview, the SIPTU general secretary suggested extra tax should be applied to trophy houses.

When asked to define what he meant by a trophy house, O'Connor said: "A house like yours, probably."

Kenny erupted: "I built my house in 1988. How is it a 'trophy house'? I don't want this crap coming at me."

In the Tweetgate controversy during the 2011 presidential election, Pat unwittingly read out a bogus tweet as coming from Sinn Fein.

Candidate Sean Gallagher claims this tweet cost him the election and has mounted a legal action against RTE.

Kenny was named earlier this year as one of three presenters for the newly revamped Prime Time, with Miriam O'Callaghan and Claire Byrne.

In his time on the Late Late, Kenny had to deal with an on-air incursion.

In November 2006, one Paul Stokes confronted Kenny live on the show, calling him and predecessor Gay Byrne "insufferable a***holes".

READ EAMON CARR, P17

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