- 31 May 19
2FM celebrate their 40th birthday today, and have honoured one of the station's all-time greats by presenting a special edition of the Ryan Line - pieced together with thousands of hours' worth of archive recordings. To mark the occasion, we're revisiting Liam Mackey's classic interview with Gerry Ryan, published in Hot Press after the legendary broadcaster's passing in 2010.
It may sound like the line-up for a Battle of the Bands competition – in fact these are all items taken from the running order for the Gerry Ryan Show of Thursday April 19, 1990.
The schedule, typed on a single piece of paper and blocked into three hour-long sections, had been drawn up at the regular production/editorial meeting the evening before, but here we are now, with the programme not sixty minutes on air, and the 10 o'clock news still to come, and already the running order has gone out the window. (Or its nearest metaphorical equivalent – The Gerry Ryan show is beamed live to the nation from one of 2FM's brace of modest and decidedly unglamorous, back-to-back studios, bunkered deep underground in RTE's Radio Centre in Montrose).
The reason? Somebody in Wexford has rung in with an urgent account of a U.F.O. sighting they've made over Gorey – and Mr. Ryan, grinning madly into the microphone, is, of course, encouraging the caller to deliver of himself ever more fanciful and elaborate word pictures.
Producer Paul Russel, late of Independent Newspapers, isn't the least bit fazed by the sudden change in plan. As Siobhan Hough – herself a sometime contributor to the show – and Anita Byrne (wo)man the constantly flashing telephones in the production room, Russell casually explains that "the schedule is there to give us the confidence that we have a show – but basically it's constructed as we go along."
Today, however, there is some solid scaffolding in place, with roving reporters Brenda Donoghue filing a piece on her experiences as a roadie with Hothouse Flowers and Barbra Jordan phoning through an on-the-spot and just-this-side-of-tearful description of a canine being put to sleep in The Dogs And Cats Home – one of 50 such abandoned beasts, apparently, that have to be despatched in this way every week in Dublin. Barbara is an animal lover and there's some concern in the team that she may not be able to see the assignment through, but she succeeds, and Ryan himself is particularly impressed with her composed report, telling Paul Russell immediately afterwards to send words down the line to her to that effect.
The other main plank in the show is the planned telephone debate on a particularly horrific and bizarre case in the U.S. concerning a couple, the Twichells, who refused to allow medical attention for their five year old son who was suffering terribly from a serious bowel obstruction – believing, instead, that the power of prayer would be sufficient to save him. The little boy, in fact, died an agonisingly painful death.
The Ryan team, who came across the case in a newspaper report, feel it's a subject likely to engender heated debate among the show's listeners. Indeed, in the run-up to the item, the presenter himself briefly comes in to the production room from the studio, while a record is playing, to remind everyone that "there's room for on-air arguments between the heads themselves on this one."
But it doesn't pan out like that. Even callers who insist on the usefulness of prayer baulk at the Twichell's monstrous presumption and soon enough, in the face of almost complete unanimity, Ryan, with a typical piece of uncompromising opinionation, brings the item to a close.
Otherwise the show moves briskly, sometimes even adhering to plan, across its three-hour life-span, until, with the clock striking twelve, Russell can relax and allow that it's been "a pretty lively show with plenty of telephone calls – which always creates a different atmosphere to studio guests." The presenter, tying up loose ends, grins and notes off-air that all that was needed was "news that the dog had come back to life by the power of prayer."
There is one special aspect to the day however – the team have learned that, according to the latest figures, for the first time ever The Gerry Ryan Show is pulling in more Dublin-based listeners between the ages of 15 and 54 than Gaybo along the corridor in Radio One.
So tonight they plan to celebrate at a restaurant. But first, Gerry Ryan, in the company of Hot Press, stays on in the now silent studio to do again what it is that's made his name and his reputation – talk, talk, talk…
GROWING UP WITH THE HAUGHEYS
LIAM MACKEY: Where did you grow up?
GERRY RYAN: I grew up in Clontarf where I'm going back to quite soon actually. I've just bought a house there. I lived for a year in the centre of the city after Morah and I got married but we moved back out to Marino after that, so most of my life has been spent on the northside of Dublin.
Where did you come in the family?
First-born, eldest of three – two other brothers. My father was and still is a dentist on Clontarf Road. He comes from, sort of, a quieter part of the family; he had a Scottish Presbyterian background, whereas my mother had an Irish, republican, theatrical, family background – so it's a kind of unusual mix.
