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Ray D'Arcy on Pam Anderson, 'Jack Nicholson' and the trouble with Irish celebrities

Ray’s team focused on ‘getting the basics right’ last year – so what can we expect from the next series of his chat show?
Sep 22nd 2016, 7:00 PM 23,342 55

RAY D’ARCY DOESN’T do all that many interviews. “I suppose when I’ve nothing to say it doesn’t warrant an interview,” the broadcaster said, as we began our conversation this week. “So I’ll come out when I’ve something to say.”

The host was visiting TheJournal.ie‘s offices to promote the second series of his Saturday night chat show, which kicks off this weekend.

More on that shortly – but while we had him in the room, we also took the opportunity to (lightly) grill the presenter about the times he and his show have landed in the headlines, or kicked off one of those increasingly frequent ‘Twitter storms’ over the last 12 months.

There was the time he observed to guest Pamela Anderson “there you are on your knees in front of the Prince of Montenegro” as a photo of the actress receiving a knighthood was shown. He made a few other clunky references to her sex symbol status in the course of that interview, too – prompting 23 people to lodge complaints with RTÉ.

“We live in a world where people get indignant on other people’s behalf,” D’Arcy responded, when asked if he’d approach the interview differently today, given the chance.

“She enjoyed it, she stayed around for around ten minutes afterwards taking photographs and doing selfies and all of that.

It was never my intention to offend anybody and I think, what, 25 people were offended enough to pick up the phone and call RTÉ. I sort of knew at the time that I’d probably just gone a little bit too far – but these things happen.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Slightly less controversially (this one’s more in the realm of mortifying than scandalous) there was the time D’Arcy introduced a very special guest one night last October, only for the segment to come crashing off the rails within a few seconds.

Remember this?

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That’s how the audience reacted when D’Arcy told them Jack Nicholson was about to walk out on stage.

Here’s how that same audience looked moments later, when they realised it wasn’t, in fact, one of the greatest screen actors of our age – but a lookalike, named Norman…

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Said D’Arcy:

The reason I’m smiling about the Jack Nicholson thing [see video below for evidence of said smile] is that… That anybody would think that a chat show in Ireland like, four or five weeks into its first run, would get Jack Nicholson, I think that’s hilariously funny.

Then again…

When they stood up and gave him a standing ovation I thought maybe this isn’t… this is funny for me, but maybe not for some people.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Between his early career as a children’s presenter, his time at Today FM, and his radio and TV shows at RTÉ since the start of last year, D’Arcy’s been interviewing people for almost three decades at this stage.

Famous names regularly crop up on his shows these days – but D’Arcy said it was the people who don’t seek the limelight, but who instead have extraordinary stories to tell, who have had the greatest impact on him.

Asked if there was a particular guest he still thinks about, he brought up the story of Jonny Kennedy, whose life and death was filmed in stark detail for the Channel 4 documentary The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off. Jonny suffered from EB – a terrible disease that means the skin falls off, even at the slightest touch.

“You have to – everyday, you have to have your bandages changed, you develop blisters, your fingers fuse. It was this heartbreaking but life affirming documentary.

We interviewed his mother after he died and she was an amazing woman because she, for 21 years – I think it was 21 – she had to get up every morning and witness her son go through horrific pain as she changed his bandages. And it just made me think about life and worrying about the little stuff, sweating the little stuff – she was just an amazing woman.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

The TV show will be back on air on Saturday night – so what can viewers expect, heading into the second series? What’s changed from last year?

Said D’Arcy:

It was the first season so it was a learning process for me. Although I’d done a lot of television I’d never done a chat show before – so you think you know what it is, and then you start to do it and it’s something different.

He repeatedly told the team “Let’s get the basics right” during the last series.

Now that we’ve had a break and we’ve assimilated all we learned from the first year we can build on that, and that’s what we hope to do.

Once again, he says, there’ll be famous faces cropping up. But the trouble with trying to fill a show with star names is that our small nation just doesn’t have enough of them to go around.

“The thing is we’re a small island on the western extreme of Europe, we don’t have a lot of ‘celebrities’ as such. We’ve probably, what? – Bono, Gay Byrne, Colin Farrell maybe… maybe Hozier. So what you have to do is cut your cloth to suit your measure.

So there’s a bit of that, there’s a bit of that – we don’t have celebrities on tap. The other thing is that I think Irish people love hearing themselves talk to each other. We just love it. We love hearing other people’s stories – we love hearing Irish stories in particular. So oftentimes I would think that what you would call an ‘ordinary person’, somebody from down the road who has a good story will get more viewers and more interest than some star from Eastenders flying in and saying ‘I love you Irish, I love your Guinness’.

The Ray D’Arcy Show airs this Saturday on RTÉ One at 9.40pm. The show’s looking for good news stories from viewers this year – if you’ve something happening in your life that you want to share with the nation email goodnewsray@rte.ie 

Read: We asked Ray D’Arcy about criticism of his Eighth Amendment coverage >

Read: Ray D’Arcy reunites man with his late wife’s bracelet that went missing in the 1970s >

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Daragh Brophy

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