As he prepares for his last ever 'Late Late Show', Pat Kenny chats to RTÉ.ie's Linda McGee about his memories of the last decade on the show.
Linda McGee: It's the day before your last show so at this point what is going through your mind? Are you feeling relieved or looking forward to the buzz of the finale?
Pat Kenny: I'm getting a huge buzz for the show. If you look around you here, you can see the wonderful set-up we have for our garden party. I'm not even thinking of the last 'Late Late Show'. This is another show that has to be done. The scripts have got to be written, rehearsals have got to be done so you think of it absolutely professionally. I think the dying moments of tomorrow night is when it'll begin to hit me but I truly believe that it won't hit me until the first Friday in September when I'm not doing the show, when I'm doing something else. Hopefully I will be watching Ryan to see how he does on his debut… but I think that's when it will hit me, when I'm not the man anymore.
LM: Do you think you'll feel a pang at that stage, watching it?
PK: Undoubtedly, there'll be a pang but I think it'll be no more than a pang because at that stage I'll be in the throes of working on my own new show for Monday nights, and probably in the middle of a crisis when someone has already pulled out of the show… there's always a crisis. So I'm looking forward to the aftermath of this, to be able to look back on ten years. I mean I was kind of worried that in the last weeks of this show that we would stop being number one or something like that, that the great record that we had had over the last while would be, in some way, besmirched but it hasn't happened. We're still right up there.
LM: Do you think you will be quite emotional tomorrow night when the final credits go up and you have to say goodbye to all of your team?
PK: I think it will be probably a couple of hours after that, when we finally wrap up, that's when it'll become emotional, because we're like a family. Every Friday night after the show, when the last guests go and the audience have gone, we tend to have a post mortem, we have a few drinks... and we really know each other well. I mean we know about each other's problems, about each other's families, so it is a bit like that. Broadcasting is a cruel business, you know, people do move on. I've loads of friends from over the years who've worked with me on other programmes, but you know, we're not as close as we were because we don't work together anymore. So I know the nature of relationships is going to change and that's going to be sad - but they are all very young and they'll all, with the exception of Larry Masterson, who is my contemporary, they will move on to other very exciting programmes and I wish them all well.
LM: I know there have been too many highlights to bring to memory but what one moment stands out for you when you think back over the ten years?
PK: Aw, too many to mention but I often think, it you can me what do I remember, and there are so many people walking into the studio – the Michael Caines, the Rod Stewarts, the Joan Collins', all of those people… Michael Bublé – I have great memories of all of those people. But if there's one thing that I don't think I ever thought I would do it was to ride into the studio on the back of an elephant, following in my father's footsteps. And I think if you were to pick one moment where I said "Wow" then that's got to be it.
LM: Because of the connections and the memories that it brought back?
PK: Because of the connections, yeah. And I rode on the back of an elephant when I was a child, and I know the smell of an elephant and I know the feel of an elephant's hair, which is like wire, and the very brutal strength of an elephant, and to feel that under you as you walk into the studio… I'll never forget that.
Ahead of his final 'Late Late Show' Pat Kenny chatted to reporters at a press conference in RTÉ. Here are some of his thoughts…
On the last ten years hosting the show:
Ten years... It's been a great ten years. I wouldn't trade any moment of it for any other. But I think the time was right for change and that's what I'm doing.
On stand-out moments:
The things that are difficult that work out, whether it's a show on paper that looks awful and works out, it just happens – maybe someone in the audience says something that changes the whole dynamic, or something like having Dr Paisley and his wife in, his was the culmination of two years work trying to make that happen on 'The Late Late Show', to get the good doctor down from Belfast… it's those kinds of individual moments. Then there are things you do, you know you tear up a pair of tickets for the Toy Show, and it turns out to be one of the most memorable moments of the year. It's a kaleidoscope of memories… Meeting Paul Newman was one of my great ambitions and, strangely enough… meeting Jack Nicklaus a couple of weeks ago, that's like meeting God! That was a thrill. The extraordinary thing is, the bigger the guests were, the nicer they tended to be.
On his successor Ryan Tubridy:
The advice I have for Ryan is to enjoy it. I enjoyed every single show... I wouldn't dare tell Ryan not to do anything because he brings a particular skill set to the programme. I think it will evolve differently under him, as it evolved differently for me compared to Gay Byrne.
On announcing that he was leaving:
I had a very difficult evening when I announced it. I had to tell my crew that I was standing down from 'The Late Late Show' and that was extremely difficult. I did it about 45 minutes before we went to air on that Friday night and to say there were tears all round is not to understate the way people felt. I mean these people - my research team, my production team - these are my friends.
On his family:
Initially the kids were a bit disappointed... not a bit, a lot - because, I didn't realise it, they only told me afterwards that I had the coolest job of any dad in their school. They don't tell you that until it's too late. But I think, on balance, being able to be around a lot on weekends, before they're too old to want dad around at all... and maybe to get away for a weekend with Kathy. We haven't done between September and June for 21 years and that's a big sacrifice she made.