So you would have been conscious of the entertainment business from an early age?
That was a predominant part of growing up. My mother's family were the Burkes and they controlled a lot of the cinemas and theatres and costumiers and lighting companies, the early sound companies and recording studios, they were involved in making sponsored programmes for radio, they were even involved in television in the early days. As a result we were constantly being exposed to every aspect of, admittedly, the more vaudevillian end of theatre. But I was quite familiar with theatres and backstages and what went into making shows and putting them on the road, and I did find it fascinating from an early age – though I had absolutely and utterly no interest in being involved in the entertainment industry. Initially, I think I wanted to be a dentist like my Dad (laughs).
Is it the case that, growing up, you were friendly with the Haugheys?
Conor and his younger brother went to St. Pauls in Raheny where I was, as did Michael O'Connor the son of Pat O'Connor, who was Charlie Haughey's election agent, and I got to know Conor and Michael very well; myself and my brother Mano palled around with them quite a lot at school. And something which was a tradition then – I don't know if teenagers indulge in it now – is that you'd spend one weekend in one fella's house and the next weekend in another fella's house, and staying out in Kinsealy where the Haughey's lived was always good crack because it was a very large house and there was lots to do there – fishing, shooting, motorbikes and so on.
Is it true that you were there the day they came to arrest Charlie Haughey on the Arms Trial charges?
That's right. I was staying in the house at the time, myself and my brother. This would have been around the early stage of our friendship as children and I can remember that morning, Mr. Haughey leaving the house and Mrs. Haughey bringing everybody back to their bedrooms. Of course, I wasn't aware of the significance of what what happening and they were being typical parents in that they weren't alarming the occupants of the house. But now that I look back on it there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in the house subsequently, although from my knowledge now of what happened, the whole thing was conducted with a very large degree of decorum and sensitivity.
Have those friendships survived the intervening years?
Conor went off to study mining technology in Canada, so he became kind of separated from his northside Dublin connections and made new friends. I was friends through university with Michael and he is now practising in his father's company. So we've gone our separate ways but we meet occasionally and it's like all school friendships, there's still something there, and you rely on past friendships for your connections.
What about the Da? Did you maintain a relationship with him later?
Well, Mr. Haughey, he can certainly remember as a parent will, the more negative sides of having guys like me hanging 'round the house at the time (laughs). We got up to fairly drastic things… he had to chastise us as much as my own parents, or indeed any other parents had to. Y'know, he reminds me of stories when I meet him that I've conveniently forgotten.
Well, I remember they had a lovely Triumph Herald which would now be a very valuable antique car and myself, Conor and Michael, and my brother Mano, and one or two other guys whose names have long-since left me, we drove that Triumph Herald into the ground around the estate. I mean we wrecked it, completely wrecked it – which of course we thought was our right at the time. It was there, the keys were in it, so why not drive it? I suppose we were the early prototypes of the Dublin joyriders.
Anyway, we wrecked it – and Mr. Haughey went bananas. I remember, we thought 'he's going completely over the top, after all it's only a Triumph Herald,' but when I think back on it, he was absolutely right.
Do you admire him as a politician?
I have a lot of difficulty, I must admit, in distinguishing the parent from the politician. But I do think he's a very successful politician, he's probably the most charismatic leader this country has ever had and, I have to admit, in the cold light of day, I think his politics probably suit Ireland at the moment better than anybody's."
Would you vote for him?
Would I vote for him? I would, yeah.
THE EVOLUTION OF RADIO RYAN
Back when you were making your reputation as a music disc-jockey on "Lights Out" did you feel even then that you'd like to get into more talk-based radio?
I always wanted to do something which had a greater degree of content in it and was always controversial and had an impact element to it. But I felt – indeed at the time I thought I knew – that RTE would never dare risk, let alone have the slightest interest, in putting me in that position. So it never crossed my mind that I would actually end up in mainstream radio.
So how, eventually, did that come about?
In the end I was offered the show because Bill O'Donovan – who had just taken on the responsibility for Radio 2 – and Cathal McCabe simply decided between the two of them, 'sure why not?'. They'd never come even close to challenging Gay and they thought 'we might as well put this guy on, it can't get any worse'. I don't think you could find a file deep in the bowels of RTE where there's a logical and well thought out strategem: I think Bill just said to himself, 'I have to do something different – now let's see what's the most different thing I can do'. And that most different thing he could do at the time was put me in.
