Oliver Callan

Oliver Callan (born 27 December 1980) is an Irish vocal and performance satirist and impressionist known as the creator of Callan's Kicks, Nob Nation and for frequent appearances on The Saturday Night Show. He rose to fame during the 2000s when his daily Nob Nation slots aired on RTÉ Radio. His Callan's Kicks creation on RTÉ Radio 1 has been described by The Sunday Independent as "the best comedy show the national broadcaster has ever produced".[1]

Oliver Callan
Born (1980-12-27) 27 December 1980
Inniskeen, County Monaghan, Ireland
MediumRadio sketches, TV sketches, ridiculing of politicians and other public figures
Notable works and rolesNob Nation, "Callan's Kicks"

Nob Nation and Callan's Kicks parody political, social and cultural personalities, with Callan performing as the characters featured on the show. His radio broadcasts have led to the release of regular podcasts, several CDs and appearances on prime time television programmes such as The Saturday Night Show on RTÉ One. He has also incurred the wrath of several politicians and the Kerry GAA star Paul Galvin for his impressions. He is well known in Ireland and the UK for skewering celebrities and politicians on radio.[2] His acerbic wit and talent for mimicry has made him a household name, according to the Irish Independent.[3]

Early life

Callan is from Inniskeen in County Monaghan. He grew up on a farm and has a degree in journalism from Dublin City University.

Callan initially worked as a newsreader on Today FM where he performed on Gift Grub as Enda Kenny,[4] he later began to perform sketches on The Gerry Ryan Show on RTÉ 2fm . He wrote and produced almost 900 Nob Nation sketches on his own for the Gerry Ryan Show over three years.

Nob Nation

Nob Nation was Callan’s first foray into comedy and was a sketch insert on The Gerry Ryan Show from 2007 until the presenter’s death in 2010. Nob Nation even produced a comedy sketch just days after Gerry Ryan’s death in tribute to the broadcaster.[5]

Nob Nation was reported in the Sunday Independent on 20 January 2008 as being Ireland's most popular podcast of the previous year, with figures showing a total of 736,711 downloads on RTÉ.ie between April and December 2007. Comparatively, RTÉ Radio 1's most popular[6] radio show, Morning Ireland, was second with 730,965 podcast downloads. Nob Nation was also frequently in the top five of the iTunes chart.[7]

His impersonations of Eamon Dunphy and David Norris led to a warning from the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BAI) in July 2008. The BAI deemed his impersonations "offensive to homosexuals" and said they "promoted binge drinking".[8]

Following some complaints about Callan's portrayal of Taoiseach Brian Cowen "swaying and snorting in booze-filled sing-songs about his difficulties in office", the popularity of the slot "simply exploded" according to RTÉ, with over 250,000 hits each month and making up almost a third of all downloads from RTÉ.ie.[9] Callan's portrayal of Enda Kenny as cross-dresser "Dame Enda" has drawn reactions from Fine Gael and Enda Kenny himself.[10]

The first Nob Nation CD, containing twenty of Callan's sketches,[11] was released in Ireland in November 2007 and went platinum. Those parodied on the compilation include politicians Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny, former Republic of Ireland national football team manager Steve Staunton, broadcaster Gay Byrne and newsreaders Bryan Dobson and Colm Murray.[12] The album debuted at number five on the Irish Albums Chart ahead of Amy Winehouse and Bruce Springsteen on 9 November 2007, according to IRMA, the official chart tracking body in Ireland.[13] A second compilation, Nob Nation 2: The Recession Album, was released on 7 November 2008. Nob Nation 3 was released in the Irish Daily Mail in November 2009. The fourth compilation in the series, Nob Nation 4: The Hangover, was released on 12 December 2010 in the Irish News of the World.

In August 2010, a new website www.nobnation.com showcasing comedy videos and purportedly uncensored versions of Nob Nation podcasts appeared. A number of Sunday newspapers reported that the website featured controversial depictions of Brian Cowen in a bar along with Judge Gargle, a fictional character loosely based on a high-profile Irish judge.

