The Late Late Show

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This article is about the Irish television chat show. For the American late-night talk show, see The Late Late Show (CBS TV series). For other uses, see Late Late Show (disambiguation).
The Late Late Show
The Late Late Show.png
The Late Late Show title card, 2009
Also known as The Late Late,[1][2] LLS[3][4]
Directed by Niamh White
Presented by
Theme music composer Chris Andrews, arranged by Brian Byrne[5]
Opening theme To Whom It Concerns (instrumental section) (1970s–1999, 2009–present)
Ending theme The Late Late Show by Nat King Cole (until 1999)
Country of origin Ireland
No. of seasons 50
Executive producer(s)
  • Michael Kealy
  • Jim Jennings
  • Larry Masterson[6]
Location(s) Studio 4
RTÉ Television Centre
Donnybrook, Dublin 4
Running time 120 minutes
Original channel RTÉ One
Original run 6 July 1962 (1962-07-06) – present
Related shows
External links

The Late Late Show, sometimes referred to as The Late Late,[1][2] or in some cases by the initialism LLS,[3][dead link][4][dead link] is the world's longest-running chat show by the same broadcaster.[7][8][9][10][11] Having kept the same name and format continuously, The Late Late Show is perceived as the official[12] flagship television programme of Irish national broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ).[13] The show is broadcast live for over two hours in front of a studio audience at 21.30 on Friday nights between September and May. It is regarded as an Irish television institution, even outside the country,[14] and is considered "Ireland's chat show".[15]

The show, conceived originally as a temporary summer filler programme for a niche audience on Saturday nights at 23.30,[13][16] began broadcasting on Friday nights in 1962 and was presented by Gay Byrne for over 35 years, on Saturday evenings for some of that time. For most of its early years, the show was broadcast live from Studio 1 in the RTÉ Television Centre at Donnybrook in Dublin. The original studio could only accommodate an audience of around 120.[17] It was first broadcast in colour from 1976 onwards. In 1995, it moved into the more spacious Studio 4, a studio specifically adapted to cater for this flagship production, and for Pat Kenny's former chat show, Kenny Live. The Late Late Show has on three occasions been broadcast externally, most recently from the Wexford Opera House on 5 September 2008.[18]

The Late Late Show was first broadcast on Friday, 6 July 1962 at 23.20.[19] Since then its format has remained largely the same, with music, chat, comedy and audience involvement in debates on topical issues. Its rapid rise to popularity led it to top the ratings consistently on RTÉ for forty years. Some sociologists[vague] have credited it with influencing Irish attitudes towards many issues, and directing social change in Ireland to construct current Irish societal norms. It averages 650,000 viewers per episode and is consistently RTÉ's highest-rated programme.[13]

Ryan Tubridy has been host since September 2009, having taken over from Pat Kenny. Under Tubridy, the show is now sponsored by the Quinn Group, having failed to secure a sponsor during Kenny's final season.[20] Audience ratings have increased since Tubridy took on the role of host,[21][22][23][24][25] with some statistics comparing him to Gay Byrne's time as host.[26] Kenny made an unexpected return as host on 1 February 2013, announced RTÉ on 30 January 2013.[27]

It was named "Favourite Irish TV Show" at the TV Now Awards on 22 May 2010.[28]


Host From To Notes
Date Age Date Age
Gay Byrne 6 July 1962 27 30 May 1964 29 Also simultaneously hosted Telefís Éireann's first gameshow called Jackpot
Frank Hall 19 September 1964 43 19 December 1964 43 Replacement host
Gay Byrne 2 January 1965 30 21 May 1999 64
Pat Kenny 10 September 1999 51 29 May 2009 61 Previously hosted Kenny Live
Ryan Tubridy 4 September 2009 36 Present Previously hosted Tubridy Tonight
Pat Kenny 1 February 2013 65 1 February 2013 65 Replacement host
Gerry Ryan hosted the show on 24 October 2008 as Pat Kenny took time out following his mother's death