I seem to remember Dave Fanning being quoted in Hot Press, just after the initial success of the current show, to the effect that a lot of people in RTE felt for a long time that you should have been doing this kind of programme.
Well I don't know who felt that! Dave, God bless his soul, may have felt that alright because he's a good friend of mine (laughs). But I can't think of anybody else. None of the other disc-jockeys rated me as a broadcaster. I mean, I got on well with them and made some good friends, but I think the lads really thought that 'Gerry's a bit left-of-centre but God love him, he's not much of a jock'.
Well I wasn't much of a jock. I mean, I spent a lot of the time shitting myself as to whether I could maintain my income, having dropped the whole legal career. The authorities didn't rate me, my colleagues didn't rate me, so I mean, I was playing a pretty sticky wicket here.
How was the current show originally conceived?
Radio 2 had a time-scale which was three hours, and they wanted it on at prime-time, eventually settling for 9 o'clock 'cos they thought they had to get in before Gay. As for content – the initial theory was that no item would be longer than a piece of pop music (laughs). What the reasoning for that was I don't know but that was the initial idea. Needless to say, it became apparent very quickly that it was completely impossible to get anything done in two-and-a-half minutes. So we started breaking that rule pretty early on and initially were brought to task for it – whether it was The Pope declaring his homosexuality or not, we were supposed to cover it within two-and-a-half minutes (laughs). But it became impossible to work within the framework.
So how did the present format evolve?
Well, at the beginning, we sometimes went on air with absolutely nothing, because none of us had any experience of chat-shows on Radio One, so we didn't even grasp the concept of a running order, we didn't understand the concept of setting up items beforehand, of investigating and researching them, and we had no reporters.
So what we really did was to rely on listeners to shape the show. In fact, the very early shows were shaped entirely by the listeners. And luckily the listeners responded very positively to this invitation to come on-air and to discuss everyday things. Often they would bring up the items themselves, on-air arguments would develop among listeners and between the listeners and myself. This is where the embryo of the current show developed – first of all conducting the show in the vernacular an then involving the listeners as much as possible. There, you had The Gerry Ryan Show.
And the rest was down to growing experience?
The rest of it was fine-tuning – bringing in researchers and reporters, designing a format you could rely on, work ahead of schedule. And gradually people begin to find their level, and discover their limitations. And that's where the interesting things started to happen, because we became so different to the rest of 2FM – although that was not always necessarily a good thing for our working relationship with everybody in here.
What about your own limitations?
I had a lot of obvious limitations in that, for example, I was lazy and I wouldn't have prepared myself as well as I do now. What I did have in my favour was that I'd had a reasonably good education, I'm a good conversationalist, and the legal training, in fairness to it, gave me a good ability to think on my feet – though recent court cases might dispute that.
But what I didn't have – I didn't keep an eye on political comings and goings as much as Pat Kenny does; I didn't have as much experience in developing an interview as Gay does; I didn't have any of those fine touches. So what I did was, I just began listening to Pat and Gay and Marian, day-in, day-out.
You deliberately made a point of doing this for the purpose of self-improvement?
I made a point of listening to them and what I discovered is – it's all a trick. If you have a personality that is attractive, that people like and want to communicate with, well then, the kernel is there. There rest of it is trickery, it's theatre, it's rabbits out of hats, and there's a lot of acting in it.
Now Gay has a lot of techniques that he uses when he's talking to people to familiarise them with him instantaneously, to appear warm when he's maybe not feeling that well himself, techniques like ending interviews without clicking your fingers, but instead fading the interview out…
Marian has a homliness, a kind of forced naïvety which works very well. Pat has an ability to sound intelligent and naïve at the same time, to ask questions pretending he doesn't know the answers to them, when you know bloody well he does and yet he's making the Nazi on the other end of the line make a complete fool of himself.
These are all techniques – and I'm a good learner, right, and I learned quickly from these people. And these people were the best.
And what did you bring to it?
What I brought to it was, I would take all these techniques – and then throw them in the bin (laughs). No, what I did, basically, was steal their ideas and apply them to my own personality. I mean, I'm much more aggressive than any of those three, I'm more over the top, and the amalgamation of their techniques and styles and tricks, and my personality, style and the few tricks I may have, has produced what is now the Gerry Ryan of the airwaves.
