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the big beasts

"When you go on Vincent there's always a touch of the masochist": Pat on his move to TV3

Pat Kenny speaks to about his new show (and his new TV colleague).

THERE’LL BE NO Jay Leno v Conan O’Brien style shenanigans at TV3, following Pat Kenny’s move there, the veteran Irish broadcaster is insisting.

The former RTÉ and current Newstalk host was announced as the star attraction of the commercial station’s new schedule at the National Concert Hall yesterday. He’ll team up with news anchor Colette Fitzpatrick for a mid-week show, to start some time in October.

Kenny, of course, will be joining fellow current affairs ‘big beast’ and former RTÉ colleague Vincent Browne at Ballymount.

But there’ll be no turf wars between the pair – according to Kenny at least. Speaking to in an interview after the launch event, the presenter said he expected the two shows to have different approaches.

Said Kenny: ”Victimology is something that Vincent is quite expert at, you know? The interviewee as victim.

“And everyone knows that. When you go on Vincent there’s always a touch of the masochist.

But they know that there’s also that great waggish quality about Vincent, that he can be a rottweiler one minute and then make a joke about your tie the next. He’s quite unique.

Pat Kenny and Colette Fitzpatrick pictured today a Kenny and Colette Fitzpatrick, pictured ahead of February's election debate for TV3. Brian McEvoy Brian McEvoy

There are some senior politicians who never darken the door of the Tonight with Vincent Browne studio (remember Enda Kenny’s long-running spat with the presenter?). And while it’s likely the case that those same politicians would be happier to sit down with Pat – TV3′s newest signing declined to be drawn on the issue yesterday.

“I’m not sure,” Kenny said, before deftly side-stepping into a broadcasting anecdote (he’s infuriatingly good at that, by the way).

He was, however, full of praise for recent programming decisions taken by Browne and his team – singling out last year’s gay bar-based referendum results show in particular as an example of how TV3 could respond to events in a swift, original manner.

While it was sometimes wise for Ballymount schedulers to let RTÉ cover the big State occasions like the 1916 Centenary, he said:

On other occasions, such as the Marriage Equality referendum – not alone was the right decision made to do it, but all the decisions about where to do it and how it should be done just were serendipitous. It worked brilliantly.

As for what viewers can expect from Pat and Colette’s new show?

“I know from the initial set design that we have the facility to do one-on-one deep, penetrating interviews.

“We have the facility to do a panel with four or five guests and we have an audience area. So it could be anything, any of those formats, or it could be all of them.

If you’ve got a slack week obviously you may have a number of shorter items to make the programme pacy and lively. If you have a dynamite week, where Enda Kenny resigns or something, your whole show might be about that particular item.

A precise start-date for the programme is yet to be decided, as the set details and other technical issues are sorted, Kenny said. But it will be Wednesday nights from early to mid-October, and “the countdown is on”.

An unstable world?  

The long-serving current affairs host, speaking earlier at the on-stage schedule launch, had observed that there would be no shortage of news stories to cover in the new programme.

With issues like Brexit, “the possibility of a President Trump”, and uncertainty in government to discuss, it was an ideal time to begin a new current affairs venture, he told event host Deirdre O’Kane.

Kenny, of course, has been fronting news and current affairs shows since the 1980s, covering global events alongside every aspect of Irish life – from the Troubles to the banking crisis.

pat1 RTÉ RTÉ

Given his longevity and experience in TV and radio – it occurred to us to ask: does the world seem more unstable than it used to, say … 20, 30 years ago?

“There is certainly a more unstable sense of things at the moment you know, with the attacks on France and Belgium and so on,” he responded – noting that, during the Northern Ireland Troubles in particular, “we contributed our own share, on this island, to the reporting of atrocities”.

“But the instantaneous nature of media. I mean … a boat collapses on the Ganges killing 40 people… Ten years ago we would never have heard of that, or it would have been a small 30-word story on page 13 of the Irish Times.

“Now, if there are dramatic pictures, it could be the top news item on the BBC World app.

“So… We’re hearing more of the good news and the bad news.

We’re being bombarded all the time by news – mostly bad but sometimes good, which can make people feel very uneasy. The world may not be any more disruptive and awful than it was a generation ago, but it just feels like it.

‘Surely you’re ashamed…’

It will be just a few weeks from election day in America when Kenny and Fitzpatrick’s new show debuts – so it’s unlikely they’ll be stuck for drama, on that opening Wednesday.

But if they do happen to encounter a slow week, Pat has one or two tricks up his sleeve – as demonstrated by the Vincent Browne-related RTÉ anecdote we alluded to, several paragraphs ago…

“I think Vincent is probably a student of the broadcasting school that my late colleague on RTÉ, Brian Farrell, used to talk about.

“He gave me some advice very early on on Today Tonight. I was saying ‘the running order tonight is a bit dull, isn’t it?’.

He said to me ‘look, if you have a minister on and he’s likely to be boring and the agenda is not particularly enlightening – there may be one or two issues that he has to deal with – take my advice and start with the following… your opening question should be “minister, surely you’re ashamed of yourself”‘.

vincent1 Tonight with Vincent Browne Tonight with Vincent Browne

Read: TV3 nabs Pat Kenny for current affairs show – and everything else you need to know about its new schedule >

Read: “You wonder – why are you on the street?”: Pat Kenny spent a night examining the homelessness crisis >

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