The Panel (Irish TV series)

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The Panel
The Panel Ireland.jpg
Created by Happy Endings Productions
Starring Ed Byrne
Neil Delamere
Mairead Farrell
Andrew Maxwell
Colin Murphy
Dara Ó Briain
Country of origin Ireland
No. of episodes 84 (as of 23 January 2008)
Running time 45 minutes per episode
Original network Network 2/RTÉ Two (2003–2008)
RTÉ One (2008–2011)
Original release 15 September 2003 (2003-09-15) – 26 January 2011 (2011-01-26)

The Panel is a talk show[1] produced by Happy Endings Productions for RTÉ, based on the Australian programme The Panel, produced by Working Dog Productions for Network Ten. The theme song was "Waterfall" by The Stone Roses.

Until 2006 it was hosted by Dara Ó Briain.[2] Ó Briain, having presented Echo Island, came to popular acclaim at home through his regular appearances in Don't Feed the Gondolas, a topical comedy show in the same Monday night slot on Network 2.

Recorded at various locations around Dublin—including Belvedere College's O'Reilly Theatre, Dublin City University's Helix Theatre and Blanchardstown's Draíocht Theatre—its sudden apparent cancellation in December 2005 annoyed fans but The Panel returned with a largely unchanged format in October 2006. Until early 2008 it aired on Network 2 (later RTÉ Two), usually on a Monday night. A disastrous move to RTÉ One (with the role of presenter rotated among the likes of Ray D'Arcy, Charlie Bird, and Dáithí Ó Sé) preceded the show's demise; one last run began on 7 October 2010 and ran each Thursday at 22:15 on RTÉ One until 26 January 2011, with Craig Doyle presenting.


The show had a host who chaired the discussion, along with four panellists who changed from week to week. Regular panellists included Colin Murphy, Andrew Maxwell, Neil Delamere, Mairead Farrell and Eleanor Tiernan. They discussed current events, interspersed with interviews with special guests. Panelists were typically professional comedians, and as such the show aimed for pure comedy, rather than any hybrid of discussion or analysis and topical jokes. The producers and regular performers were clear that the show was distinguished from other panel shows by the absence of games, rounds, scores or other contrivances.


The iconic Panel mug, from which the panelists would sip.

Classic panelists included:

  1. Since Ó Briain ceased to be a regular, Murphy is the panelist who has appeared in the most episodes.
  2. The show's former regular presenter, he only appeared on one show of the 2007–2008 season, although he hosted the episode on which he appeared.

List of episodes[edit]

First series[edit]

The first series aired on Network 2 live from The Helix in Dublin City University (9:30 - 10:30 pm) each Monday between 15 September and 17 November 2003. It was repeated on Saturdays at 10:05 pm.[4]

Second series[edit]

The second series aired on Network 2/RTÉ Two (the channel's name changed mid-series) live from Vicar Street at 10.00pm each Monday between 13 September and 8 November 2004. It was preceded on Monday 6 September with a Best Of… from the first series.[1][5]

Third series[edit]

The third series aired on RTÉ Two on Sunday evenings at 9:30 in early 2005.[6] It was recorded in advance at The Mermaid Arts Centre in Bray and the O'Reilly Theatre in Belvedere College.[7]

Next series[edit]

The People Decide[edit]

In which the panellists discussed the 2007 general election. A special run of shows previewing the election, presented by Colin Murphy.

Sixth series[edit]

When the show returned for the 2007–2008 season there was no longer a single presenter; Neil Delamere or Colin Murphy presented in the absence of Ó Briain. Ó Briain returned to present one episode during this series, marking what would be his final appearance on the show, having moved on to employment in the neighbouring United Kingdom. The company he co-founded, Happy Endings Productions, continued to produce the show, and he retained an advisory relationship. Neil Delamere hosted The Panel for the first time on 8 October 2007.

Move to RTÉ One[edit]

RTÉ moved The Panel to RTÉ One in 2008, to be shown on Thursday evenings. In addition, RTÉ deployed a different presenter for each episode - these included Ray D'Arcy, Charlie Bird, Dáithí Ó Sé and Craig Doyle, the latter of whom was given the role on a more permanent basis before The Panel was brought to an end, all humour eked out of it. The first RTÉ One episode was, in what would become commonplace, criticised for being too serious; the panelists blamed this on their new setting.[8]

