Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge



I’m not supposed to talk about this, but it’s pretty juicy so what the hell? Tonight I was a guest on a screen test taping (not for broadcast) made by RTE. I’ve done this a few times before, for TV and radio – most notably when Tyrone Productions were looking for a co-host for Grainne Seoige’s afternoon thingy. The way it works is that they send a taxi around to your house and you get dropped home afterwards. It’s the presenter who is auditioning so the guests aren’t expected to do a whole lot. Easy money, in other words.

Upon arrival at Montrose though, it became apparent that this wasn’t your typical audition. In make-up, I got talking to one of the other fake guests, an economics guy from UCD whose name eludes me now. (We were supposed to be doing a panel discussion about the economic crisis, how it’s affecting ordinary people etc.) He had it on good authority that RTE were considering re-jigging one of their flagship shows (I won’t say which), maybe pitching it to a slightly younger demographic with a different style of host. He reckoned the dark horse candidate was Ray D’arcy. My money was on Craig Doyle.

The atmosphere in Studio 4 was pretty tense. Cathal Goan, the director-general of RTE, was there, as was Larry Masterson, executive producer, plus some other suits I didn’t recognise. A blonde lady thanked us for coming in and stressed that this was just something they were experimenting, that no firm decisions had been made yet blah blah blah.

As it turned out, we were both wrong. The auditionee – auditionees, in fact – were none other than 2FM’s Colm and Jim-Jim. Now, I don’t listen to the radio in the morning. But I’ve heard some pretty mixed reports about these guys. Turned out I was in for a big surprise. For a pair who’d never hosted a chat show before, Colm and Jim-Jim didn’t do a bad job at all.

The first guest was a show staffer posing as an actress promoting a film. When she said something he deemed uninteresting, Colm pulled an inflatable mallet out from under the desk and started hitting her over the head with it! He then announced that there was “one for everybody in the audience” – and proceeded to run around the studio bashing people in the head. Later he picked someone named Collette out of the audience and rolled her around the studio in a barrel.

It doesn’t sound that funny, but I have to admit I did allow myself a chuckle. And, more importantly, the suits looked to be in stitches.

In the more serious segments, meanwhile, it was Jim-Jim who came into his own. I was amazed at how sharp and erudite the guy is. When the economist bungled some statistics about the ECB and deflation in the Eurozone countries, Jim-Jim very promptly corrected him, but did so without coming across as as a know-it-all (which Pat Kenny was occasionally guilty of.) He also conducted a very moving interview with Sloof Lirpa, who is facing deportation to his home country after being convicted of the theft of a can of tartan paint from a hardware stork. It was a suspect conviction and, with insight and wit, Jim-Jim exposed several gaping holes in the prosecution’s case.

Overall, I must say I was impressed. Despite my obvious initial reservations, I came away believing that if RTE do decide to try something different with the Late Late Show, as now looks likely, they could definitely do a lot worse than handing the slot to this wacky, cerebral pair.

April 1st, 2009.


  1. Jenny Says:

    Wha? no way!

  2. Jenny Says:

    On second thoughs… d’uh, my bad!

  3. Linda Coogan Byrne Says:

    ha ha what polar opposites to Pat, that would be interesting, I was kinda hoping it would be Gerry though.

  4. Eoin Says:

    To be honest Linda, they seem pretty set on Colm and Jim-Jim.

  5. Lisa Buckley Says:

    This is an Aprils Fools joke right?

  6. WBAndersen Says:

    He doth elaborate too much.

  7. Colin Says:

    Well looks like the spider caught some flies.

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