Friday 15 December 2017

Claire Byrne: Stray chiffon and struggles behind the curtain -- my first six weeks with Daithi on The Daily Show

ONE of the distinct differences between working in radio and working in television is that in radio, there is no legitimate reason why you should engage in physical contact with your colleagues.

Not so in TV. Here, all bets are off and any reticence about pulling and poking and positioning of microphones and earpieces must be left at the door.


I have been asked time and again since I started working in television again after a four-year break from the cameras whether the transition has been difficult.

In truth, it's like riding a bicycle -- a long time away from it can result in a shaky start, but you're soon back pedalling furiously without a care in the world.

But the other day as I struggled behind a curtain on the set of The Daily Show to get my microphone pack in place before facing the cameras, the tangible difference between the radio and TV became clear. With radio, you simply do your homework, sit behind the microphone and off you go -- but factor in the whole visual element of television and it's a whole other ball game.

Thankfully, here there are people beavering away behind the scenes whose entire focus it is to make you look good. A bad night's sleep is erased by skillful make-up artists and believe me, their wizardry knows no bounds. Clothes that refuse to obey are pinned and stitched by wily wardrobe crew, who know just what a tricky customer shifting chiffon can be on camera and that subsequent flashes of flesh will not be appreciated by daytime viewers.

It is a luxury to be so well looked after by so many people who know exactly what they are doing.

After years of radio, I had become accustomed to thinking of clothes and general appearance just as most people do, from a purely functional view. But that's simply not good enough for TV, where you enter the fray with the terrifying knowledge that you have a responsibility to present yourself in such a way as to say, 'I've gone through a deal of trouble to look this way today.'


Some people have a natural ability to always look pristine and glamorous.

For me, it takes a bit more effort -- my natural inclination is to cut corners and live by the very Irish adage, 'ah sure it'll be grand!'

Meanwhile, a coterie of special advisers is at my disposal to keep the phone lines busy with comments on how I should have had my hair and how my clothes should have looked on any particular day.

These helpful pundits are otherwise known as my sisters -- all four of them -- and some of them keep a more watchful eye than others on my performance and aren't the least bit shy about telling me what works and what doesn't. With the October bank holiday out of the way, we have hit a milestone in the young life of The Daily Show.

We are now in our sixth week and I think I can safely say that we have the hang of it.

Routines have started to develop and everyone knows where they should be and what they should be doing at any given time.

I have never known days to fly by so quickly as Daithi and I run from production meeting to studio rehearsals and back as hardworking producers and researchers ferret out details for us on today's special guest or breaking news story.

The morning seems to have barely begun but we suddenly find ourselves at the 6pm meeting with the team discussing how the day's show went.

Daithi and I spend most of the day together and while we try to stay focused and work as hard as the rest of the team, there are moments when we get distracted.


Between scenes, we had a pumpkin throw-and-catch marathon in the office the other day and many conversations have been had about food, family and the musical heroes that he has met on his travels and on other shows.

The boy can talk for Ireland, but, sure, isn't that why we love him?

We've been lucky enough to meet some great people on the show, from Pixie Lott to Germaine Greer. Our guests have been great sports and willing to go with the flow.

I did have to wear a Jedward-style wig the other day, which is a moment that I may still live to regret.

But all in all, returning to the small screen has been a joyous adventure with the promise of more fun, more surprise shenanigans and lots and lots of hairspray in the months to come.

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