In September 2008, RTÉ moved The Panel to its flagship television channel RTÉ One. A 14-episode run was announced, to begin airing on that channel at 22.15 on 30 October with a new presenter. Several prominent Irish broadcasters were screen-tested to fill the role of presenter, but a combination of unfortunate factors meant that show returned with rotating guest hosts, rather than any one person in a permanent position. Shortly before the airdate, RTÉ changed its schedules and the series began on 6 November at 22.15 with its original timescale of 45 minutes. Ray D'Arcy was the guest presenter for the week and was followed by a string of others including Gráinne Seoige, Dáithí Ó Sé, Marty Whelan, Charlie Bird, Phill Jupitus and Pauline McLynn. Producer Seamus Cassidy told The Irish Times that ""a reasonably big name, a very big name actually" would take over as permanent anchor in January 2009.[9] On 23 November 2008, the Sunday Tribune reported that comedian Ardal O'Hanlon would be announced as the new permanent host.[10] Former presenter Ó Briain indicated his awareness of the presenter in question, and was quoted as saying on a breakfast radio show that "HE is very funny" but refused to discuss the matter any further.[11] However, in early 2009 it emerged there would be a further delay in obtaining a permanent host for "at least another couple of weeks", with Craig Doyle presenting the first show of the new year.[12] In the event, the guest host format continued for the entire 2008–2009 series. Following a short run with David McWilliams at the helm in 2009, the show was thought to have been de-commissioned. However, at the launch of RTÉ's Autumn schedule in August 2010, Craig Doyle was announced as presenter for a new run of 14 shows.[13]


Jarlath Regan, Ian Coppinger, Carol Tobin, Alan Shortt and Evelyn O'Rourke made their debuts on the show as panellists in the 2008–09 season. Karl Spain also made a return in the fifth episode. Upon Ivan Yates's appearance in the sixth episode it was claimed that he was now the record holder of guest appearances on The Panel and the political bookmaker went on to guest-host an episode of the show in 2009. For the first three episodes of 2009 no female was present on The Panel for the first time; this was rectified in the fourth episode of the year with the addition of Evelyn O'Rourke.

Phill Jupitus was hired especially by RTÉ to guest host an episode of The Panel.
The Panel Unwrapped
  • Shown on Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The first episode attracted an average audience share of 23 per cent. New presenter David McWilliams apologised to broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan for comments of a sexist nature about her he had included in his latest book.[14]


The Panel returned on 7 October 2010 with a new host, Craig Doyle.[15] The regulars Maxwell, Delamere, Murphy and Farrell returned, with Eleanor Tiernan, Bernard O'Shea, Dermot Whelan, Gearóid Farrelly, John Colleary, Kevin Bridges, Stephen K. Amos and Jack Whitehall appearing throughout the series. This series included the show's 100th episode.


On 4 June 2011, Andrew Maxwell, one of the regular panelists said on Twitter that the show had been cancelled.[16] The following day, RTÉ posted a headline confirming that the show had been cancelled; it read: "I can confirm that 'The Panel' won't be returning to our screens this autumn. The show has enjoyed nine seasons, the first six on RTÉ Two and the three most recent on RTÉ One".[17]

Live performances[edit]

The show was performed live to full houses in the Olympia Theatre from 11–13 September 2007 as part of the Bulmers Comedy Festival. These shows, following the format of the television show but with a longer running time and stronger language, were chaired by Colin Murphy and were not recorded for television.


A DVD, The Panel – The Best of..., was released in 2008.[18]


  1. ^ a b "Series two". RTÉ. Archived from the original on 6 September 2004. The Panel is a talk show... 
  2. ^ "Two faces you won't be seeing in the Late Late Show hotseat". Evening Herald. 7 April 2009. Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
  3. ^ "TV star Mairead is blown away by the €200 'botox for hair' treatment that leaves locks silky for 12 weeks". Evening Herald. 13 August 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2009. 
  4. ^ "Series one". RTÉ. Archived from the original on 7 December 2003. 
  5. ^ "Monday 8 November 2004". RTÉ. Archived from the original on 11 December 2004. This is the final programme in the current series. 
  6. ^ "Series three". RTÉ. Archived from the original on 7 February 2005. 
  7. ^ "Free audience tickets available for The Panel". RTÉ. Archived from the original on 16 January 2005. 
  8. ^ "The Panel 2008". 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "A prime time for comics to get edgy". The Irish Times. 11 November 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2008. 
  10. ^ "The Diary, Ken Sweeney – Holy God, Dougal becomes full-time host of 'The Panel'". Sunday Tribune. 23 November 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2008. 
  11. ^ The Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show. Today FM. 1 December 2008.
  12. ^ Doyle, Kevin (8 January 2009). "Craig to host RTÉ's the panel as search continues for a full-time presenter". Evening Herald. Retrieved 9 January 2009. 
  13. ^ "RTÉ Television Launches 2010/2011 Schedule". The Irish Film & Television Network. 11 August 2010. Archived from the original on 3 March 2015. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  14. ^ Nolan, Lorna (10 November 2009). "It's no laughing matter for McWilliams as Panel flops". Evening Herald. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  15. ^ Nolan, Lorna (9 August 2010). "Doyle replaces McWilliams on Panel". Evening Herald. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  16. ^ Maxwell, Andrew (4 June 2011). "I've just been told RTE has ..." Twitter. Archived from the original on 3 March 2015. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  17. ^ "RTÉ's The Panel comes to an end". RTÉ News. 5 June 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  18. ^ "The Panel, The Best Of – DVD". RTÉ. Retrieved 1 November 2008. 

External links[edit]