Lamha aloft if watching the Late Late Show on Friday night instilled more than a tinge of embarrassment *flings both arms upwards*. My disregard for Pat Kenny as an "entertainment" talk show host has been well documented, and I'm not a fan of Pete Doherty, so watching Friday's interview was never going to be a wildly enjoyable experience, yet I still found myself unprepared for what unfolded.
OK, so it's hard to ignore the Libertines. It was talent that brought Doherty to the limelight and, sadly, his resulting lifestyle which kept him there (we love a freak show, we do). It wasn't long before he just became known for being a reprobate, but an interview with Jonathan Ross changed that in my eyes. Doherty came across as an articulate individual, who's weirdly witty and surprisingly charming in spite of pickling himself to the point of resembling a constantly startled gherkin.
Point being, Ross had the ability to coax out this person, otherwise lost in a husk. He asked gently probing questions and he listened to the answers. Kenny, on Friday, hurled a barrage of statements until Doherty, squirming at being compared to Shane McGowan, said: "That's 12 questions you've asked me now about drugs and alcohol, it’s not the be all and end all." This gave Kenny his grand opportunity to bring up… Kate Moss. Doherty replied: "Well that's just like the drugs, isn't it." He then asked if he could play a song and, quite rightly, said: "Where do I get the money from... Joke." The Plank responded, not at all patronisingly, "We'll get someone to write you a cheque." I sat petrified for a few moments before pouncing on the remote, while the brain imploded with obvious questions.
WHY was Pete Doherty asked on the show if he was only going to be met with antiquated disdain? Because he happened to be in Dublin to speak to Trinity's Philosophical Society and some misguided RTE booker thought it'd make great viewing? Is it not an interviewer's job to bring out a different side of the interviewee so that the viewers may learn something new? It is indeed, but Kenny is a product of our national broadcaster's shoehorning phenomenon - lots of square pegs in spherical orifices.
Pat Kenny came to our attention due to his talent for political mediation. Then, through his ability to ask a question, the powers that be thought he could become something he's not... personable. He is unable to read people. It would've been painfully obvious to a disembodied torso that that line of lazy, aggressive questioning displayed on Friday night would only lead to rampant discomfort, no new information and thus a painfully redundant interview. Yet Pat ploughed on regardless, mumbling on about his guest's "severed" relationship with his father.
Lord, the only person more clinical and less compassionate than Pat Kenny is his cohort Miriam O'Callaghan (another fine product of shoehorning). Miriam excels on Prime Time. Then it's time for her summer holidays filler chat show, where she blurts such beauties as, "So, your wife, who's dead I think..." at a momentarily shattered looking Larry Gogan. Yes, Miriam, the women who Larry held at night and shared his dreams with is now cold and decaying in the ground. At the very least, could she have not said: "Who's passed on, I believe... how are you coping with your loss, Larry?" It would be glib of me not to make reference to the pressures of live presenting and how panic inducing it must be. Inaproriate words can tumble out in an instant never to be taken back, but shouldn't TV stalwarts such as Kenny and O'Callaghan have enough experience on their side to avoid such situations?
This brings another question with a suitably downbeat answer. Why have we planks presenting our equivalent to Parkinson, Letterman, Leno, and Friday Night With…? Because all our talent have fled to other shores for shows with higher production values. Wogan, Norton, Linehan, Matthews, Moran, O’Briain... All gone. We're left with a puddle of mediocrity and guest slots filled by Fair City actors with a few minutes to spare.
So, in the spirit of being Irish, we'll make do with what we have. But, given the slew of ad breaks, you know, despite the hefty license fee, wouldn't it be nice if we were afforded the luxury of a spot of reshuffling? Daithi O'Shea could present the Late Late... *stares wistfully into the distance* Katherine Lynch will have her own chat show under one of her guises so she can ask outrageous questions of Mrs Merton proportions; Lucy Kennedy will replace Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh on The Afternoon Show; Baz Ashmawy will be left alone to hone his presenting skills (he can co-present the travel show with Kathryn Thomas in the interim); Tubridy, you're doing a grand job for the moment but, tell me, how would you feel about yourself and Caroline Morahan overseeing an annual, mandatory nationwide search for fresh comedic/presenting talent?