Patrick Kielty faces his biggest test as host of The Late Late Show to date when he takes on his first Toy Show this Friday.
The comedian and television presenter has settled into the hot seat with a minimum of fuss after being hired in the heat of the saga over €345,000 in undeclared payments to his predecessor, Ryan Tubridy.
Mixing music, toys and special guests, the Toy Show is typically the most-viewed television programme of the year in Ireland and was watched by an estimated 1.6m people last year.
The bumper festive programme has been a money-spinner for RTÉ, but the organisation has cut its quote for a 30-second advertisement during the first break by €46,000 this year following six months of controversy.
News of the ad rate cut comes after the publication of RTÉ’s new strategy, which outlined plans to cut 400 jobs by 2028 and a pay cap ensuring nobody earns more than €250,000 salary made by director-general Kevin Bakhurst and Kielty.
Kielty announced in June that he had signed a three-year contract that would pay him €250,000 for 30 editions of the Late Late Show per year, which amounts to around €8,300 per episode.
“I’m being paid €250,000 per 30-show season. If additional shows are requested by RTÉ, they will be paid on a pro-rata basis,” he said.
The Co Down native said that he would waive expenses for flights and accommodation as he will commute from London to present the show. He was also paid €20,000 over the summer for pre-production and rehearsals.
Kielty’s €250,000 salary is significantly less than what RTÉ paid Tubridy in 2022 (€515,000) when he presented the Late Late and his Radio 1 weekday show.
Tubridy earned €752,950 with RTÉ in 2012 before a previous round of cost-cutting, which still paled in comparison with €950,000 earned by Pat Kenny in 2008.
Kielty also presents a two-hour mid-morning show for BBC Radio 5 Live every Saturday, but he did not make the 2022-23 list of the highest-paid presenters at the Beeb. The lowest-earning presenters to appear on the list made at least £178,000 per year.
Outside of his presenting work, Kielty is co-founder of Holywood-based Green Inc Film and Television with Stephen Stewart, who owns the company
The company, which also has a production office in Dublin, has made programmes such as Ireland’s Got Talent, CrimeCall and The Many Faces of… for British and Irish television.
The company listed accumulated profit of £196,400 in March 2022, along with current assets of €346,600, including €299,900 in cash and £44,700 owed by debtors.
It also listed £31,100 in freehold property, plus £14,000 in fixtures and fittings and £64,700 in equipment. The company has eight employees.
Kielty controls performing arts company Boxed Productions Ltd, which reported shareholder funds of £1.1m in March 2022.
The firm recorded tangible assets worth £52,600, plus £787,600 owed by debtors and a further £338,400 in cash at bank and hand.
Kielty also established television programming and broadcasting activities firm Pamanco Ireland Ltd in May, presumably as the vehicle through which he will be paid for hosting the Late Late.