The dilemma that made Pat quit the Late Late Show
Pat Kenny was made an offer he couldn't refuse. The Late Late Show host took the offer of a new job at RTE because if he didn't, station bosses could give him no guarantee as to what might be available when his Late Late contract expired.
The broadcaster decided to quit prematurely because bosses would not guarantee him a prestigious current affairs programme, unless he resigned at the end of the season.
Speaking immediately after he announced the decision live on the Late Late Show on Friday, Kenny said he “probably would have done one more year”.
But the chat show host — who had 18 months left to run of his two-year contract — revealed he made the decision to step down when RTE bosses came to him with a new job proposition, but could not guarantee how long it would remain on the table.
This forced the top presenter to make his announcement — less than three weeks after he told the Sunday Independent in an exclusive interview that he had every intention of presenting The Late Late Show “for years to come”.
But on Friday night, he said: “I was offered a new show, a new challenge and that might not be offered to me next year.”
The move is the first major shake-up to take place at RTE since Steve Carson — who is married to presenter Miriam |O'Callaghan — took over as head of television. The latest development comes just months after Kenny was involved in a stand-off with RTE bosses over the duration of his current contract.
It was reported that Kenny, who turned 61 in January, was holding out for a three-year contract, while RTE wanted the new agreement to run for just 12 months. In the end, sources say both sides settled on a two-year contract.
In an interview on March 5, when asked when he would call it a day, Kenny said: “I don't want to go down the road anymore of predicting who's going to be doing what and when. It is my intention to present the Late Late Show for years to come. As long as I'm enjoying it, I want to keep doing it.”
He added he would only “call it a day when I dread coming back”.
Speaking on the night, Kenny stressed the RTE pay cuts “had absolutely nothing got to do with [his] decision”, but said that he no longer wanted to devote his weekends to his job.
“It will be a weekly show. But it won't be on Friday night or Saturday or Sunday night, that's for sure; I want to have my weekends off. Kathy and I — between Kenny Live for 10 or 11 years and The Late Late Show for 10 or 11 years — have never had a weekend off from September to June in 21 years, so I'm certainly looking forward to that,” he smiled.
Asked about possible replacements, Kenny said: “I would not like to speculate. There is a list of runners of no more than half a dozen and they are all pals of mine.”
Among the front runners are Ryan Tubridy, Gerry Ryan, Miriam O’Callaghan, Blathnaid ni Chofaigh and Ray D'Arcy.
Kenny's new show, scheduled to be broadcast on Monday nights as a replacement for Questions and Answers, is designed to be at the cutting-edge of political debate.