UNDER THE EYE OF THE COURT
I presume the recent incident which came to court was the most critical thing to come up in the programme's history?
Yeah, it would have been the most critical thing. It was very serious and we had to examine the situation very carefully. It was own-up time, you had to be honest about it.
To clarify what happened – as I understand it, the woman who telephoned told the production staff she wanted to talk about an alleged rape which occurred some years previously but once on the air with you began to talk about a more recent alleged rape.
Yeah, it transpired that the case she wanted to talk about was actually going to come before the courts – and she mentioned that early in the conversation with me. Now, at that stage, if I'd had my wits fully about me I should have terminated the conversation completely. Instead I went on with her and developed the conversation to the extent that it was felt by the accused that he was identified by the conversation. That was entirely my fault and it really lead us into a mine field.
What was very worrying about it was through a mistake of mine, we were brought under the scrutiny of the judiciary. The entire workings of The Gerry Ryan Show, and indeed, by virtue of that, the workings of RTE came under the examination of the court.
How, practically speaking, did that take effect?
In the course of the hearing – and let me emphasise it was a hearing, not a trial, contrary to what the press say – the judge in trying to estimate our degree of culpability had to know exactly how the whole system worked – who does what, the editorial machinery, the physical operation of the studio etc. And these are all fairly delicate subjects for any broadcasting institution or publishing house. So Paddy McEntee, our barrister came in, and stayed with us for an entire show and examined how we put the programme together. What we had done effectively on The Gerry Ryan Show was hold RTE up for examination – that was the most serious thing we were ever involved in.
Eventually it became clear to us that we were in a contempt situation – though what kind of a contempt situation was another matter. It subsequently transpired that the judge decided that we had been very responsible in the way that we'd dealt with the problem when it came to light, that'd we'd dealt with it honourably and we'd admitted we were wrong. But he also went on to say that we were not in contempt of court, because there was no case before the courts at the time, but we were in contempt of judicial process in that there was a case being prepared. And he fined us appropriately. I mean we were expecting a much larger fine. It was £200 for me, £500 for RTE and a bit of a stern warning from the judge.
And what about the fall-out in terms of the programme?
It had no effect whatsoever because the team is very closely-knit and the Tribune has already tried to trap me into answering that one (laughs).
I wasn't trying to trap you actually – I was thinking about the possibility of even an unconscious kind of self-censorship creeping in.
I admit that following on that we became sensitive to the degree that we changed the working environment of the programme to ensure we had a more robust production facility.
Meaning that we brought in another producer because we had been down to one producer at the time. Our normal quota is two – one administration and the other actually producing on air and they also interchange functions. Paul Russell is one producer and Joan Thorsney is brand-new.
So that was changed. Also, quite obviously, you don't spend a day in court and a couple of weeks preparing for a defence for a contempt case without becoming fairly sensitive to the possibility that you may put your foot in it again. So it was a good lesson for me from that point of view.
Are there any changes imposed from above in here?
None whatsoever – which implies that what they were willing to accept in RTE was that I had made a mistake. Now I wasn't taken out to dinner or anything like that, but they were able to say "Listen, you cocked up there, that's what happened, we're glad you admitted that you cocked up and we cocked up by not having a full compliment of producers here." So all in all, lessons were learnt.
GETTING HUNG FOR A LAMB
The other celebrated Gerry Ryan cock up/scandal was the whole "Lambo" business which now seems rather quaint. But is it true that, at the time, your RTE career was on the line as a result?
Oh yes, I think I was as close to getting the Golden Boot at that stage as I've ever been because I had conspired, in broadcasting parlance, to bring RTE into disrepute by my actions.
Because you told a lie?
Because I consciously told a lie. What I did was, I created good radio because that's what I felt I was being asked to do. I felt that nobody could possibly be hurt by what we did, and neither was there any legal fall-out whatsoever. So I felt it was perfectly legitimate at the time but it subsequently turned out to be the worst thing I could ever do as far as RTE were concerned.
There was this notion that everything that came out of RTE, or any other broadcasting institution for that matter, was the truth, that nothing had ever been set-up before, that a lie had never been told before. Now I still, to this day, find that a bit difficult to stomach but, however, I have to accept it. So they felt that in telling this lie on the flagship show, that I had endangered one of their most prized possessions, the jewel in the crown – which The Gay Byrne Show certainly was at the time. And there were people in RTE who were, like, ferociously angry about it, and in certain quarters my name was less than mud, it was excrement.