The show has had three permanent hosts: Gay Byrne, Pat Kenny and Ryan Tubridy. Frank Hall deputised for Byrne for one season in the 1960s. There have also been at least four occasions on which another presenter has hosted the show. The first was when Byrne became unexpectedly and seriously ill. Frequent panelist Ted Bonner presented instead. The second time was towards the end of a show about feminism, when Byrne ushered a young Marian Finucane into his seat to present the rest of the show. On another occasion, radio broadcaster and former news reader, Andy O'Mahony, was brought in to replace Gay Byrne for a segment on the show to interview journalist Deirdre Purcell, who had ghost written Gay Byrne's autobiography.[29] The most recent time was on 24 October 2008, when Gerry Ryan was announced as guest presenter with less than 48 hours' notice, after Kenny's mother died suddenly.[30] Pat Kenny announced live on air during the 27 March 2009 edition of the show that he would quit the post at the end of the season.[31][32] On 11 May 2009, RTÉ announced that Ryan Tubridy would be the new host for the show.[33]


Few of the 1960s editions of The Late Late Show exist, as it was prohibitively expensive to use tape to record shows in those days.

Gay Byrne (1961–1968)[edit]

Logo during the Gay Byrne era

When the show was launched, its original presenter was Gay Byrne, a young Irish broadcaster who had been working with Granada Television in Britain and while there had become the first person to introduce The Beatles on television on People and Places.[19] The first episode of The Late Late Show was broadcast on 6 July 1962.[19] Byrne came from a family with long associations with the Guinness brewery Dublin, having worked there and having also worked as a sales man before getting involved in television. Byrne remained the presenter for thirty-seven years, retiring in 1999; as of September 2009, this represents the longest period that any one person has hosted a television chat show.

The show relied on two common formats. The first consisted of a series of interviews of celebrity guests. Most of these guests were Irish or British, and involved in the entertainment industry. The second focused on a defined topic, where a panel, and a studio audience got involved in a live discussion. This format tended to be far more weighty in content, with participants in the audience who were directly connected with the topic being discussed. Authority figures were open to criticism in a manner not evident in any other media outlet at the time.

Although the show began as a light summer "filler" in 1962, it soon became a forum for controversial opinion and debate. Topics such as divorce, contraception and a number of hitherto undiscussed areas were debated openly. Much of the population (Ireland was mainly rural and devoutly Roman Catholic) had no previous experience of television and were unprepared for The Late Late Show bringing such discussion into their homes. Indeed, politician Oliver J. Flanagan, whilst guesting on the show, claimed that there was "no sex in Ireland until Teilifís Éireann went on the air",[34] reflecting the greater openness which The Late Late Show seemed to have brought to Irish society and culture. The show appeared to represent the new liberalism of the 1960s in Ireland when the Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid, was confronted by a guest in the show's first series—an event which was sensational at the time.

This incident was just one of several which have contributed to the folklore associated with the programme. The Late Late Show, with Byrne as host, was not reluctant to introduce controversial topics. Other controversies include:

Gay Byrne, pictured on the set of The Late Late Show in 1966, around the time of "The Bishop and the Nightie Affair" and the Brian Trevaskis incident
  • "The Playboy incident": In January 1966, Victor Lownes, a representative of Playboy, was expected to appear on The Late Late Show; however, he was axed when he revealed that he hoped to recruit young women to work as Bunnies in Playboy clubs.[1]
  • "The Bishop and the Nightie Affair": A minor furore erupted later in 1966 when the Bishop of Clonfert condemned The Late Late Show as immoral and Gay Byrne as a promoter of "filth". The condemnation stemmed from a small item on the show in which Byrne was interviewing a number of couples to see how well they knew each other. Byrne asked a Mrs. Fox from Terenure if she could remember what colour her nightdress was on the first night of her married life to her Mr. Fox.[1] The woman first implied it was "transparent" before revealing that she might not have worn an item of clothing to bed that night at all.[1][34] This response was received with laughter by Byrne and the studio audience, with Mrs. Fox then revealing her nightdress had been white.[1] However, the Bishop either misheard or ignored this, feeling the need to protest against this "filthy" programme and the "filth" which was being televised into the nation's homes.[34] The Bishop of Clonfert sent a telegram: "Disgusted with disgraceful performance",[1] prompting a swift RTÉ apology which the Irish Examiner states was similar to the apology the same broadcaster issued during the Brian Cowen nude portraits controversy in 2009.[35] Meath VEC said it was "anti-national", whilst Loughrea Town Council described it as "a dirty programme that should be abolished altogether".[1] The furore died down after a number of weeks, but is still remembered. When the topic featured on the 2008 documentary How The Irish Have Sex broadcast by rival channel TV3, the Irish Independent '​s Damian Corless said Éamon de Valera "won't be turning on, but will instead be turning in his grave".[1]
  • Brian Trevaskis: On a March 1966 episode of The Late Late Show a debate was held on the Roman Catholic Church. Brian Trevaskis, a young student and President of The Phil Society of Trinity College, making his first television appearance, criticised the Bishop of Galway, Michael Browne for spending so much on a cathedral instead of helping the poor. Trevaskis described the building as a "monstrosity" and referred to the Bishop as a "moron". He was invited back on the show the following week, 6 April 1966, to expand on his opinions. The student referred to the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising, a pivotal moment in Irish history, when he expressed his concern over the devotion of money to building churches in a society where women who were impregnated outside marriage were considered outcasts and as such were vulnerable members of society. Trevaskis claimed Ireland was not a Christian country and told of how, when asked if the bishop knew the meaning of the word "moron", he replied using his uncertainty as to whether the bishop knew the meaning of the word "Christian".[35][36]