Callan once rang Charlie Bird and, impersonating Enda Kenny, said there was a story about to break about Kenny buying women's underwear. Bird thought it was real.[14]

Callan's Kicks/The Saturday Night Show

Callan now works on Callan’s Kicks, a sketch show on RTÉ Radio One and on RTÉ One television.[15]

The radio version of the show has led to controversy over his portrayal of Ireland's President Michael D. Higgins and his aide Kevin McCarthy which led to RTÉ producers ordering Callan to tone down on.[16]

The Callan's Kicks TV spin-off debuted on New Year's Eve 2013. Callan Kicks the Year proved a hit with viewers on RTÉ One television, and its ratings beat Christmas specials by rivals The Mario Rosenstock Show and Irish Pictorial Weekly.[17]

The show once again proved controversial in its portrayal of the President and his aide leading the Sunday World to publish a front page story on the programme before it aired.[18]

Callan's Kicks debut TV series followed in July 2014 and it too proved to be a ratings success with over 400,000 viewers tuning in each Friday night, beating Eastenders, Prime Time, Fair City and Saturday Night with Miriam.[19]

A second Christmas special on RTÉ One Television followed in December 2014. Callan Kicks the Year featured Dobbo and other characters parodying events of the year like the Irish Water, Rehab and Cronyism scandals; President Michael D. Higgins' state visit to the United Kingdom and also debuted new characters, Bono and the Gleesons.

In October 2011, Callan[20][21] was allegedly assaulted by Kerry GAA star Paul Galvin late at night in Kehoe's Pub, Central Dublin. Among witnesses to the alleged incident were a Government Minister, a TD, a senator and several journalists. One witness alleged Galvin called Callan a "fucking cunt".[22] Callan later described how Galvin approached him with "his eyes bulging" and looking "crazy".[23] The incident was investigated by the Garda Síochána.[24] The media speculated on the reason behind the alleged incident, reporting that Callan had recently mimicked Galvin asking Taoiseach Enda Kenny to man-up by giving him a body-wax on radio.'[25] and that Galvin had texted Callan before an appearance on The Saturday Night Show in relation to "gay jibes" the satirist had directed at him.[26] It was eventually revealed that Galvin had complained (or not complained at all)[27] to RTÉ after what he described as "the most excruciating night of my life" at home on his sofa between his parents in Kerry watching The Saturday Night Show when Callan referred to Galvin's "years spent in the closet".[28]

Callan impersonated Galvin again on radio the week after the alleged assault.[29] Callan then appeared on The Saturday Night Show for an unprecedented second consecutive week[30][31] to defend himself against accusations of homophobia[32][33][34] by coming out on live television.[35][36][37][38]


Callan performed five sell-out nights live at Dublin's Olympia Theatre between September 2008 and May 2013.[39] Paul Galvin featured in that live show along with over fifty other characters.[40] He has also performed shows nationwide and appeared in viral adverts for Lidl, The Irish Sun and Paddy Power.


