Patrick Kielty on The Late Late Show. A northern invasion?
First of all how lucky are RTE to have landed Patrick Kielty in this chair. He arrived out of comedy clubs in Belfast to host his own brilliant show on UTV. After going away and making it in the wider world, and marrying Cat Deeley besides, he made his way back around home to anchor some of the most poignant and helpful documentaries about The Troubles.
The Late Late Show has been recognised over seventy years as a societal changer. Gay Byrne and the guests he brought on and the questions he asked also interrogated the direction of the country and opened, what might have been seen as a very insular Catholic country, up to many other influences.
Patrick has already talked about how he’ll bring a more northern slant to the show. He will I also believe bring more northern viewers to the show. That will open a Protestant Northern Irish audience up to what is happening across the border, in many ways a very different culture. In music, politics, sport and celebrity, even Toys, things are different and done differently in the Republic.
I am also sure that Kielty will have northern guests to introduce to the southerner. Kietly sees himself in the middle of what I have called a venn diagram between the Republic Of Ireland and the UK. He recognises that, showing a social intelligence about the realities going on a round him. He’ll very naturally therefore bring all sides of the island into one TV studio.
The interview on the first night with Mary McAleese might tell us where Kielty’s prophetic direction might take us, whether he has consciously considered it or not.
When asked about Border Polls Mary, the former President, shied away from declaring a united Ireland as imminent or not. In a more measured and sensible approach she spoke of creating better relationships across the island and with the United Kingdom. Relationships that she very much modelled. Remember Queen Elizabeth’s visit while Mary was President.
I reckon that simply by his charm, grace for every aspect of the island’s people, history and present Kietly will be about that healing. Who remembers him at that Bonfire with young Joel Keys in the documentary Patrick Kielty: One Hundred Years of Union. In that same programme as he stood on Shelling Hill Beach with Bronagh McConville whose mother Jean went missing in 1972; both emotional from loss of a parent.
Kietly brings an intelligence to this traditional Irish Friday night, it is an intelligence that is social, cultural, political and emotional. I look forward to seeing how The Late Late Show in his compassionate care can lead us forward across a divided island.
I imagine it will be a lot of fun too.