Belfast Telegraph

Kenny returns to screens with UTV

Broadcaster Pat Kenny is to make his television comeback on the republic's new station UTV Ireland next year.

In what will be seen as a major coup for the fledgling channel, the ex-RTE veteran will front a peak-time show, the details of which have yet to be finalised.

It is the second surprise move in as many years by the former Late Late Show host who caused a sensation when he left his Radio One slot last year for commercial rival Newstalk.

He had been more than 40 years with the national broadcaster, which said it could not match the offer made to him by billionaire media mogul Denis O'Brien's much smaller radio station.

"It is early days in terms of the details of the output but I'm energised by the team at UTV Ireland and the prospect of working with talented young people, allied to some very experienced and wise colleagues," said Mr Kenny, at the launch of UTV Ireland's programme line-up.

"The plan is to be on air in the early part of 2015 and we've had a few good exchanges about how we can produce an entertaining, enticing proposition that is compelling for viewers.

"During the next few months we'll take what is effectively a blank canvas with some initial strands and shape it to create the best television possible."

Mr Kenny said his prime time slot on the republic's new commercial station was "new territory", adding: "Another leap, so to speak."

Late last year, UTV shocked the media industry with its plans to set up a separate channel south of the border.

Station chiefs have vowed to go head-to-head with State-owned RTE and commercial station TV3 in a battle for Irish television viewers with the new station based in the Dublin Docklands.

The move was made possible by a deal with British TV giant ITV for exclusive rights to popular soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale, according to John McCann, group chief executive of parent company UTV Media.

"Pat is one of the most respected and experienced presenters in Ireland," said Mr McCann.

"His style of interviewing is unique, insightful and often challenging."

Launching its schedule, UTV Ireland said a 30-minute daily news round-up called Ireland Live will be broadcast every weekday evening.

Ireland Live at 10 will be a one-hour news and current affairs programme, including debate and analysis.

Other homegrown content includes Lesser Spotted Journeys, a take on the popular Lesser Spotted Ulster series presented by Joe Mahon as he travels around the country.

Rare Breed, about 22 Irish farming families, is currently being filmed, while Paul and Nick - A Scotsman and an Irishman is a cookery show.

Big audience formats imported from Britain will include The Graham Norton Show, Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and The Jonathan Ross Show.

"A huge amount of work has been going on behind the scenes - not only in Dublin but all across the country," said Mr McCann.

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