As RTÉ rings the changes for its newscasters with Bryan Dobson moving to Morning Ireland and Keelin Shanley and Caitríona Perry taking over as the new presenters of Six One News, Gerry Breen looks back at some of the many people who have fronted RTÉ’s flagship news programmes down through the years.
When Bryan Dobson signed off from RTÉ’s Six One News for the final time, ahead of his move to RTÉ Radio, many people saw it as the end of an era. Bryan, who joined RTÉ as a reporter in 1987, had presented the One O’Clock News and Nine News before being appointed anchor of the Six One News in 1996. He presented the Six One News with a number of co-presenters over the years, including Una O’Hagan and Sharon Ni Bheóláin.
Bryan has long been a familiar face on our TV screens and was regarded by many as a member of the family. News readers and presenters occupy a special place in the annals of broadcasting. They tell the best stories and hundreds of thousands of people across Ireland tune in to listen to them every day.
Prior to 1961, Ireland didn’t have news readers, but in December of that year Charles Mitchel read the first bulletin, which was broadcast live to homes all over the country.
Charles was an actor. He was one of the founders of Irish Actors’ Equity and served as president of the Catholic Stage Guild, but he is best remembered as Telefís Éireann’s first chief newscaster.
It is interesting that his starting salary was £26 per week. He got the job in RTÉ in competition with 131 candidates. He won numerous awards during his more than twenty years with the station, and was the first RTÉ presenter to receive a Jacob’s Award.
Maurice O’Doherty was a news reader for the RTÉ News from 1966 until 1983. He was a contemporary of Charles Mitchell, and the two men helped to make the Nine O’Clock News the most watched news programme on Irish television.
Maurice began his broadcasting career by presenting music shows like ‘Hospital Requests’ and he became one of the most recognised faces in Irish television. However, the unscripted and humourous asides he sometimes slipped into his bulletins didn’t always go down too well with the RTÉ authorities.