Was Gay Byrne one of them?
No, Gay never said boo to me about it.
Even though you pulled the wool over his eyes too?
Absolutely not. I think Gay was happy enough with the broadcasting. I don't think he saw any reason to delve any deeper into it. He certainly never said anything to me about it – never. He's a complete gent from that point of view. And I'm very grateful for that.
I since have re-established fairly amicable relations with John Cadden, the producer at the time of The Gay Byrne Show. John had been pretty angry and with good reason. Because the lamb landed on John's lap and he had to clean-up the mess – and it was a particularly unsavoury mess to clear-up.
So what saved your career?
What saved me was that the Director of Programmes was a guy called Michael Carroll. And Michael Carroll reckoned that Gerry Ryan just might have a future. And he said to me that he was not going to take the risk of sacking me. He felt that I had done something very stupid, very reprehensible and that it would certainly hold me back for a while – but Michael felt I had a future.
I sat quaking in his office the day he said it to me. He says, 'Y'know I'm not impressed with this but you're not going to be sacked – the best thing is to go off and keep your head down for a while'. Which I did.
Interestingly the business with the lamb brings us back up to date in terms of the concept of "spoof radio" – which is partly what the current show is about.
Well, the lamb is the essence of The Gerry Ryan Show now – is it true or is it not true? It's a broadcasting principle now.
G. RYAN VERSUS G. BYRNE
Was it always the aim of The Gerry Ryan Show to go after Gay Byrne's audience?
Audience has always been a sensitive thing in a multi-broadcasting organisation like RTE and there's a kind of gentleman's agreement that you never say that you're poaching somebody else's audience. But quite obviously we're going after the same people that are mowing the lawn, walking to work, washing the dishes and eating their breakfast as Gay is.
Between myself and Gay, there is a lot of Gay/Gerry hopping at the moment – people listening to parts of Gay, they get bored, they listen to Gerry, the don't like Gerry, he's got a bit rude, they go back over to Gay. But we've had a steady increase in the 15 to 54 bracket in Dublin. And, y'know – that's pretty phenomenal.
And was that a particular source of pleasure to you, because he's obviously your main competitor?
No, it's not a source of pleasure because we didn't set out to beat Gay. What we set out to be was as successful as possible. Now, of course, he's the yardstick by which you can measure success, but I think it's a serious danger, in any publishing field, to decide that you're going to beat somebody else – because if you don't beat them well then you're a failure. Overall Gay still has the majority of the listeners and yet we still consider ourselves very, very successful.
Do you see Joe Duffy as having been brought into the Gay Byrne show to deliberately combat your programme?
No, I think Joe does what he does off his own bat. I think Joe is a very determined young man, he's got a lot of high hopes, he's very ambitious. I think he wants to broadcast independently in his own right and he's going the right way about it.
You didn't feel there was an element of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery in his joining the Gay Byrne Show?
I don't think Joe would be too happy to have it said he was imitating Gerry Ryan! But, sure, I would like to think that they have adopted some of our techniques – I mean, I'm gracious enough to say I stole a lot from them (laughs).
GERRY, RTE AND CENTURY RADIO
To move on to the independent opposition – did Century try to head-hunt you?
Century and all the other stations approached me and I was offered some phenomenal money by some of them – one station in particular offered me the controllership, a percentage of the advertising and a very large fee.
Do you want to name the station?
It was the station that subsequently became 98FM. Through Dave Heffernan this offer was made – he was doing their head-hunting at the time. I must admit I took a very serious look at them all, as did most of the more senior broadcasters in here and having considered things carefully, I decided that RTE was by far the more sensible place to stay in the interm.
Why become a guinea-pig in a non-tested area? I couldn't understand the logic of my own executive producer Pat Dunne leaving to join Century where he ended up producing Emer Woodfull – the rest is history. I couldn't understand at the time Mark Cagney and Marty Whelan leaving – I don't understand why any of them left at that stage.
Well, obviously they decided to risk it.
That's all very well and business does involve a certain degree of risk, but I spent a lot of time analysing the situation, in the company of some fairly heavyweight minds I must admit – people like James Hickey from Stokes, Kennedy, Crowley – and the conclusion we came to was that this was not, financially, artistically or creatively the right time to go to any of these stations.
