RTE celebrates 50 years of The Late Late Show

The longest-running chat show in the world, The Late Late Show, will celebrate its 50th birthday later this week.

Presented by current host Ryan Tubridy former anchors Gay Byrne and Pay Kenny will return to the RTE One studio to celebrate the chat show milestone. RTE also promises a large gathering of well known Irish personalities to celebrate the five decades of star names and television memories.

The night will be marked by an eclectic mix of musical acts, comedy and entertainment. The audience will also comprise of people who have made The Late Late show the most successful and watched chat show in Ireland over the last 50 years. – RTE say.

Originally conceived as a short filler programme for the summer schedule in 1962 on the then-fledgeling Irish broadcaster Telefís Éireann, The Late Late Show has gone on to become an Irish institution and today is still the most popular programme on television in Ireland.

The Late Late Show is a unique concept in the television world, offering a two hour live show each Friday from September to May comprising a mix of some of the biggest celebrities the world has to offer, mixed with uniquely Irish stories, people and talking points of the day. – RTE add.

A glance at the past guest list reads like a who’s who of contemporary history: Twiggy, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Oliver Reid, Frank Carson, Elton John, U2, President Mary Robinson, Colin Farrell, Bishop Eamon Casey, Terry Keane, Peter Sellers, Bob Geldof, Westlife, Paul Newman, Jack Charlton, President Mary McAleese, Jerry Springer, Graham Norton, Take That (pictured bottom middle), Cliff Richard, Sonia O’Sullivan, Rod Stewart, Michael Parkinson, Roy Keane… the list goes on and on.

Pat Kenny became the host of The Late Late Show in September 1999, taking over from Gay Byrne. Gay was the programme’s first presenter in 1962, and apart from one season when Frank Hall presented the show while Gay worked with the BBC, it was a continuous run of almost 37 years. Gay continues to present special programmes for RTE and has hosted an award-winning radio programme across Ireland.

The Late Late Show has consistently generated ‘TV magic’ down through the years whether it was launching the careers of singers Ronan Keating, The Corrs, Stephen Gately and comedian Brendan O’Carroll (pictured above, right) or capturing the mood of a nation such as specials to mark September 11th or the Omagh bombing.

After a decade in charge, Pat decided it was time to move on with Ryan Tubridy taking over the hot seat of The Late Late Show in September 2009. Ryan’s first season as host proved a big success for RTE with ratings increasing for the slot.

The show was for many years screened in the UK on Channel 4 and is notorious for the 1993 television debut of Irish heartthrobs Boyzone and the bizarre dance routine they unleashed on an unsuspecting audience, such was this televisual disaster Gay was bold enough to suggest it was also Boyzone’s last-ever appearance on TV.

There have been a number of other, more serious, controversies over the years including a ‘facelift’ procedure featuring on the show, a Bishop condemning the series as ‘filth’ in 1966 when Gay asked one of the participants a mild recollection from her wedding night and Lesbian Nuns caused an outcry when appearing on the show in 1985.  Just a couple of many incidents over the years that have had some sections of the Irish viewing public and newspapers in a spin.

It was a less taboo issue that ended up covering the Irish newspapers in 1997 when Joshua Duffy was left stunned as he watched The Late Late Show and Gay admire a beautifully restored chair. ‘Restorer’ Siubhan Maloney beamed with pride as she carried off a winners’ prize from the show’s antique competition.

To his horror, Joshua realised he, Gay, RTE and the Irish viewing public had been duped by the Donegal faker. The row raged on as a furious Siubhan accused Joshua of being a “consummate liar”, provoking legal action as the renowned antique restorer stood by his claim. A media frenzy ensued as journalists attempted to uncover the true identity of the chair restorer. The story proved of such interest it later featured in an RTE documentary.

The Late Late Show 50th Anniversary Special Friday 1st June 2012 9:35pm on RTÉ One


  • The earliest known footage of The Late Late Show is from 1965 and is a short film segment showing the programme in production, only a handful of episodes exist from the early years of the programme.
  • The mainstay theme tune is the instrumental version of To Whom It Concerns by Chris Andrews, best known for his single Yesterday Man.
  • Keeping with the theme tune the opening to the programme started with the introduction “To whom it concerns, this is the Late Late Show with Gay Byrne.”

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5 Replies to “RTE celebrates 50 years of The Late Late Show”

  1. They need to get rid of the host! He talks over people. He clearly does not listen to what they’re saying as he’s too concerned with timing. Open ya ears ya oaf! He cuts people off when they’re staying interesting things that should be picked up upon. The 50th show just showed how inept he is alongside Gaye Burns!

  2. It has got to the point now where even Graham Norton would be a better presenter for the Late Late Show than the current host who would be better suited to reading news… on the radio.

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