From boom to possible bust; a look back at Al Porter's 2017

It started with reported interest from Conan O'Brien and James Corden and has ended with the 24-year-old Dubliner resigning from Today FM...

Rarely has a year started so well and ended in such controversy as it has done for Al Porter who yesterday resigned from Today FM following allegations about his conduct.

“I need time away from the spotlight after decades in the entertainment industry”, Porter said in a statement, which questions whether he’ll still be topping the bill in the Olympia Theatre pantomime, Polly & The Beanstalk, which he co-wrote with fellow comedian Karl Spain, and is due to run from December 15-January 7 with Dustin The Turkey and Fair City’s Ryan Andrews co-starring.

Promoters Pat Egan Management have yet to confirm whether the show, with or without Porter, will go ahead.

He’s also down to play three Christmas dinner shows at Taylors Three Rock in Rathfarnham.

It’s all a far cry from January this year when, as part of the programming re-shuffle that followed Anton Savage’s shock departure, Al Porter was announced as the new lunchtime man on Today FM.

In the latest JNLRs, Porter’s noon-2.30pm show was up 2,000 to 118,000 listeners, which Marconi House insiders felt was a decent performance for a debutante presenter still finding his radio feet.

Porter was among the first people the Late Late Show thought of in February when planning their Valentine’s special. His appearance prompted over 200 calls to the Donnybrook complaints line, but helped deliver a 46% audience share for Tubridy and his team.

In March, the Tallaght 24-year-old was joined by the likes of Alison Spittle and Linda Martin, who'd also been on the Late Late with him, for an Amnesty International Ireland fundraiser in Vicar St.

A previous Vicar St. sell-out of his resulted in the donating of €10,000 to Comic Relief.

Porter, who’s acknowledged his own battles with depression, has also been associated with the Dublin Simon Community, Cycle Against Suicide and Pieta House.

In May, he was confirmed by TV3 as presenter of the Irish Blind Date, which scored a whopping 266,000 viewers when it debuted in September. A re-run of the show was dropped from the TV3 schedule over the weekend.

Over the course of 2017, Porter has also appeared on BBC Northern Ireland’s Delete Delete Delete with Patrick Kiely and Angela Scanlon, and BBC Two’s Insert Name Here; this all coming on the back of his BBC One Michael McIntyre’s Big Show debut in December 2016.

In June, Porter played his biggest stand-up show to date as part of the Cork Live At The Marquee summer programme. There were also high-profile stand-up appearances at Longitude and Electric Picnic; a London Soho Theatre show in May attended by Graham Norton, and a July link-up with Lynx as part of their Find Your Magic campaign.

In September, it was reported that he’d landed a new comedy series, The Men Who Made Me, which BBC Radio 4 had earmarked for the New Year. There's also been talk of an RTÉ development deal.

In October, he performed a “Best bits from my last two Edinburgh shows” gig in Tallaght intended for a US TV showreel.

“I’m heading to New York and LA soon and the teams at Conan O’Brien, James Corden and more want a video of my stuff,” he explained.

“He Came. He Saw. He Came Again” had been the tagline of his Campus Maximus show at Edinburgh 2017, which elicited a four out of five star review from The Scotsman newspaper. Porter was also commended as being “as close to a sure thing as you can get” by The Guardian who continued that, “He has the sharp suit and superbly confident delivery of Michael McIntyre, the gritty working-class yarns of John Bishop and the winningly smutty camp of Alan Carr. It’s a package that should propel him to serious fame.”

There was industry recognition on November 8 when the Irish Film & TV Academy held ‘An Audience With Al Porter’ in Dublin’s Westbury Hotel following his winning of their inaugural 2016 Gala TV Rising Star Award.

The Porter coffers were further swollen by a weekly Daily Star column, which on August 10, 2016 proclaimed, “We need new Irish sex scandal.”

“Ireland is long overdue a celeb sex scandal,” he wrote, unaware of what was coming down the track. “All the best ones are historic. Bishop Casey, Haughey and Keane, Miley and Fidelma. The only gossip we’ve had all year is the randy seminarians of Maynooth and that hasn’t shocked anyone. Gay priests? Surely not!

“Only last week on Des Bishop’s podcast I said I once considered entering the priesthood. The next day there’s countless articles about naughty priests on Grindr. I can’t help but wonder if the Church are leaking this to try reel me back in?

“We need the aloof Montrose RTÉ types’ arses in our papers. Just to make them human. I’d offer my own nudity but that’ll surprise no one. I’ve sent so many naughty photos on Grindr that if I went missing your best bet would be to put a photo of my manhood on a milk carton. More people would recognise me.”

Days before the current furore Porter gave a fascinating interview to Olaf Tyaransen, which with appropriate caveats will be appearing in the 2018 Hot Press Annual. He was due in HP's Trinity Street HQ for a photo-shoot the afternoon his name started trending for the wrong reasons on social media, but cancelled at the last minute.

Meanwhile, another of the acts Pat Egan Management are promoting this month in Dublin and Belfast, Aled Jones, has “voluntarily agreed not to go on the BBC” following a story in The Sun about messages he allegedly sent in the past to a female colleague.

"Whilst he accepts that his behaviour over a decade ago was occasionally juvenile, as was that of others, he never intended to harass or distress and he strongly denies any inappropriate contact,” a statement on Jones’ behalf says. "He is, however, deeply sorry for any upset caused and hopes this matter is resolved soon."

 

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