Frank Hall (1964)[edit]

In the late 1960s, with the start of BBC 2, Byrne decided to return to British television, where his career had originally begun. The Late Late Show was passed to another presenter, Frank Hall. After one year, Byrne agreed to return to RTÉ to present his old show, augmented by his own award-winning radio show.

Gay Byrne (1965–1999)[edit]

  • "Women's rights": Elderly feminist campaigner Hillary Boyle criticised the Irish government when she appeared on The Late Late Show during the 1970s, calling them "all so afraid of a belt of the crozier (the Bishop's stick)".[35]
  • "Contraceptive Train": When several women, amongst them June Levine and Nell McCafferty, carried bags of condoms from Belfast on a train in protest at Ireland's strict anti-contraception laws in 1971, The Late Late Show became involved in the incident when one of the women, Mary Kenny, appeared in the studio to say that the law was "pretty damn weird".[37]
  • "Lesbian nuns": In 1979, Gay Byrne interviewed a lesbian on The Late Late Show, escaping public condemnation in the process.[1] However, when a couple of former nuns who were lesbians were booked to appear in 1985, a High Court case ensued and calls came for The Late Late Show to be axed altogether as it would "greatly undermine Christian moral values" and "the respect of the general public for nuns" to feature the pair on live television.[1] Protestors gathered to recite decades of the rosary, sing hymns as the show got underway.[1]
  • "AIDS special": An AIDS special in the 1980s included a controversial demonstration on live television of how to attach a condom to a finger.[1]
  • Minding the children: In 1992 several female TDs who had been newly elected to Dáil Éireann appeared on the programme, with Gay Byrne wondering who was taking care of their children.[38]
  • Annie Murphy: In 1992, Bishop Eamonn Casey resigned when it was revealed that he had broken his vow of celibacy having fathered a child with a young American divorcee named Annie Murphy in 1973 during his tenure as Bishop of Kerry.[39] In April 1993, Murphy appeared on The Late Late Show to speak about the affair and their child, Peter. Eamonn Casey had supported their son financially, but had requested that this be kept quiet to protect his career.[40] At the end of the interview Byrne said if the baby was 'half the man his father was' he would be fine and Annie Murphy replied that the boy's mother (meaning herself) was 'not so bad either', drawing applause from the studio audience.[41] Casey spent most of his time since the scandal outside of Ireland, in an effort to avoid media attention but eventually returned in 2006.[42] Casey himself, was a guest on the show incidentally, on several previous occasions – possibly influencing Byrne's apparent scepticism of Murphy's motives and claims on the show.[citation needed]
  • Gerry Adams: As a response to a change in legislation, it became possible for RTÉ to interview Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in 1994. Byrne set up a show, with a panel of public figures, Jim Kemmy, Dermot Ahern,[44] Michael McDowell, Hugh Leonard and Austin Currie. The last three openly loathed Adams. Byrne himself refused to shake hands with Adams. He maintained confrontational body language, and stayed a distance of over three metres away from Adams throughout the show. However, Adams proved more skillful at debate than was expected. During the show a number people phoned in stating that Byrne and the other panellists were acting "hostile and aggressive" towards Adams. Byrne also had to state that nobody was specially invited to the audience.[45] The attempt to damage Adams politically backfired, as it appeared too obvious that he was being 'set up'. Indeed Sinn Féin's popularity rating in the Republic increased significantly after the interview, with the Irish Examiner reporting that 70% of people held a favourable view of Adams after the show.[46]
  • Pádraig Flynn: In 1999, Pádraig Flynn, Ireland's EU Commissioner, appeared on the show, during which he commented on Tom Gilmartin and a donation of £50,000 to the Fianna Fáil party. Flynn also talked about "the difficulties" in his own life; he talked of having a salary of £100,000 (Irish Púnt) and trying to run three houses, cars and housekeepers along with regular travel. The performance was seen as very out of touch, at a time when house prices in Ireland were rising dramatically, and the average industrial wage was £15,380.[47] This effectively brought to an end any possibility of Flynn returning to a career in politics in Ireland. Flynn also made remarks concerning Tom Gilmartin, a London based Irish builder. In response to Byrne's question that Flynn knew Gilmartin, Flynn answered; "Oh yes, yes. I haven't seen him now for some years. I met him. He's a Sligo man who went to England, made a lot of money, came back, wanted to do a lot of business in Ireland, didn't work out for him, didn't work out for him. He's not well. His wife isn't well. He's out of sorts." Flynn seemed to attack the credibility of Gilmartin at a time when he was being linked in the media to planning irregularities in Dublin. Gilmartin responded by publicising details of meetings with Flynn, and bringing them to the attention of the Planning Tribunal, causing difficulty for Flynn. This "vanity platform" on The Late Late Show saw, as the Irish Examiner later referred to it, Flynn "managed to get both feet into his mouth and talk at the same time".[35]
  • Terry Keane: The Late Late Show continued to cause controversy right up to Byrne's departure. On his second last show he interviewed the gossip columnist Terry Keane, who went on to reveal a long affair with the former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey. Haughey, a lifelong acquaintance of Byrne, had intended to be available for the last show, but went into hiding from the media as a result of the revelations. Haughey had appealed to Keane not to reveal her story. Keane was publicising her book covering her life in Irish public life, and her career as a journalist with the Irish Independent newspaper group.
  • Bill Murray: One show featured an interview with Ghostbusters actor Bill Murray. In the audience, comedian Jason Byrne masqueraded as a man who had set up a paranormal investigation agency, similar to that in the film. Murray responded by making a joke regarding his experience in a local restaurant.


