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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
John Kierans & Cathal Ryan

Noel Kelly claims Operation Transformation was his 'idea' as RTE responds with clarification on TV rights

Agent to the stars Noel Kelly has claimed he came up with the idea for the hit RTÉ show Operation Transformation while being grilled at Tuesday’s Media Committee.

During the second round of Oireachtas committee meetings on Tuesday amid the ongoing RTÉ pay scandal, Ryan Tubridy and his agent Noel Kelly were questioned about payments made by the broadcaster to Tubridy between 2017 and 2022 where it emerged Noel counts Operation Transformation as his idea.

The health and fitness programme has been running on the national broadcaster since 2008 and has proved popular among audiences both on screen and on radio

READ MORE: Key points from Ryan Tubridy's explosive testimony so far

Almost 50 minutes into the Kerry Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin took his turn to question the pair in relation to the scandal, thanking them for coming in and adding that Tubridy “personified RTÉ” and that Tuesday’s hearing was important in terms of “establishing the facts” and that “no one was out to get anyone”.

First, the TD asked Kelly about his relationship with RTÉ executives over the years, to which he replied that it would always be “healthy” and that it was “RTÉ’s job to get the best deal they can” and his job “to get the best deal he can”.

When asked if there were executives that were afraid of him he said: “How could you be afraid of me, all five foot six of me.”

The TD then bluntly asked Kelly if he had threatened to sue RTÉ in the past, to which Kelly stated: “Sue them? No.”

RTE's star presenter Ryan Tubridy (left) and his agent Noel Kelly giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee (Oireachtas TV/PA Wire)

However, Griffin then clarified that he was speaking about Operation Transformation, asking Ryan’s agent: “Were there ever any discussions surrounding Operation Transformation?”

Kelly replied: “Oh, Operation Transformation, that was an independent production company, it wasn’t RTÉ”.

Griffin continued: “But did you pitch the idea to RTÉ first?” Kelly responded: “Yes that was my idea”.

However, Griffin followed this up to ask if he “subsequently threatened them with legal action?”

He explained that he came up with the idea for “Operation Transformation for Gerry (Ryan) and an independent production company tried to say it was their idea.”

Not leaving the topic, Griffin asked: “How did you settle the issue with RTÉ, how did it finish?"

Kelly replied: “We settled with the production company.” But did not divulge the figure, simply stating: “It wasn’t very much”. He was further grilled before saying due to a confidentiality agreement, he could not reveal the figure.

This evening, RTE issued details of Noel Kelly’s involvement in Operation Transformation and confirmed he doesn’t own the rights to the smash hit fitness show.

His name appeared on the credits for each episode over the years leading to speculation that it was his original concept and that he owed the rights for it.

RTE stated: "It’s with a credit in relation to Operation Transformation. Operation Transformation is an independent production, produced by Vision Independent Productions.

“It is part based on an item which originally ran on The Gerry Ryan Radio Show prior to its transition to a television, radio and online offering in 200&.

“The format was expanded and brought to television by VIP and the television format is wholly owned by VIP and RTE.

“Because of Noel Kelly’s role in the origination of the radio item, the credits on the television show include the credit ‘Initial Radio concept created by Noel Kelly.’”

RTE said it would be willing to disclose the contractual elements which underpins this, but this could not be disclosed without the agreement of NK Management.

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