Even though in the short-term, at least, you would have been on much bigger money.
Yes, of course, but it's only a fool who sees only the short-term. Now more recently I've had talks with Oliver Barry and, without doubt, I think Century will eventually find their niche and they will eventually get their share of the market – and I think maybe then, sometime in January or February, would be the time to start considering offers or other possibilities.
And I don't say that to send a message to RTE, because I'm not thinking of going anywhere at the moment. What I'm saying is that if I am to consider, from a business point of view, looking at any other operation to see its viability and to see whether I would have anything to offer to it – sometime in 1991 would be the time.
How did you feel about the Today Tonight programme on Century?
I thought it was a mistake – I'm not sure how the Today Tonight team feel about it now. I would probably have reacted quite negatively if TV3 had been on air and they had an investigative report about 2FM or Radio One and it was conducted in the same manner as Today Tonight's was.
Again on the subject of RTE's response to the new opposition – what did you make of Marty Whelan losing his TV programmes when he moved to Century?
Well, I think that's par for the course. In the commercial world he would have lost more than his TV gigs – they'd have taken his pencil from him y'know (laughs). Quite obviously a rival station isn't going to promote one of their competitors and having Marty on television would have been promoting a competitor. The TV show was there first, TV's a much more powerful medium than radio, and to continue pouring the resources that they were into Marty Whelan as a television star would have been ludicrous on RTE's behalf.
Now TV3 will be up and running quite soon, hopefully, and Marty will take his rightful place in TV3, and maybe, two or three years down the line, when the whole thing evens out, he'll be back on RTE television, because by then it'll be one giant melting pot. Things have changed a lot – the kind of protectionism which is in place at the moment won't be there.
But is it protectionism you condone?
It's protectionism that I contractually excluded myself from. If TV3 was on now, I would be quite capable, contractually, of taking part in a show there.
Do you have a feeling of loyalty to RTE?
Yes, I am loyal to RTE. Because RTE has been very good to me. RTE has an austere image in the public's mind. It's an authority, first of all and people don't like authorities, it's august and it's governmental – so it doesn't have good PR. Now, I've worked here for a decade and I've done well out of RTE. RTE have been kind to me, they've treated me fairly, so I am loyal to them in return.
TV OR NOT TV?
In terms of your career ambitions, have you considered looking beyond Ireland?
No interest in it whatsoever. I was offered a quiz show on Sky and I think it would have catapulted me to millionaire status and international fame.
But at considerable cost to your pride (laughs)
I know, yeah. It was called "Stick It Up Your Bum" or something (laughs). But no, I've no interest in all that. I've enough money now – could always do with a bit more! – a healthy family, a nice new house, and I don't really see the necessity for much more.
But you have ambitions in television here?
There's a lot of TV coming up. We're filming "School Around The Corner" at the moment. That's back!
You're the new Paddy Crosbie!
Yeah, but it's a new version of "School Around The Corner" and it's going to be very, very exciting 'cos it's not so much the funny incidents but more what's actually going on in the children's heads. It's the most difficult work I've ever done – a lot of homework went into it. It'll be a prime-time Sunday television show. It'll be a mixture between entertainment and a serious look at children. I hope in 25 years time, people will be able to take out the tapes and go "that's what kids were like then".
So far your TV work, as opposed to your radio work, has been almost resolutely light-hearted.
Because TV is dangerous. There are so many people in this country who've almost decapitated themselves career-wise with television shows.
Yeah, I know! (Laughs) I'm very careful with it. The chat-shows I've avoided like the plague. I mean, everything is there from "The Undersea World of Gerry Ryan" to "Gerry Ryan Drops His Trousers". I think that's the most dangerous area of the lot. And the night I introduce The Gerry Ryan Chat-Show is well down the line and it'll be a very, very well-researched and well-planned operation.
Have you ever thought you'd like to do The Late Late Show in its present format?
I think I could do The Late Late, but I don't think I could do it the way Gay does it, or as well as Gay. And I think it would probably be a stupid idea for me to do it because it's what people expect. Y'know (affects gossipy voice) "Gay will go on holidays and Gerry will fill in, that's what's going to happen some year for a couple of weeks and then Gay will die and Gerry will take over" – that's not going to happen. When Gay goes, it all goes, right. It'll be the end of an era.