The flexibility of the show was augmented by Byrne's position not merely as the show's presenter but also as its producer for much of his period with the show. He intentionally reminded the viewer that the show was being broadcast live through his interaction with people working behind the scenes. Cameras were visible, and if an audience member was invited to speak, the boom microphone could be seen swing in overhead. Some of Byrne's phrases became well known; when instructing that a piece of videotape be played, he invariably announced 'you can roll it there, Colette', chat to the floor manager, inquiring as to what telephone line a caller was ringing in on, and on some shows would extend its running time by fifteen or thirty minutes, discussing the extra running time with the floor staff and production team as an 'aside' during an interview. The effect of all these mannerisms was said to add to the sense of realism in the show, that, as the theme music at the end of the show stated, "It started on The Late Late Show." This was a clip of the Nat King Cole song "The Late Late Show," which appeared on his 1959 album Big Band Cole.

Gay Byrne's final show[edit]

Byrne presented his last Late Late Show on 21 May 1999. The show, beginning at 21.30 lasted four hours, twice as long as a normal Late Late Show at the time. The tributes flooded in for the host from all quarters. There were many high-profile guests on his final show, including Salman Rushdie and Billy Connolly.[48]

Irish President Mary McAleese told Byrne:

There were also glowing tributes for Byrne from then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, comedian Billy Connolly, RTÉ broadcasters Des Cahill, Larry Gogan, Mike Murphy, Marian Finucane, American counterpart Merv Griffin, former Taoiseach Charles Haughey and various other celebrities.

