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Pat Kenny

Pat Kenny is the presenter of Ireland's Late Late Show, the world's longest running chat show, which is broadcast on Radio Telifís Éireann.

Kenny, a qualified engineer, began his broadcasting career by working as a Continuity Announcer (who announced the start and end of programmes) on RTÉ radio in the mid 1970s. An early faux pas became legendary. RTÉ was broadcasting solemn music following the death of former president and Easter Rising leader Eamon de Valera. Kenny as the CA at the end of a piece of Irish folk music by Planxty[?] read out the name of the piece without checking. It turned out to be called 'the ol' divil is dead'.

Kenny became a TV broadcaster when he became one of the presenters of RTÉ's award-winning thrice-weekly Today Tonight current affairs programme in the mid 1980s. He was also given a talk show which was however not a success and which only ran for one series. He moved in an expected direction when he was made co-presenter of the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest. He subsequently was given a guest presenting slot on weekly chat show Saturday Live. After a successful broadcast, when it was decided to give the job of hosting the show to one person permanently, the person chosen was Kenny, with the show being renamed Kenny Live.

This began an intense and bitter rivalry between the Saturday-broadcast Kenny Live and the the Friday-broadcast Late Late Show. (The Late Late had moved from Saturday to Friday at the request of then presenter Gay Byrne. Saturday Live had been conceived as a means of filling the empty space on Saturday nights and so prevent a loss of viewers to the BBC and ITV, both of which are received in the Republic of Ireland.) Through Byrne, one of the world's most experienced chat show hosts, and Kenny, publicly proclaimed their respect for each other and the fact that their shows were targeted at different markets, a bitter rivalry existed between the production crews on both shows.

When Byrne in 1999 retired from presenting the Late Late, it was speculated that RTÉ might axe the show entirely. However to some criticism, they offered the Late Late Show (which was seen as too powerful a franchise to lose) to Kenny, who offically "put Kenny Live on hold" for a while. Many critics suggested that Kenny's personality would be illsuited for the Late Late.

Kenny's tenure at the Late Late has not been seen as a success. While the show still receives mass audiences, it has lost one third of its viewership since Byrne's departure. A "revamp" of the show (which saw its distinctive signature tune and visual style dropped for one preferred by Kenny) was seen as having lost the show much of its character. While Byrne as a presenter was someone who was at heart a theatrical figure who could bring humour and informality to the show while still handling major serious discussions well, Kenny as a longtime journalist, though able to handle 'heavy issues' is seen as 'wooden' and 'trying too much' when he moves to lighter topics, often being described as being wooden in front of the cameras, in contrast to his superb mastery of radio-broadcasting with his acclaimed Today with Pat Kenny on RTÉ Radio 1. In May 2003 a major revamp of the show was ordered by RTÉ management worried at its continued loss of viewers and the imminent arrival of a rival TV chat show under controversial broadcaster Eamon Dunphy[?] on the rival Irish TV3[?] channel.

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