Brendan O'Connor on the set of his show: bizarre incidents

Nearly 50,000 viewers tuned out of Brendan O'Connor's new Saturday night talkshow after just one week, viewing figures show.

Eight days ago, 475,000 people watched O'Connor's show, down 46,000 on the previous week.

Tubridy Tonight was regularly commanding audiences of over 700,000 in that slot at its height, but the Sunday Independent journalist is well off those figures, despite having been tipped to better them.

The show has been criticised after bizarre incidents involving guests including Michael Barrymore, who two weeks ago imitated a chicken on the show and baffled viewers when he claimed he was the real father of popular Lucan duo Jedward.

On the show, he said: "I happen to know their mother very well, extremely well.

"Seriously, how old are the boys? Aged about 18 now... I can't remember. I send them maintenance money. I don't wish to shock, I know the father is sitting there wishing they were his."

He then went on to kiss the twins' mother who was sitting in the audience.

Barrymore also later said that he is also the leader of the sheep society, bursting into a parody of the Charles Aznavour song 'She': "Sheep, may be the face I can't regret. Baaaa. Maybe the mirror of regret. Baaaaa."

According to one industry source, "Brendan is not at his natural or most comfortable as a chat-show presenter. It might not be the best role for him.

"Having said that, the Saturday-night TV slot is a prime entertainment slot, and finding guests of a celebrity status is difficult in Ireland. It seems to be the same people doing the rounds time and time again."

O'Connor is now half way through his eight-week slot as a presenter, and it is understood BBC presenter Craig Doyle has filmed a pilot with a view to taking over for eight weeks after the current spell.

An RTé source said the second period would be slightly different to the format of the show presented by O'Connor, in an effort to "liven up" the format.

"The first eight weeks were produced by RTé, but it is thought the next slot will be independently produced and will have a different format. It is being mooted that it will be more interactive, something along the lines of the Generation Game.

"The fact that it will be independently produced means it will have a whole different area of expertise."