Gerry Ryan

Gerard Ryan

Gerry Ryan pictured at the opening of the Grand Canal Theatre in March 2010, the month before his death.
Born Gerard Ryan
4 June 1956(1956-06-04)
Clontarf, County Dublin, Ireland
Died 30 April 2010(2010-04-30) (aged 53)
Leeson Street, Dublin 4[1]
Nationality Irish
Education Law degree
Alma mater Trinity College, Dublin
Occupation Broadcaster
Years active 1979–2010
Agent Noel Kelly[2][3]
Spouse Morah Brennan (1982–2008;[4] 5 children)

Gerard "Gerry" Ryan (4 June 1956 – 30 April 2010)[4] was an Irish presenter of radio and television employed by Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ). He presented The Gerry Ryan Show on radio station RTÉ 2fm each weekday morning from 1988 until his death.

He hosted several series of television shows, including Secrets, Gerry Ryan Tonight, Ryantown, Gerry Ryan's Hitlist, Operation Transformation and Ryan Confidential [5] Ryan was also noted for co-presenting Eurovision Song Contest 1994 and, in 2008, he presented an edition of The Late Late Show, television's longest-running chat show.

Ryan's style was considered by some to be that of a motor-mouth shock jock.[6] The Gerry Ryan Show was subject to several upheld complaints to the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI),[7][8][9] although once escaped punishment when he said "Would it be considered blasphemous if someone said on air that 'God is a bollocks?'".[10] Ryan was noted for the enjoyment he took in discussing topics such as sex, bodily functions, and food - as well as current social and political issues.[11] PR guru Max Clifford observed he could have, like Graham Norton and Terry Wogan, had a successful broadcasting career in the UK and said he was similar to "Michael Parkinson at his best".[12]

Ryan was found dead in his Dublin apartment on 30 April 2010.[13][14] An inquest adjudged his death to have been caused by cocaine and alcohol consumption.[15]

Contents

Early life

Ryan was born in Dublin in 1956. His father, Vinnie, was a "slightly eccentric" dentist from a Presbyterian background and his mother, Maureen, "a flamboyant woman" who came from a theatrical background and worked in the theatre.[16] His godfather was broadcaster Eamonn Andrews. He learnt to shoot with Charles Haughey's children.[17] He had two brothers, Michael and Vincent.[18] He was educated at St Paul's College, Raheny.[17] Ryan's mother died on Christmas day 2006.[18]

Career

Early career

Early in his career, Ryan was involved part-time in pirate radio - presenting a selection of programmes firstly for Alternative Radio Dublin (ARD) and then for Big D. When Radio 2 (now RTÉ 2fm) was launched in 1979, Ryan joined RTÉ as a DJ where he presented a selection of speech- and music-based programmes, including Here Comes the Weekend on Friday nights and Saturday Scene on Saturday mornings, which earned him £78 per week. Ryan then moved to a night-time music show called 'Lights out' which accompanied Mark Cagney's grown-up album programme and Dave Fanning's The Rock Show as part of Radio 2's night-time line-up. The trio brought their shows on tour around Ireland. Ryan said they dressed as if they were in a band and behaved as such as well, booking into "awful hotels", drinking heavily and staying out late in "dodgy nightclubs". Their excessive talking has led to Ryan dubbing them "the three big-mouths on at night-time". They were good friends; Fanning was "a kind of hyperactive, Southside rock guru" and Cagney was "this obsessive, meticulous Corkman who would annotate every single millisecond of what he played on-air".[19] The trio also started to put on live shows, some of which Ryan described as being attended by crowds of 20,000.

"Lambo" incident

In 1987, Ryan and a group of volunteers spent time in the countryside of Connemara as part of The Gay Byrne Show.[20] Ryan claimed to have killed and eaten a lamb to survive, earning him the nickname "Lambo", though the story turned out to be a hoax.[21]

