Craig Doyle prepares to get sociable
The Panel may have gone, but Craig Doyle, its most recent host, is back on RTE with a new laid-back, banter-filled, late-night show entitled The Social.
After a couple of surprisingly successful stints at the helm of RTE Two’s The Panel, Craig Doyle is embarking on a new project as host of The Social – a late night RTE series that will see the UPC-promoting presenter joined by a series of guests to popping round to Craig’s gaff (well, his fictional TV gaff…) to discuss the burning issues of the day in a laid-back and hopefully humorous way.
We met up for a quick chat with Craig to get an idea of what lies in store.
JOE: From what the promotional material for The Social says, this new show of yours should be right up our street?
Craig Doyle: Big time. You can talk about what the sets going to look like, what the show’s going to be called and that sort of stuff, but the key thing is the attitude of the show, and the attitude is the sort of stuff that the audience liked, and I certainly liked, from The Panel and the stuff the audience responded well to on the RTE Saturday night chatshow I hosted last year.
The stuff they probably didn’t like from the chatshow was me going “So when’s your book out?” but they did seem to like it if I said stuff like “I thought your book was a bit boring, but you don’t seem boring…”. I think people respond best to the idea of having a proper pub chat rather than going through the well-worn motions that go with people going on a chatshow to promote their new product.
JOE: Will you be bringing out a hitherto unseen dark side?
Craig: At times yes. There’ll be an edginess. I don’t think everything in the world is lovely, but with a lot of shows you have to put on a smile and pretend that everything in the world is lovely. In this show I’m going to be able to say it as it is.
JOE: So it won’t be a light entertainment show that you’d watch with your granny and the kids on a Saturday night, then?
Craig: No, it’ll be a show for adults. There’ll be a lot of fun but we won’t be holding back. I’m sure it’ll be light at times, but it’ll be dark at others.
JOE: What kind of guests can we expect?
Craig: Hopefully some big ones, although the main thing is that they need to be interesting and willing to get involved with what we’re doing on the show. My favourite guest on The Panel was Wolfman, the guy who lived and communicated with a pack of wolves, so I’d like to see people like him.
JOE: In the past on JOE.ie we’ve spoken to your former Panel cohorts Andrew Maxwell and Neil Delamare and they’ve both been highly complementary about you and about the way you slotted in as host of The Panel.
Craig: That’s good of them to say. They’re great guys. It was a great show to work on and we all became good friends. They’ll be involved in this show in some way. I’m sure of that.
JOE: Does the birth of The Social mean the end of The Panel?
Craig: Yes, for the time being. But I don’t think it’s a show that will ever go away fully. There’ll be a place for it again, but I think it had reached a point where something new was needed. There’ll be elements of The Panel in The Social – especially in terms of having a discussion about what the man on the street is talking about and what’s trending on Twitter. There’ll be that news-based element, but it will only be one part of it.
JOE: Hosting The Panel must have been helpful in preparing you for doing the more edgy stuff you’re planning to do on your new show…
Craig: Absolutely. Before The Panel I think that, image-wise, people thought I was a boring bastard who just did sport and travel shows.
As a presenter you shouldn’t be the focus of attention on a sports programme. Your job is to bring the elements together and maintain a flow where the focus on the sport itself. If you are then you’re doing something wrong. Look at the criticism that Match of the Day is getting these days because there’s too much focus being put on the panel in the studio rather than on the games of live football.
With entertainment shows it’s different, because in order to entertain you need to show much more of your personality. I think people watching The Panel were surprised that I had an opinion and probably found me to be a bit darker than they expected. But when I’m not presenting a travel show or promoting something in a TV ad then that’s how I am.
I loved The Panel. Being on it was so bloody liberating for me as a presenter. We’d be discussing stuff like shaving your balls, or having a dig at someone who we’d seen being an arsehole on TV. It was great to do. It did its best ever figures that it ever reached last year. But even so, it was never able to reach the figures that it maybe could have reached.
I’m not expecting The Social to get huge figures straight away, as it takes years for a show to resonate with people and for it to bed in, but I’m look forward to having the craic with my guests each week and hopefully the viewers will have the craic too.
The Social, every Tuesday from 15 November at 10.30pm on RTE Two.