There were musical performances on the night from The Corrs,[48] Christy Moore, Sarah Brightman and Rosaleen Linehan. U2 members Bono and Larry Mullen presented Byrne with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle as a retirement present. Byrne was spotted on the bike regularly, until January 2003 when Byrne and U2 jointly auctioned the bike for The Children's Medical & Research Foundation at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin.[49]

Pat Kenny (1999–2009)[edit]

In 1999 Pat Kenny succeeded Byrne who had presented the show for 37 years. When Byrne left, The Late Late Show dominated RTÉ's ratings viewership figures, coming in consistently either at number 1 or number 2.[50]

Some suggested in media columns in the Sunday Independent and The Irish Times that the show be dropped and that the show's success was too linked with Byrne to work with any other presenter. RTÉ, however, retained the show as it was a powerful brand which attracted extensive advertising revenue. Contemporary media reports speculated that comedians and chat show hosts Patrick Kielty and Graham Norton might be asked to present it. However, RTÉ gave the show to Byrne's chat show rival, Pat Kenny, who for nearly a decade had presented his own Kenny Live show in the Saturday night time slot. Even after seven years at the helm of the show Kenny was regularly criticised in the media for his style of presentation.[51] One notable occurrence in early 2006 led to the actor Brendan Gleeson becoming emotional whilst discussing the state of the Irish health service.[52] On 27 March 2009 Pat announced his intention to step down after 10 years, "at a time when the audience figures were never higher". He presented his final show on 29 May 2009 during which he received a guitar from The Edge of U2.


Kenny and his staff changed many aspects of The Late Late Show. Its distinctive title music[53] was changed, as was the set design and studio layout. Guests, instead of remaining on, were to be only involved in their own segment of the show. The new set abandoned the traditional presenter's desk. Unlike Byrne, Kenny had his guests announced in advance. Other than the name and the use of an owl as the show's symbol, and a traditional 'toy show' edition,[54] little of the original has not been revamped. Byrne's two catch-phrases, "it started on The Late Late Show", and "one for everyone in the audience"[55] were dropped. The latter of these phrases has been partially revived, but is not in as much use as it was before Kenny's reign as presenter.

Notable incidents[edit]

  • Joe O'Reilly: In late October 2004, three weeks after the murder of Rachel O'Reilly (31), who had been bludgeoned to death in her home in the Naul, north County Dublin, the husband of the victim, Joe O'Reilly, and her mother, Rose Callaly, appeared on the show. Callaly did not look at O'Reilly during the interview and was obviously traumatised. In contrast, O'Reilly was calm and composed, fueling speculation that he had murdered his wife and staged the botched burglary. O'Reilly was later arrested and, two years later, convicted of the murder of his wife Rachel.[56][57][58][59]
24 November 2006

Problems playing this file? See media help.
  • Paul Stokes: Pat Kenny was surprised on 24 November 2006 when an intruder, Mr Paul Stokes from Monkstown, County Dublin, interrupted that evening's edition of The Late Late Show. The man managed to break on to the set and confronted Kenny as he was about to begin interviewing You're a Star judges Thomas Black, Linda Martin, and Brendan O'Connor. He shouted insults in Kenny's face, saying, "Howye Pat! You're a censor! How dare you! Gay Byrne and you are ... [grunt] ... you're insufferable arseholes. You arsehole, you piece of shit, you piece of shit," live and, ironically, uncensored on air as the guests and audience watched on. The startled presenter uttered "thank you" repeatedly. The show went prematurely to a commercial break while the man was removed from the set. When the show came back on, Kenny told the viewers 'Sorry for that rude interruption' and continued with the interview. Stokes was arrested and later released from custody. The Today FM presenter Jenny Kelly famously went into labour whilst laughing at the incident on her television screen, her initial intention having been to "bore the baby into arriving".[60] It was later revealed[61] that his daughter is a member of The Late Late Show crew. Shortly after the initial incident, Stokes rammed his vehicle into the front entrance of RTÉ in Donnybrook; no-one was injured.[62]

Stokes was also reported to have stood outside Kenny's house shouting insults[63] and to have painted threatening messages on walls near the house,[64] although a charge of harassment connected with the case was dropped.[65] Paul Stokes was later sentenced to two years in prison for ramming the RTÉ entrance.[66]

In March 2009, The Late Late Show hosted a debate between twenty senators and journalists John Drennan and Ian O'Doherty on a proposal to abolish Seanad Éireann, described as "the first ever for TV" by executive producer Larry Masterson.[6]

Pat Kenny's final show[edit]