The Gerry Ryan Show

Ryan's show, The Gerry Ryan Show, began in March 1988[22] when he was offered a three-hour morning radio slot. The G. Ryan Show,[23] running from 09:00–12:00 on weekday mornings, consisted of interviews and phone-ins via the "Ryan Line".[24][25] He began by discussing the headlines of that morning's newspapers. Following the news update at 10:00, Ryan introduced that morning's Nob Nation, a satirical slot which featured impersonations of politicians and RTÉ media personnel comparable to rival station Today FM's Gift Grub. Ryan presented RTÉ 2fm's only show which was regularly among the top twenty Irish radio shows in Ireland, a show which commanded around €4-5 million for RTÉ per annum, mainly through advertising (one thirty-second advertisement during the show cost €900).[26] This meant RTÉ would have earned €27,000 through advertising from Ryan per day.[27]

The defining moment of the show came in 1993, when a rape victim, Lavinia Kerwick, rang GRS to air her feelings.[19] For the first time it occurred to Ryan that the story was more important than the question. Since then The Ryan Show became something of a national institution as the oldest show still running on 2fm. Despite repeated reshuffles which have seen all other presenters shifted around, RTÉ have never moved The Ryan Show from its traditional slot.[28]

In 1997, Ryan's wife Morah, from whom he later separated, phoned her husband's show and, under the name Norah, told half a million listeners that her husband dumps his underpants on the floor before hopping into bed every night, doesn't put his clothes on hangers, had not cleaned the dog's mess from the back yard for weeks and never puts the rubbish out for the dustbin men. When she was done she asked her husband: "You would do that now, wouldn't you Gerry?" The interview was nearing its finish when he realised what was happening after hearing his crew laughing in the Montrose control room. An embarrassed Ryan informed his listeners: "This is my wife talking".[29]

In 2004, Ryan caused uproar when he cancelled an interview with the Taoiseach of the time, Bertie Ahern at very short notice.[30]

Following Ryan's death, British broadcaster Chris Evans credited The Gerry Ryan Show with inspiring him while on a holiday in Killarney.[31]

In October 1990, Ryan received a Jacob's Award for The Gerry Ryan Show, described at the award ceremony as "unbelievably bizarre and unprecedented - and at the same time being serious, hilarious and unpredictable".[32]

Television career

Gerry Ryan (right) co-presented Eurovision Song Contest 1994 alongside Cynthia Ní Mhurchú, one of the highlights of his television career.

Ryan hosted several series of television shows during his career.

Secrets was a popular Saturday night show which was not well received by critics.[33] The producer, Kevin Linehan, was removed from the show to work on the Millstreet Eurovision and asked Ryan to co-present the event with Fionnuala Sweeney. They later met and Linehan informed Ryan that RTÉ had objected to his proposal.[34] He did, however, co-present the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest alongside Cynthia Ní Mhurchú where he had the honour of introducing Riverdance as the interval act. He had watched Michael Flatley and Jean Butler put the act together, choreographing it and rehearsing it "fifty or sixty times" and later wrote of being offered the opportunity to invest a stake of £20,000 in the act. Ryan turned it down, a decision he later admitted regretting.[19] Ní Mhurchú later credited Ryan with telling her to not take herself too seriously.[31] Ryan had previously been involved with both the 1986 and 1990 Contest providing both television and radio commentary for RTÉ, he also provided the RTÉ Radio commentary for the 2002 and the 2003 Contest.

The presenter describes Ryantown as "the worst television experience I've ever had in my entire life", with producer Julie Parsons (who had previously worked on The Gay Byrne Hour) nearly having a nervous breakdown, according to Ryan. He described RTÉ as "extremely unhelpful".

"Suggestions would arrive at our production meetings: maybe Gerry should wear a hat. Maybe Gerry should sit down. Maybe Gerry should run around more." [35]

Ryan unsuccessfully pleaded with RTÉ to cancel midway through the series.

Gerry Ryan Tonight was a chat show that aired two nights per week. Ryan describes it as "no less traumatic" as it nearly cost him his close personal friendship with the producer Ferdia McAnna.[35]

Ryan was touted to be the successor to Gay Byrne following his departure from The Late Late Show. Reports that Ryan was to be made producer as well as presenter and given a deal worth £500,000 – higher earnings than Byrne received – [36] proved unfounded when Pat Kenny took over the role in 1999.

