As Paul Russell recalls, there have been numerous instances when matters did not turn out quite according to plan...
For example, the show once featured two fencers. Unfortunately, one of them had a speech impediment, making much of the interview incomprehensible. Worse, the guests enthusiastically tried to demonstrate their skills by the use of electrodes attached to scoring parts of their bodies which buzzed when touched. It was not the greatest moment in radio history.
Russell recalls another occasion when a couple brought in a snake and a lizard. The snake wrapped itself all around the controls and all over Gerry who was trying to interview the couple. He stayed outwardly calm, but was inwardly so freaked that instead of putting on a piece of music he put on the AA Roadwatch!
On another infamous occasion the show did a Christmas special "starring" Aidan Walsh and Gavin Friday. Aidan spent the entire show screaming at the top of his voice for no apparent reason, sending the volume metres well into the red and beyond.
The irrepressible Brenda Donohue was once sent to do a vox pop about the theory that people think a lot about sex while riding bikes. Unfortunately, the stretch of Dublin street she picked suddenly became totally devoid of bikes and when one eventually went by she chased after it down Grafton Street, screaming obscenities at the rider to stop, all of which came over loud and clear on the radio.
Donohue also remembers doing a live broadcast outside the Ilac Centre in Dublin when the well-known female religious fanatic who parades around Dublin with a cross came charging at her screaming abuse. While Branda was trying to cope with this unexpected threat, a guy wearing a Russian hat commandeered the mike and started playing a harmonica into it.
Sometimes things even turn violent. You'd imagine that Cassidy's pub in Dublin would be one of the safest places to be during the Gulf War, but no. O'Donohue was there asking "ordinary" folks what they thought of the war when a burly bloke came over and went into a "you people make me sick" routine. Another chap, a seriouslymacho type, promptly waded in like a Scud missile with a "you don't talk to a woman like that when I'm around" and a big mill ensured. Donohue just moved out of harm's way and let them get on with it.
The bould Donohue nearly got her marching orders when she refused to come home after doing her required stint at Italia '90, despite several attempts to persuade her. "I didn't care if RTE were going to refuse to pay the bills," she says. "I just got carried away with the whole excitement of it all." She still works there. (RTE that is, not Italy.)
But this could only happen in Limerick. Valerie Sweeney once did a piece about a 17-foot high naked sculpture of "the wounded king" erected on wheels in a Limerick park. Local objectors demanded that a "nappy" be put on the offending parts, while for her part, Seeney actually climbed up their own "Penis Incident Room"!
Sweeney was also involved with another cock-up when she was reporting on a Tipperary hen which laid green eggs. During the live broadcast the hen started pecking at her tights and putting its head up her skirt until she was forced to defend herself and explain to Gerry, "Sorry, but I’m standing here with a large cock in my hand."
She was also despatched in the traditional midday dance. (She took off her wedding ring). A frisky elderly chap, well into his 80s, "with about three hairs and teeth", asked her for a dance during he had a fair grip of her bum. "Afterwards, he told me I had the arse of a seventeen-year-old." She recalls ruefully. Rumour has it that she put her wedding ring back on fairly swiftly!
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Pat Dunne, now producer of the Gay Byrne Show on Radio 1, was one of the early producers on The Gerry Ryan Show.Read More
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