  1. O'Hanlon, Eilis. "Fancy a giggle? 'Callan's Kicks' always hits spot". http://www.independent.ie/. Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 August 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  2. Kinser, Jeremy (31 October 2011). "Comic Comes Out on Live TV: "I'm Not a Homophobe, I'm Gay"". The Advocate. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  3. O'Connell, Edel (28 October 2011). "Callan no stranger to controversy". Irish Independent. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  4. Egan, Barry. "Interview: Oliver Callan! The boy who wanted more". http://www.independent.ie/. Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 August 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  5. Callan, Oliver. "NOB NATION TRIBUTE TO GERRY RYAN". Youtube. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  6. Bray, Allison (14 November 2008). "Tubridy rides crest of airwaves". Irish Independent. Retrieved 17 November 2008.
  7. Doohan, Niamh (20 January 2008). "RTÉ may cash in on podcast success". Irish Independent. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  8. Doohan, Niamh (20 July 2008). "BCI fails to see funny side with warning over radio ads". Sunday Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 20 July 2008. Broadcaster Eamon Dunphy and Senator David Norris had given permission to the charity to have their voices mimicked by Callan for the adverts.
  9. Corcoran, Jody (18 January 2009). "RTÉ's biting satire ruffles feathers of Cowen circle". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 18 January 2009.
  10. Sheehan, Maeve (19 December 2010). "FG riled by RTÉ's 'Dame Enda' parody". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  11. "NOB NATION - As heard on RTÉ Radio's Gerry Ryan Show" Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. CD World.ie. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  12. "Nob Nation - Oliver Callan". RTÉ. 8 November 2007. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  13. "Irish Charts Week 45 - 2007 Top 50 Albums". IRMA. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  14. Brunker, Amanda (18 August 2008). "'You can call this piece, Brunker Hangs Out Her Nobs, or Nobs and Knockers!'". Sunday World. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
  15. O'Hanlon, Eilis. "Fancy a giggle? 'Callan's Kicks' always hits spot". http://www.independent.ie. Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 August 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  16. Horan, Niamh. "RTE asks comic Oliver Callan to tone down sketches on President and aide Kevin". http://www.independent.ie/. Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 August 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  17. "Oliver Callan's debut series takes over 'Late Late' slot for summer". http://www.independent.ie/. Irish Independent. External link in |website= (help)
  18. Fetherston, Neil. "Higgins and celebs get a kicking from Callan on TV show". http://www.sundayworld.com/. Sunday World. Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  19. "Oliver Callan kicks off new RTE series with massive ratings". goss.ie. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  20. O'Keeffe, Cormac (21 October 2011). "Galvin in pub row with Nob Nation crew". Irish Examiner. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  21. Lally, Conor (21 October 2011). "Galvin and RTÉ mimic 'had words'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  22. Foy, Ken; Doyle, Kevin (20 October 2011). "Galvin attacks TV comic Callan in pub". Evening Herald. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  23. Swords, Warren (23 October 2011). "I was terrified: Comedian tells of assault by Irish football star who didn't like his impersonation". Irish Mail on Sunday. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  24. Brady, Tom; Sweeney, Ken (21 October 2011). "Gardai probe GAA star Galvin's pub bust-up with RTE impersonator Oliver Callan: Footballer clashes with RTE star over Seoige sketch". Irish Independent. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  25. "Did Paul Galvin nut impersonator Oliver Callan last night?". JOE. 20 October 2011. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  26. Foy, Ken (27 October 2011). "Garda anger at 'time wasting' in Galvin-Callan bar bust-up". Evening Herald. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  27. Sweeney, Ken (24 October 2011). "Galvin 'has not made complaint to RTE'". Irish Independent. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  28. Horan, Niamh (23 October 2011). "Comic's gay skit was excruciating complains Galvin". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  29. "Audio: Oliver Callan gets his own back on 'humourless' Galvin". JOE. 24 October 2011. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  30. Finn, Melanie; Butler, Laura (28 October 2011). "Callan begs RTE for chance to explain Galvin row". Evening Herald. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  31. "Domhnall Gleeson for Saturday Night Show". RTÉ. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  32. Salerno, Rob (24 October 2011). "Irish fashionista footballer pleads gay panic, demands apology from comedian". Xtra!. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  33. "Callan defends homophobe accusations". RTÉ. 30 October 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  34. Gray, Stephen (31 October 2011). "Homophobia question prompts Irish radio comedian to come out". Pink News. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  35. Tevlin, Rory (31 October 2011). "Comic accused of being homophobic admits he's gay on live TV". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  36. Horan, Niamh (30 October 2011). "I'm not homophobic I'm a homosexual, reveals comic Oliver Callan". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  37. "Oliver Callan, Comedian On Ireland's 'Nob Nation' Radio Show, Denies Homophobia, Comes Out On Live Television". The Huffington Post. 31 October 2011. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  38. "Comic Oliver Callan Says He's Gay And Doesn't Give A Sh*t". On Top Magazine. 31 October 2011. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  39. "If Paul Galvin's looking for Oliver Callan, here's where he can find him". JOE. 25 November 2011. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  40. Finn, Melanie (26 November 2011). "Callan has a go at Galvin in new show". Evening Herald. Retrieved 26 November 2011.

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