Recent TV work included Gerry Ryan's Hitlist, Ryan Confidential, and Operation Transformation. Ryan said the critics were not as vocal anymore although he puts this down to them "mostly... ignoring me".[35] Ryan is also noted for presenting The Late Late Show on 24 October 2008 when regular presenter Pat Kenny became bereaved.[37][38] In positive notices unusual as per his television career, Ryan received praise for his guest role, even coping well with the traditionally difficult comedian Tommy Tiernan whose appearances on the show with Kenny led to complaints. The edition of The Late Late Show that he hosted had the largest audience of any that season apart from the annual edition of The Late Late Toy Show.[39]

The Evening Herald reported that when Tonight with Craig Doyle finished, Ryan was set to present a chat show in autumn 2010.[40]

Autobiography

In the early part of 2008, Ryan announced that he had been contracted by Penguin to write his autobiography. The €100,000 advance paid by Penguin to Ryan was reported to be the largest ever paid for a book published in Ireland.[41] Would the Real Gerry Ryan Please Stand Up was released to Irish readers on 16 October 2008. In January 2009, it was reported that the book has sold just over 10,000 copies.[42]

Earnings

Ryan earned €487,492 from RTÉ in 2004,[43] making him the second highest paid presenter to colleague Pat Kenny. He earned €462,442 in 2003, and €601,882 in 2002.[44] RTÉ offered Ryan a new five year contract worth €600,000 a year in July 2007.[45] Ryan said that just before this he came very close to signing a deal with Denis O'Brien to present a daytime programme on Newstalk which was about to go national. He was offered several millions more than RTÉ were offering him. Ryan considered the deal, thinking of how one of his best friends Willie O'Reilly was head of sister station Today FM and was heavily involved with the other stations. However negotiations fell apart as Ryan cautioned on how delicate the situation was, with RTÉ looking at his contract and deciding if he was of value to them anymore. O'Brien allegedly disappeared and Ryan was told he was out of coverage. The irony was not lost on him – "pretty incredible for a guy who owns most of the world's mobile telephones". O'Brien did eventually return but Ryan had already signed the RTÉ contract.[35]

In February 2009 Ryan refused to take a 10% pay cut from RTÉ, even as several other employees in RTÉ took such pay cuts, and declared it "bullshit".[46] On 10 March 2009 he gave a lengthy speech on his radio show, at the end of which he declared he would agree to break his existing contract with RTÉ, and take a pay cut.[47][48] He was not technically a member of RTÉ staff but was paid through a separate company, enabling Ryan and RTÉ to avoid paying as much tax on his salary.[49]

Personal life

Ryan was married for 26 years to his wife Morah, with whom he had five children: Lottie, (born 1987), Rex, (born 1990), Bonnie, (born 1993), Elliott, (born 1997), and Babette,(born 2000).[50] When he worked for the pirate radio station Big D, Morah helped him with his programme. She helped her future husband put the music together and carry the equipment. He paid her £3 out of the £15 he earned.[51]

When they first married, the Ryans had very little money. Pat Kenny gave up a bed for Ryan and his wife to use while on honeymoon in Greece.[52] Ryan obtained a mortgage by lying about his salary and bought a little house in Marino. The couple had some difficulty making their payments and they were constantly receiving reminders and even notices of foreclosure.

Ryan pictured with his partner Melanie Verwoerd at the opening of the Grand Canal Theatre in March 2010

In March 2008, Ryan announced he and Morah were separating,[53][54], and called the separation a very painful experience.[55]

He began a relationship with the former South African Ambassador to Ireland and UNICEF Ireland executive director, Melanie Verwoerd.[56] Melanie Verwoerd has said she was “deeply shocked” to have been sacked from the charity because of the publicity surrounding her relationship with the late broadcaster.[57]

It was claimed that Ryan was known by some to be a cocaine user, allegedly offering to the former RTE Radio DJ Gareth O'Callaghan.[58][59] Ryan's former sister in law, Janice O'Brien said that;[60] "Many people who knew Gerry knew he took drugs. It was an accepted open secret for years. He used everywhere -- birthday parties, Christmas parties. I'm not the only person in the world that knows this,"

Health

Ryan spent several days on a drip in hospital in 2006 due to dehydration after contracting the winter vomiting bug.[61] He also underwent a much-publicised vasectomy which resulted in an infected wound.[62]

Ryan was noted for his love of fine food and wine. He was battling a weight problem for several years, and had been taking Reductil (Sibutramine), a "slimming pill", which he said was effective and safe.[63] Ryan conceded in his autobiography he drank too much for his own good.[64]

Death

"Let's be honest about this. Gerry could be a bollocks, too. No question about that. He was self-centred in many ways."

