Podge and Rodge:?'Will still be slating celebrities'

Puppet presenters Podge and Rodge are to become quizmasters when their late- night RTE programme returns in the autumn.

The Sunday Tribune has learned that in a move de­manded by station bosses, the duo will ditch Ballydung for a shiny set in a new quiz which airs in October.

Ambushing celebrities with the kind of put-downs human hosts would never dare to use, the pair were once compulsive viewing. However, by the end of last season, the joke had worn thin as had the number of personalities willing to go on the show, forcing RTE to rely on an increasing number of British B-list celebrities.

A station source said: "There was a definite sense that something had to change. Replacing the format of the show was the most obvious thing to do while having the same characters to bring back the same audience."

Another factor in the programme's overhaul was the loss of sidekick Lucy Kennedy to her own RTE chat show.

Despite a number of stand-ins, including former Off The Rails presenter Caroline Morahan, insiders say RTE didn't feel a satisfactory replacement had been found for Kennedy, who proved the perfect foil for Podge and Rodge's schoolyard humour. The station is considering whether a new presenter would feature alongside the puppet duo for future programmes.

But the put-downs are sure to continue as all the contestants on the new quiz will be well-known 'personalities'.

"Podge & Rodge will still be slating celebrities, only in the guise of a quiz rather than a chatshow," the RTE source added.

The twice-weekly programme will again be made by Double Z Productions, the company funded by former Dun Laoghaire art students Mick O'Hara and Ciaran Morrison and businessman Ronan McCabe.

The inventive team's first foray into television came in 1987 when they created alien duo Zig and Zag for RTE's Den. Since then, they have enjoyed sales of spin-off DVDs, CDs and live shows in Dublin's Vicar Street.