"I'm still that naughty girl leaning up against the bar in Podge and Rodge, I'm just a mum now" Lucy Kennedy laughs down the phone. It's early morning and she's slaving away in the kitchen over a potato salad but the mum of two has time to chat about Keeping Mum, her new parenting themed reality show for RTE.
Hitting our screens on RTE 2 at 9.35pm on Monday night, Keeping Mum is the closest to an Irish Big Brother that Lucy will ever get. "We're putting two sets of parents in one house together with their children and they're both essentially watching each other, and seeing how the other person gets on and seeing what their parenting skills are like", she explains. The families then take it in turn to come and talk to Lucy each evening, while Keeping Mum about how they feel about each others' parenting skills until the very end of the show. That certainly didn't phase Lucy though. "I'm naturally nosey" she admits, "so they had me at Lucy would you mind?"
Kennedy is very enthusiastic about this project. Having just given birth to her son Jack, she hooked up with Adare Productions and worked on developing a brand new reality format that was a little bit Big Brother and a little bit Wife Swap. "It's never ever been done before on Irish television, the concept and the format, it's brand new, so it is kind of hard to explain", says Lucy. "What you can expect is Big Brother-ish as in, you'll be watching two families, in a house with their children and seeing how they interact, how they all get on. It's entertaining and interesting, it's quite hard to explain, but I'm really proud of it."
And she's right, it never really has been done before on Irish TV. The new production is the first in Ireland to feature a fully rigged (bar the toilets) Big Brother style house. "They're monitored all day so it was great fun going to work", Lucy laughs. "The house that we used was in Mount Wolesley in Carlow. Obviously that house was rigged with cameras, but the production office was right next door. On one wall we had all the screens and everything so I used to go to work and just sit and people watch, which I absolutely adore."
Describing herself as a bit of a "Davina gone wrong", Kennedy says Keeping Mum definitely has potential. "I think Monday night is a run to see what people think and then it's more than likely going to go to series and something like this could potentially be on the telly forever. It's got longevity because we'd have different families each week. Expect the unexpected."
No stranger to the unexpected, Lucy's been off our screens for just over a year and a half now. She finished up her stint on 2FM last July and since then we've seen very little of her. That may have something to do with the fact that she gave birth to her second child, Holly. "When you're off the telly for that long people just assume that you're dead. I've actually been working behind the scenes on proposals, I only finished radio in July and I was back in October so I had 14 weeks maternity leave but when you're not on the telly it's like "OH MY GOD, Lucy Kennedy's back! Lazarus has risen!" she chuckles down the line.
And Kennedy is back with a bang. After Keeping Mum there's a documentary about the story of chocolate due to air around Easter. She follows the cocoa bean from Ghana in West Africa, right the way back to the Cadbury factory in Coolock in Dublin. Then there's talk of a dating show (She's keeping mum on that for now), and we may even hear her back on the airwaves, though she's tight-lipped about that too.
Until then Kennedy's quite content with family life. She even admits that she picked up a few helpful tips while filming the new show. "We all fancy ourselves as the perfect parent but we're not. I strive to be the best mum in the world but I have my flaws, and like certain things I did notice when I was watching them on the screen like y'know, maybe I do ask Jack to clean up too quickly or maybe I need to forget about cooking and sit down and spend more time with the kids. And then there were things that I was looking at going 'Oh My God I'd never do that'. I think parents will recognize a lot of things that they like and don't like in themselves."
Monday night's Reality Bites have been generating quite the bit of chatter online, but avid Tweeter Lucy says she won't be watching the Twitter feed this week."I'll be leaving my phone in the car, because if Keeping Mum starts trending and anyone says anything mean I will cry. There's no point being cool, I'm not a cool person, I don't react very well to criticism. I'm hoping that it will take off, there's huge interest in Keeping Mum as I said because it's never been done before. Everyone will get it, I just hope that everyone will enjoy it."
Keeping Mum airs Monday February 4th on RTE 2 at 9.35pm.