“He was one of the greats of modern Irish broadcasting on radio and television.”

– Taoiseach Brian Cowen[66]

“Gerry was an extraordinarily talented broadcaster whose unique communication skills and larger than life persona entertained and enlivened a national audience over many years.”

– President Mary McAleese[67]

“He was the best company you could ever have. He was bold in every sense of the meaning of that word. He was brave in his broadcasting; he was brave in his life; he lived his life to the full.”

“I heard the news on Friday from Noel Kelly, our agent. I cried then, I’ve cried since, and I will cry again.”

Ryan spoke of feeling ill on the night of 29 April 2010, and cancelled several appointments on that night.[68] He was found dead in the bedroom of his Leeson Street, Dublin apartment by his partner on the following afternoon,[68][69]

Ryan's family issued the following statement to the public: “Gerry Ryan died today. Morah and his children are in complete shock. Please respect their privacy.[68]

President Mary McAleese and many political figures issued regrets at Ryan's passing.[67][70] Fellow RTÉ broadcasters Gay Byrne, Pat Kenny, Larry Gogan, Joe Duffy, Dave Fanning and Ryan Tubridy also expressed their regrets.[52][66][71][72] Chris Evans of BBC Radio 2 also paid tribute.[72] RTÉ Radio 1 cut short their afternoon show for a special tribute programme on Drivetime.[14] Bono also expressed his sympathy.[73]

Director-General of RTÉ Cathal Goan, Managing Director of RTÉ Radio, Clare Duignan, and RTÉ Chairperson Tom Savage all released statements on RTÉ.ie.[74] Marian Finucane spoke of meeting him on the Tuesday before his death, considering him to be stressed.[75]

Fans also added their condolences to a memorial website set up in his memory.[76] RTÉ colleagues discussed his life on The Late Late Show.[77] A two-hour radio programme presented by Evelyn O'Rourke was broadcast on RTÉ 2fm on 1 May 2010.[78] A book of condolences was opened in the RTÉ Radio Centre, in Donnybrook, Dublin,[2][79][80][81][82]

Following the announcement of the findings into Ryan's death and its relationship with cocaine consumption at the inquest on 10 December 2010, the broadcaster was involved in further controversy due to his outspoken views against drug use. Details of Ryan's cocaine habit reversed the sympathetic outpourings of the public at the time of his death. Journalist Kevin Myers stated, "He was also a criminal fool, and an enemy of all that's decent and honourable and true in society".[83]