Pat Kenny presented The Late Late Show for the last time on 29 May 2009, when he received a guitar and glasses from The Edge of U2 and also featured other guests as well and an outdoor event was set up outside in the grounds of RTÉ. At the end of the show, Joe Duffy presented Pat Kenny with a cake in the shape of a "10", to mark ten years of hosting The Late Late Show.[67] The number of viewers who tuned in to watch the last show peaked at 996,000, with an average share of 55% of the total TV audience.[68]

Ryan Tubridy (2009-Present)[edit]

After two months of speculation, Ryan Tubridy emerged as the host of The Late Late Show.[69] Other personalities tipped for the role included Gerry Ryan and Miriam O'Callaghan.[70] O'Callaghan, who for some media commentators was the favourite to get the job,[71] claims she turned down the role to keep her Prime Time slot and to spend time with her eight children.[72]

Tubridy presented his first programme on 4 September 2009[73] with a custom picked staff,[74] a new set and house band.[75] Tubridy came from behind a red curtain and sat at a wooden desk in the same €3,000+ chair as the actress Meryl Streep used in the film The Devil Wears Prada.[76] Original host Gay Byrne gave Tubridy his blessing, saying: "He has all the qualities required, the light deft touch together with a serious mind. I think it's a great adventure that he's setting off on".[77] 1.6 million tuned in at some stage of Tubridy's first show as host, making it the most watched edition of The Late Late Show—outside the toy show—since Gay Byrne's retirement in May 1999. Overall, the programme had an average of 927,000 people watching and an audience share of 62 per cent.[78] Guests on the first show hosted by Tubridy included Brian Cowen, Saoirse Ronan, Brian McFadden, Joan Collins, Cherie Blair, and Niall Quinn.[79][80]

In 2010, the show was broadcast on Good Friday for the first time in 15 years.[81] Later the same month (April), the show's former hosts, Gay Byrne and Pat Kenny, as well as other RTÉ broadcasters such as Joe Duffy, Dave Fanning and Brenda Donohue, joined together on air to discuss the sudden death of former host and colleague Gerry Ryan on 30 April 2010.[82] On 1 February 2013, Pat Kenny made an unexpected return as host after Tubridy's father died.[27]

Tubridy expects his term as host to be closer in length to Pat Kenny's 10 years than rather Gay Byrne's 37 years.[83]


Pat Kenny on the new set as launched in September 2007

The Late Late Show has featured many presentation schemes over its long history, with titles, graphics and set changed on a regular basis, although an owl has been featured in the opening title sequence for most of the show's history. In more recent times the show has seen a change in appearance generally every four years. Its most recent revamp was launched on Friday 7 September 2007, featuring a completely new set but retaining the existing title sequence as used since 2003. Designed by Darragh Treacy of RTÉ Production Design, the new set makes for a more complex and layered background than the previous arrangement, and is heavily dependent on saturated lighting and modern construction materials. It is made of metal, timber and polycarbonate, with carpet as a floor covering. According to Treacy: "I wanted something contemporary that would be architectural and structural, [for example] the horizontal lines and boxes that you see running throughout the set." "The back wall of the [chat area] has textured panels which just take the light beautifully and give a great three-dimensional effect. Then the polycarbonate boxes sit in front of that. The fins – the large timber sections – to the left of the chat area are replicated in the entertainment area as well, and are large pieces of timber with a paint finish that take the light."[84]

A new development in the evolving presentation of the show has been the reintroduction of a desk in the chat area as originally continued on after Byrne's departure in 1999, but disposed of shortly afterwards, in spite of a final-attempt redesign in 2000. Kenny notes: "After eight seasons of sitting around, lounging around, as if in a living room, we decided just for a change that we'd put the desk in and see what difference it made. We'll work with it: I mean if it doesn't work after five or six weeks, it goes - if it does work, well we'll find ways of using it effectively. I mean it does put a little barrier between myself and the guest, but on the other hand it can be very useful for a formal interview where you don't want to be too intimate with your guest if it's a little bit antagonistic, whereas in the past I was always reclining and even if I had to be a bit aggressive with a guest the body language was a little bit confusing in that regard. So we'll see."[84] In an apparent effort to resolve such problems, the new desk is more of a table design with a transparent underside, is angled to be narrower at the guest end, and is composed of thin elegant profiles of timber and glass.

