There are many faces to Brendan O’Connor and not just on our front cover. He’s a journalist, TV personality and a family man so it can sometimes be a case of, will the real Brendan please stand-up? There’s the image of him as a bit (OK a lot) of a loudmouth, always looking for the opportunity to offend someone – he says this is “pretty fair.”
There’s also a lot of laughs during a conversation with Brendan; he’s certainly entertaining, witty, quick and no one is safe, not even the recently robbed Kim K.
“All this defending of Kim Kardashian and ‘poor her’ and it’s hard to be a female celebrity these days. I mean poor her – this is a woman who goes around wearing hardly any clothes, all the time taking pictures of herself, and we’re supposed to respect that. Are we gone that far that we can’t even take the p*ss out of Kim and Kanye? I thought that was the point of them.”
I quickly remark on his weight-loss. There’s definitely less of him since the last time I saw him. He wrote about struggling with his weight in his Sunday Independent column at the start of the summer, so was his new slim-line figure a challenge?
“I did lose a lot of weight, it was over about four or five years and when I look back I was very over-weight. It wasn’t really dieting, I probably just adapted a healthier lifestyle, I went from no exercise to a little exercise and not bingeing as much as I used to. I’ll be honest with you: I know we’re all supposed to accept our bodies and all that and I’m not fatshaming, but losing weight completely changed my life in terms of feeling healthier, better and being able to have a choice in the clothes you buy – so I’d recommend it to anyone.”
Brendan, who was at the helm of RTÉ’s Saturday Night Show for five years, seemed an unlikely chatshow host but he soon hit his stride in a difficult time slot. In his last year in the chair, he reached viewing figures of over 500,000 and even topped The Late Late Show.
Did he ever think of cutting ties with RTÉ after being dropped from the Saturday night slot? “Well I did”, he says, before quickly adding, “but when the Saturday Night Show ended we made the plan for a Wednesday night show.”
“Look, people expect me to feel hard done by and bitter, but I’m really not. Obviously, there are moments when you’re a little bit angry but you’ve got to be incredibly grateful to be given the opportunities that I have and I genuinely mean that. People would kill for these jobs, you can’t be going around whinging. And to be honest with you, Saturday night, it’s a bit of a thankless gig. You’re there in the shadow of The Late Late and you have to make something of it.”
He says that he likes a bit of competition, whether between him and Ryan Tubridy or now, in his new slot, against Pat Kenny Tonight on TV3. You can read all about this and more in the full interview in this week's RTÉ Guide!