See also

References

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  32. ^ The Irish Times, "Jacob's awards presented", October 15, 1990
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  42. ^ Brendan Cronin (2009-01-11). "Book buyers find Ryan a big turn-off". Tribune.ie. http://www.tribune.ie/news/home-news/article/2009/jan/11/book-buyers-find-ryan-a-big-turn-off. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
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  45. ^ "Ryan lines up €3m pay day". Irish Independent. 2007-07-27. http://www.independent.ie/national-news/ryan-lines-up-euro3m-pay-day-1046299.html. Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  46. ^ Colin Coyle (2009-03-07). "Ryan Tubridy joins pay-cut volunteers". The Sunday Times (London: Times Newspapers). http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article5864932.ece. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
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  48. ^ "Larry Mullen lays Bono bare as Gogan produces pure radio gold". Evening Herald. 2009-03-13. http://www.herald.ie/entertainment/tv-radio/larry-mullen-lays-bono-bare-as-gogan-produces-pure-radio-gold-1671977.html. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  49. ^ O2 Ideas Room (2010-02-07). "Tax squeeze on high-paid TV stars – National News, Frontpage". Independent.ie. http://www.independent.ie/national-news/tax-squeeze-on-highpaid-tv-stars-2052069.html. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
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  57. ^ http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0725/1224301315484.html
  58. ^ So how do I know Gerry Ryan had let cocaine take over his life? Because he offered it to me at his own Christmas party
  59. ^ Gerry Ryan 'took cocaine at work in RTÉ': Tragedy of his addiction revealed
  60. ^ New Ryan drug claims emerge
  61. ^ "DJ Gerry is laid up with winter vomit bug". Irish Independent. 29 November 2006. http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/news-gossip/dj-gerry-is-laid-up-with-winter-vomit-bug-70887.html. Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  62. ^ Ryan, Gerry. Would the Real Gerry Ryan Please Stand Up (Penguin Ireland, 2008). First published in The Irish Mail on Sunday, 12 October 2008, p.33
  63. ^ "Gerry tells how diet tablets have cut him down to size". Irish Independent. 4 March 2007. http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/gerry-tells-how-diet-tablets-have-cut-him-down-to-size-122664.html. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  64. ^ [1]
  65. ^ "I know there'll never be another like Gerry Ryan". Irish Independent. 6 May 2010. http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/dave-fanning-i-know-therell-never-be-another-like-gerry-ryan-2166522.html. Retrieved 11 Dcemeber 2010. 
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  67. ^ a b "RTÉ broadcaster Gerry Ryan found dead". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. 30 April 2010. http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0430/ryang.html. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
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  69. ^ "1994 host Ireland: Gerry Ryan died at the age of 53". esctoday.com. 30 April 2010. http://www.esctoday.com/news/read/15618. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  70. ^ "Taoiseach leads tributes to Ryan". The Irish Times. 30 April 2010. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2010/0430/breaking54.html?via=rel. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  71. ^ "Tributes flood in for the late Gerry Ryan". RTÉ.ie. 30 April 2010. http://www.rte.ie/arts/2010/0430/ryang2.html. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  72. ^ a b "Ryan's 'unconstrained spirit' honoured". The Irish Times. 30 April 2010. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2010/0430/breaking58.html. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
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  74. ^ "Gerry Ryan 1956–2010". RTÉ Press Office. 30 April 2010. http://www.rte.ie/about/pressreleases/2010/0430/gerryryandeath300410.html. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  75. ^ Niamh Horan; Maeve Sheehan (2 May 2010). "Gerry’s friends feared for his health". Sunday Independent. http://www.independent.ie/national-news/gerryrsquos-friends-feared-for-his-health-2161958.html. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  76. ^ "Lasting Tribute memorial page". Gerry Ryan. http://www.lastingtribute.co.uk/tribute/ryan/3310449. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  77. ^ Ronan McGreevy (30 April 2010). "Ryan's 'unconstrained spirit' honoured". The Irish Times. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2010/0430/breaking58.html?via=mr. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  78. ^ Ronan McGreevy (3 May 2010). "Public pay tribute to the man they saw as a friend". The Irish Times. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/0503/1224269588481.html. Retrieved 3 May 2010. "Head of 2FM John McMahon, hugged his tearful wife Evelyn O’Rourke, a Gerry Ryan Show reporter for eight years, after she signed the condolence book." 
  79. ^ "Book of Condolence to be opened for Gerry Ryan". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. 1 May 2010. http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0501/ryang.html. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  80. ^ "Book of Condolence for Gerry Ryan". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. 1 May 2010. http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0501/ryang.html. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  81. ^ "Book of condolence for Gerry Ryan". BBC News. 1 May 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/8654812.stm. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  82. ^ "Hundreds sign Ryan condolence books". The Belfast Telegraph. 1 May 2010. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/breaking-news/uk-ireland/hundreds-sign-ryan-condolence-books-14789641.html. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  83. ^ Myers, Kevin (15 December 2010). "It is up to those who publicly mourned Gerry to publicly denounce his cocaine consumption". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myers/kevin-myers-it-is-up-to-those-who-publicly-mourned-gerry-to-publicly-denounce-his-cocaine-consumption-2461059.html. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 

External links

Commentary on Gerry Ryan:

The Irish Times, 16 May 2008 – impressive growth in Ryan's audience. Obituaries:

Media offices
Preceded by
Linda Martin
Eurovision Song Contest Ireland Commentator
1986
Succeeded by
Marty Whelan
Preceded by
Republic of Ireland Fionnuala Sweeney
Eurovision Song Contest presenter
(with Cynthia Ní Mhurchú)
1994
Succeeded by
Republic of Ireland Mary Kennedy

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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