A new entrance flight of steps has also been introduced, somewhat redolent of former Kenny Live sets. "I wanted a grand entrance, but I also wanted an entrance that was part of the background of the set, so they arrive down and join Pat – and it's a feature walk-on for guests" according to Treacy. Kenny approves of the steps, noting: "as you come down the steps, be it myself or a guest, you're slowly revealed: more and more of your body is revealed to the audience until finally you're standing in the 'doorway' as it were. I think it’ll be interesting; a more dramatic entrance than we've had for the past three or four years." New chairs were also specially provided by Irish company Design Classics Direct, made to an original 1929 design of Irish designer Eileen Gray.

Theme music and opening titles[edit]

Although not the original theme, the theme music most associated with the show is the instrumental introduction from Chris Andrews' 1965 single To Whom It Concerns, which was in use as early as 1971 and used until Byrne's final show. The version used on the show was proceeded with a distinctive drum roll, followed by a whistle which would then segue into To Whom It Concerns. This was always accompanied by the spoken introduction: "Ladies and gentlemen, to whom it concerns, it's "The Late Late Show", and here is your host, Gay Byrne". During the same era, a clip from The Late Late Show by Nat King Cole was used as the closing music. The Late Late Show was unusual during Byrne's era in that the show's production credits ran over the opening title sequence, and only a brief still of the show's logo was shown at the end.

During the Kenny era, To Whom It Concerns was replaced, although the new theme incorporated elements of the distinctive drum roll from the old theme. Three different arrangements were used during this era. The show's production credits were moved to the end at this point, and the closing theme has been the same as the opening since 1999.

A new set and title sequence was introduced for Ryan Tubridy's first show, with Chris Andrews's To Whom It Concerns returning as the theme music after a ten-year absence, albeit in a new arrangement performed by The Late Late Show Band and RTÉ Concert Orchestra.


Since 2009, the Irish representative for the Eurovision Song Contest has been chosen annually through a national song competition called Eurosong. The Eurosong final is held as a special edition of The Late Late Show. The five finalists perform their songs live on the show, with voting done as a 50-50 split between regional juries and a public televote. The show also includes celebrity interviews, guest performances, and a panel of Eurovision experts who discuss the performances with Tubridy.[85][86][87][88][89]

Tribute shows[edit]

Toy show[edit]

Each year in late November or early December, The Late Late Show puts on a traditional "Toy Show", in which the popular toys of the year and in catalogues are showcased before the oncoming Christmas season. Children are invited to test toys and perform while adult celebrity guests also appear on the show. The audience also sports Christmas wear on set.


- In 1994, Northern Irish band Therapy? played the show. They were expected to play their cover of Joy Division's Isolation. The band, disheartened with the way the show was treating them, decided to play the song Knives instead, without warning. The song featured two uses of the word "fuck", which performers would normally have to omit from their song.[90] The band came back the following year and performed their song Stories.[91]

- In 1995, Pop Will Eat Itself, an English indie rock band trashed the studio whilst performing. They were invited back to Ireland by Byrne having performed in the country again.[92]

First musical performances[edit]

Artists whose television debut occurred on The Late Late Show are included alongside other relevant information in the table below.

Band Song Date
The Boomtown Rats Mary of the Fourth Form 1977[93]
Boyzonea 1993
Mary Coughlan 1985[94]
Crystal Swing "He Drinks Tequila" 12 March 2010[95]
Hothouse Flowers
Sinéad O'Connor
U2 "Stories for Boys" January 1980[96][97]
Finbar Wright
The Strypes "I Saw Her Standing There" 2010 (Toy Show)


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  2. ^ a b Jane Last (2 October 2009). "Look who just popped in for the Late Late". Evening Herald. Retrieved 4 October 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Celebrity chef and comedians for LLS". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 6 November 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Boyzone singer to join Tubridy on LLS". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 13 November 2009. Retrieved 13 November 2009. 
  5. ^ "Sex and the City call for Late Late composer". Evening Herald. 17 September 2009. Retrieved 19 September 2009. 
  6. ^ a b Gerald Gittens (20 March 2009). "TV first as senators join Late debate to justify jobs". Evening Herald. Retrieved 13 November 2009. 
  7. ^ Lalor, Brian (2003). The Encyclopedia of Ireland. Yale University Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-300-09442-8. 
  8. ^ "Dima performs at The Late Late Show". Eurovision. 31 May 2008. Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  9. ^ "Paisley on RTÉ's Late Late Show". BBC News. 24 January 2009. Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
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