Lucy Kennedy: 'We are a talented little nation'
By Louise Finn
“We are a talented little nation,” says Lucy Kennedy proudly, that’s the impression she came away with after filming for the upcoming Ireland’s Got Talent. It’s the first time the format has been produced here and Lucy says that although we’re a small country, we’re certainly not short on skills.
“I think people will be surprised at the variety. We’ve got a group of children dancing, next you might have an older woman singing, next you might have a magician or a trapeze artist, we literally saw everything.”
Lucy is taking up the role of presenter – as she says she is “Ant and Dec” – while Louis Walsh heads the judging panel of Michelle Visage, Denise Van Outen and Jason Byrne.
“Myself and Jason knew each other beforehand, from working in telly, but other than that we were five strangers put together. I was more excited than scared. But for me as the host/Ant and Dec, the pressure wasn’t on me as much. Whereas for them to gel, it’s imperative that the judges click and they did. They’re all totally different to each other, which is brilliant when you see the show.”
While some of Ireland’s particular talents are familiar to Louis and Jason, Lucy says that for Michelle from the US and Denise it was a bit of an eye opener.
“Michelle and Denise, their jaws, they were in shock at some of the Irish traditional dances and singing and performances and instruments and stuff. They were amazed at how good we are!”
Lucy says that careerwise, “It was quite a big project for me to take on, the biggest to date, so there was apprehension,” but that it didn’t take long for her to settle in.
“I was a little bit nervous the night before day one. And then, after five minutes side of stage, I turned to the camera and went ‘my god I feel like I’ve been doing this my whole life.’ You know in your heart when something works.”
One of the reasons that Lucy thinks she was perfect for the role is that, what you see is what you get, there’s no filter on her reactions or emotions.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say I laughed heartily a few times side of stage in shock at what had just walked out.”
On the flip side she says, “I kind of cry with excitement, I am an emotional person… I actually really care. In some ways it’s for us making good telly but for people who are auditioning this is life changing stuff and dreams. Watching somebody fulfil their dream on stage… is quite an emotional thing. Loads of tears, snot everywhere.”
What radiates from Lucy is the vibe that making the series was great craic, she says that everyone got on and that it all just seems to click when they’re together. She tells me a funny story from backstage when she was in a holding room with the judges and needed someone to mind her third child – baby Jess – for a few minutes.
“I said ‘look can somebody just mind Jess?’ So Louis said, ‘I’ll mind it…’ I went, ‘First thing’s first it’s not an it it’s a she, and she is Jess. Do you have any experience with babies?’ He said, ‘We’ll be fine, we’ll be fine.’ Off I went, fifteen minutes later I came back and Jess was asleep. Louis Walsh put her to sleep. I obviously made a joke going ‘you must have told her one of your really interesting stories…’ Which he laughed at and slagged me off. Who knew it, Uncle Louis put Jess to sleep!”
When she returned to work last year after having Jess Lucy says that she’d planned for a bit of calmer pace. But, with the great reception of Living With Lucy and then her moving straight on to Ireland’s Got Talent, it wasn’t to be.
“What is going on? I was hoping to ease back into things. But it was like, boom, in your face, you’ve had your child, big deal, move on now get on the telly. But it was great!”
Living with Lucy was definitely one of the most talked about shows of 2017, the presenter says she thinks part of the success is down to what she calls nosiness.
“I want to see somebody’s house. I love it… I like to see what’s in their fridge, I like to see what pyjamas they wear, I like to see what shampoo they use. I think it works so well in Ireland because we’re naturally nosey. I like knowing, do celebrities look shocking first thing in the morning? Yes they do. They look just like us, they all need the hair and the makeup as anyone does.”
One of the most widely discussed episodes of the show was Lucy’s stint living with talking head Katie Hopkins, which kicked off a bit of controversy.
“I had to take a photo of me and her as part of the programme and once I Tweeted that pic people were going mad.” She says it was the first time she’d ever gone to live with someone knowing in advance that she didn’t like them. The stint in Katie’s house didn’t change her mind.
“I came out thinking what I thought, she didn’t change my mind because her views were still the same. Part of me was hoping maybe she was doing it for publicity and that she didn’t actually believe. But she does, I think she does believe these extreme views. There were times where I saw her as anybody else; she’s a mum of three, she works in same business, she’s happily married. On paper we’ve a lot in common, in reality we’re chalk and cheese.”
Lucy says she felt this was an important thing to do, not only to challenge herself but to also use the show as a medium to question the likes of Hopkins’ extreme beliefs.
“There is a light shone in a dark corner and I think people feel more comfortable boxing off somebody and saying ‘I don’t like them’ without finding out why. It’s getting behind the perception and finding out whether the perception is right or wrong.”
Last year we named Lucy our Celebrity Mum of the Year 2017, and I have to commend her for wearing the sash she won to Dickie Rock’s house on the show.
“Dickie was going on and on about how successful he was… when I knew we were going to sit down and delve into that subject, I thought, ‘Right, but do you have this mate?’ It turns out he doesn’t have a sash from Woman’s Way. He was very confused and the funniest bit was he didn’t even acknowledge it, that made it even funnier. He just looked at it and continued talking, he was too polite to ask why the hell I was wearing a sash.”
There’s still two episodes of the show to air, two to film and then Lucy says it’s back into series three. But Lucy doesn’t give the impression that she wants to pace the slow, if anything she’s keen to keep going at full speed.
“My New Year’s resolution was less talk more action. Because I am literally chock-a-block every day while juggling three children and a broken hoover. And yet, I just can because I love what I do, I’m doing a little bit of everything that I love, I’m very happy.”
A few weeks ago she cryptically Tweeted about a new project that many have speculated could be the return of The Podge and Rodge Show. Can Lucy give the game away about what else is coming down the line?
“I can’t tell you anything about it other than the fact that it is something that I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time and it may not be TV or radio… Very interesting. Just another little string to my bow, as they say.” We can’t wait to find out what Lucy is up to next.
Ireland’s Got Talent airs on TV3 February 3