Gerry RyanThursday 16 October 2008 10.15pm
Watch a web exclusive clip of this interview...
Tonight’s edition of Ryan Confidential is a very special one – because the Ryan conducting the intimate interview is Ryan Tubridy, and his guest is Gerry Ryan. The publication of Gerry’s first book is the occasion for Mr. Tubridy to question Mr. Ryan about both his private and professional life. “When we first approached Ryan”, says Gerry, “he made it clear that he only wanted to do the interview if there were no questions that would be considered off-limits. I told him it was his job to ask whatever he wanted – and it was then up to me to choose how to answer him.”
In fact, there was one other condition on which Ryan Tubridy insisted. “Normally, the guest on Ryan Confidential is taken to a restaurant of my choosing”, says Gerry, “and I tend to favour those that serve haute cuisine. However, young Tubridy was having none of that. For the first time in six series, the interview was filmed in an American-style diner – and I have to admit I enjoyed my burger and French fries.”
In this interview, Gerry talks candidly about his career in Irish broadcasting – which has seen its fair share of ups and downs. He recognises that critical reaction to his work has often been far from positive, and acknowledges that much of the criticism has been fair. “Usually, the critic has some reasonable point to make – and, usually, I can come around to accepting that. What I don’t like is when the criticism of my work turns into criticism of me as a person – and, usually, this happens when the critic has confused my persona as a public performer with my real character. That can be hurtful and demoralising. However, I also recognise that this type of criticism comes with the turf, and, if I got upset too easily, then I would be working in the wrong job.”
Both of Gerry’s parents are now dead – and he was very close to both of them in different ways. “My Dad came from a Presbyterian background. In emotional terms, he was quite reserved – but utterly dependable and supportive as a father. My mother came from a theatrical background – with a strong sense of the dramatic. I like to think that I inherited characteristics from both of them.” After working in RTE for over 25 years, Gerry has come to place a very high value on the loyalty of those with whom he works. “Loyalty to me is one of the greatest human qualities – and I mean at both professional and personal levels. I need to feel that my colleagues and friends are completely loyal to me – and, of course, they need to feel the same about me in return. None of us measures up to the mark all the time, but I feel that is what we should be aiming for.”
Gerry believes that he has helped to push the envelope of broadcasting a little over the years. “I wouldn’t exaggerate it. The fact is I don’t have any real power. I may express my views forcefully about this or that issue – but, as far as I’m concerned, the listeners can take or leave them. The last thing I would want to be is to be considered bland. I would usually prefer to provoke a reaction – even if, sometimes, it is a negative one. At the same time, I don’t think that I provoke entirely for its own sake – usually, I am genuinely interested in getting a debate under way. Sometimes to get that going, I become the Devil’s Advocate and, obviously, sometimes, people don’t realise that is a broadcasting technique – and doesn’t necessarily reflect my real opinion.”