Up Late With Rylan: nice guy, a work in progress

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Up Late With Rylan: nice guy, a work in progress

May 12, 2016 - 09:26
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Rylan in a taxi, Rylan on the phone, Rylan as a kid pretending to host his own chat show, Rylan as a kidult actually hosting his own chat show…

Up Late With Rylan

Rylan in a taxi, Rylan on the phone, Rylan as a kid pretending to host his own chat show, Rylan as a kidult actually hosting his own chat show…

That’s the first two minutes taken care of, only 43 to go. So bring on the B-list guests, fill the time with a spot of matchmaking, play a few parlour games, wheel out Charlotte Crosby… and somehow we’ll make it to the end.

As Channel 5 launched its bold four nights a week experiment Up Late With Rylan you could tell the host with the most (teeth) was nervous. Partly because he said so every ten seconds. But also because he’s clearly acutely aware that interviewing is not his strong suit. Jeremy Paxman he ain’t.

Shades of Frost-Nixon as TV’s favourite Essex boy mercilessly pressed Alesha Dixon for the release date of her new single. Tough questioning. And ruthless Rylan took no prisoners when he grilled genial Irish duo Brian McFadden and Keith Duffy about their upcoming Boyslife tour. Hard hitting stuff from the Dermot O’Leary school of interrogation.

But what Mr Clark-Neal lacks in journalistic technique, he more than makes up for with what Louis Walsh would call “the loikability factor”. He’s a nice guy who creates a relaxed fun atmosphere. And that’s why this  promising programme might just succeed.

My favourite bit so far was educated Rylan nodding sagely as Ab Fab actress Helen Lederer waffled on about “the nomenclature of certain words”. Like he knew what that meant.

And then he had to defend Gwyneth Paltrow after celebrity barmaid Charlotte took a break from pouring the drinks to pour scorn on the Hollywood star’s sweet potato sex toy advice. Simply add coconut oil and Bob’s your uncle.

“She’s a liar!” squealed Geordie Shore’s refined young lady. “I did it once with baby oil and got a terrible infection.” Too. Much. Information. Rylan: “She’s not a liar. We’ll get sued.” He’s a professional. Ms Crosby, not so much.

First rule of showbiz. Make sure your guests exist. Second rule of showbiz. Never book Keith Lemon.

While Celebrity Juice’s pretend person delivered his deafening text book lesson in scene-stealing smut and vulgarity, no one else got a look in. Finally, in desperation, Rylan yelled: “It’s my first night. Shut up! Shut up!” Fat chance.

As for the rest of it. The Rylan Relief slot was like a dullsville report on The One Show. He spent a day as a dinner lady at a junior school. No one knows why.

And the Bank Or Bin dating game was Take Me Out without the laughs. Until some bloke from Warwickshire (which Charlotte couldn’t pronounce) was mad keen to bank a girl called Jade… but she binned him. “Oh my God!” cried Rylan. “Jade, you bitch.” Hilarious.

Meanwhile, the Ferne McCann or McCann’t feature was as dreary as it was pointless. Using a spoon in her mouth, McCann she transfer several eggs from one bowl to another? Who McCares?

On the plus side, Keith Duffy’s Back Catalogue Bingo was a triumph. Phoning to book a spa while name-dropping 23 Boyzone song titles in 90 seconds. Very funny.

And if the 11pm time slot is past your bedtime, the amusingly garish set complete with turquoise sofa should keep you awake. Think Chatty Man meets Big Brother house.

With more than three weeks to go, there’s room for improvement. This is definitely a work in progress. But Rylan’s come a long way since his ludicrous antics as a tone deaf X Factor no-hoper. He’s a quick witted TV natural and there are encouraging signs he’ll grow into his latest role.

Although he did make one major mistake. “I would like to invite personally Janet Street Porter onto the show,” he declared. “Janet, you’re more than welcome.” Something to not look forward to.