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Ms O’Callaghan (63) said today that while The Late Late Show is the “jewel in the crown of Irish broadcasting”, she loves Prime Time “too much” to leave it.
Miriam O’Callaghan has pulled out of the running to be the next host of The Late Late Show.
The Prime Time presenter was one of the bookie’s favourites to replace Ryan Tubridy who is giving up the role after 14 years.
But Ms O’Callaghan (63) said today that while The Late Late Show is the “jewel in the crown of Irish broadcasting”, she loves Prime Time “too much” to leave it.
"Interestingly, last night I found the letter I wrote 14 years ago, the last time the role of presenter of The Late Late Show was up for grabs. In it I told management that I was withdrawing my name from the ring on that occasion too, saying I no longer wanted to be considered for the job if I had to leave Prime Time, and the position – fourteen years on – remains exactly the same.”
In her statement, Ms O’Callaghan said: “Although the speculation about me being one of the favourites to take over the Late Late Show is very flattering, that won’t be happening as I’m not throwing my hat in to the ring to be considered.
She added that what her team in current affairs is doing “really matters, and can actually change lives”.
“It’s what I love doing most of all as a broadcast journalist, and I’m not prepared to give that up for any show.
Her decision will now leave Claire Byrne as the frontrunner for the biggest job in Irish television.
Other names circulating in RTÉ including Tommy Tiernan and Brendan O’Connor.
O’Callghan had been tipped to become The Late Late Show’s first female host back in 2009 when Pat Kenny stood down after a decade in their chair.
She later described not getting the gig as her “biggest and most public” knockback.
Ryan Tubridy (49) who won the coveted presenting role – but Miriam did get an opportunity to step into shows albeit temporarily during the Covid pandemic.
In her statement today, Ms O’Callaghan said: “I’ve been lucky enough to present the iconic Late Late Show twice, and I loved the experience. I wish whoever does go for the job the very best – it’s a brilliant opportunity and very exciting. I also wish my heartiest congratulations in advance to whoever gets it – what a joyous role, enjoy!”
She previously told the RTÉ Guide about her disappointment at not landing the role in 2009.
“Getting knockbacks maybe makes you stronger. My biggest and most public example of that was when Ryan [Tubridy] got The Late Late Show when all the bookies were saying that I would,” she said.
“I remember going home that evening to my kids who just asked ‘What’s for dinner?’. They had no idea. And when I didn’t get the Late Late, the biggest show in the station, I decided to stay with Prime Time.”
She presented the show for two weeks while the host recovered and said that she “made history” as the first woman to ever present the show.
“I made history. I got to present The Late Late Show twice even if I only broke the glass ceiling the first time,” the mother of eight said.
RTÉ insiders are firmly tipping Claire Byrne (47) as the frontrunner for the job — with several people telling the Sunday Independent “it has to be a woman”, given that a man has occupied the chair since 1962.
Former presenter Pat Kenny has publicly said it is “almost inevitable” the new presenter will be female, while Tubridy has himself joked during Friday’s night’s show that he wished his successor luck, “whoever she is”.
In an interview on Today with Claire Byrne last Friday — his first interview after the news broke — Tubridy asked the bookies’ favourite to replace him if she would like the job. Byrne laughed off the comment.
She left her Monday night TV programme, Claire Byrne Live, earlier this year citing the time being a presenter on both radio and TV was taking away from her family.
Speaking on his radio show this morning, Tubridy said he is “very happy” that news of his departure is now public.
“Very briefly on my decision to leave the Late Late Show, I’ve got ten more shows, very neat,” he said on RTÉ Radio 1.
“But just to say first of all, if you have my number and if you’ve texted or WhatsApped me, my apologies if I haven’t got back to you, it’s been busy.
“Secondly, if you’ve stopped me on the street or in the shop or in the pub in the last 48 hours, thank you.
“People have been so very, very kind and I really appreciate it because it was a surprise decision for a lot of people.
“I’m very relieved today, I feel very liberated, not because I was in any way incarcerated but I just mean in the sense that that decision is out there now and I’m just very happy that that’s out there in the universe.”
Tubridy said the conversation has now rightly turned to who his successor will be, and he looks forward to tuning in.