Claire Byrne and Brendan O’Connor are reportedly the top contenders to replace Ryan Tubridy as the new host of The Late Late Show.
The presenter announced his shock departure from the RTÉ chat show on Thursday morning, after fourteen years as host.
While bookies have hotly tipped Miriam O’Callaghan as Ryan’s replacement, industry insiders have put their money on Claire or Brendan.
Amid calls for a woman to be the next host, former RTE commercial director Willie O’Reilly said: “My money would be on Claire.”
“She’s very confident in front of the cameras, has so many talents and she’s female. Current affairs is her natural home, so it was for Pat Kenny, but he ended up doing the Toy Show.”
“The Late Late has faltered in recent times because of the lack of visiting Hollywood names. It could be the Late Late Show is moving back towards the kind of panel debates it had under Gay Byrne — with the Bishop and the Nightie. That would be perfect for Claire.”
“While the next host of the Late Late Show doesn’t have to be a woman, that’s certainly the drift of things and RTE believe there aren’t enough women fronting their shows.”
It’s also believed Director General Dee Forbes will push for a woman to take the job before she steps down from her role later this year.
An insider said: “Claire is a mum with three kids so I’d say she knows all about kids and toys to do a Toy Show. I know she stepped back from her TV debate show to concentrate on her family.
“But the Late Late Show would be a hard gig to turn down, given that in 60 years the job of Late Late host has only come up three times.”
Meanwhile, other industry sources believe Brendan O’Connor would be perfect for the job.
The insider said: “RTE get their Late Late hosts from Saturday nights. Both Pat Kenny and Ryan Tubridy had Saturday night chat shows.”
“Tommy Tiernan wouldn’t want the job but the logical step would be to look at his predecessor, Brendan O’Connor.”
“The last series of Brendan’s Saturday night chat show was overtaking the Late Late Show before he was cruelly axed to make way for Ray D’Arcy.
“There would be some in RTE who would like to right that wrong by giving Brendan the Late Late. He can do light and shade.”