- The Late Late Show
show_name = The Late Late Show
caption = Pat Kenny interviews Loyalist killer Michael Stone.
Chat show, Talk show, variety show
runtime = 120 minutes per edition
| hosts =
Craig Kilborn(1999–2004) Craig Ferguson(2005–present)
country = Ireland
6 July 1962- Present
imdb_id = 0264270|
"The Late Late Show" is the world's longest-running [Questions are sometimes raised over whether "The Tonight Show" on US television, which began broadcasting in 1954, should be described as the longest running. However there is little continuity between the show launched in 1954 and the current format, with the show existing under different guises and names ('Tonight' and 'Tonight! America after Dark' are just two of its names in its early years). The show in its different formats ran as a variety show, then as a news show that was modelled on breakfast show, before adopting the current format and the name "The Tonight Show" when
Johnny Carsontook over as permanent presenter in October 1962, some months after "The Late Late Show" was launched. Having kept the same name and format continuously, "The Late Late Show" is perceived in the media as more entitled to the term "the longest running show".] chat showand officially the flagship television programme of Irish broadcasting company Radio Telefís Éireann(RTÉ). The show, hosted by Pat Kenny, is broadcast live for two hours in front of a studio audience at 21:30 on Friday nights between September and May. It is broadcast from Studio 4 in RTÉ's headquarters, a studio specifically adapted in 1995 to cater for this flagship production, and " Kenny Live". The show was previously broadcast on Saturday nights. At present it is sponsored by Halifax.
"The Late Late Show" was first broadcast on Friday,
6 July 1962at 23:20. Since then, its format has remained largely the same, with music, chat, and audience involvement in debates on topical issues. The show's rapid rise to popularity led it to top the ratings consistently on RTÉ for forty years. Some sociologistshave credited it with influencing Irish attitudes towards many issues, and directing social change in Ireland to construct current Irish societal norms.
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. Also, people often did not realise the value in archiving them.
The show has had three hosts,
Gay Byrne, Frank Hall, and Pat Kenny.
When the show was launched, its original presenter was
Gay Byrne, a young Irish broadcaster who had been working with Granada Televisionin Britain. 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, apart from a brief break, until retiring in 1999. His 37 year stewardship of "The Late Late Show" means that he has hosted a chat show longer than any other presenter. Indeed, Byrne's style of presentation is credited as contributing largely to the show's success. Internationally Byrne's presentation style has been studied by 'would be' chat show hosts in many countries.Fact|date=December 2007
The show relied on two common formats. The first consisted of a series of interviews of celebrity guests. Most of these guests were American 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 now being debated openly on television. Politician
Oliver J. Flanagan, when a guest on the show, claimed that there was "no sex in Ireland before television," 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 Archbishopof Dublin, John Charles McQuaid, was confronted by a guest in the show's first series - an event which was sensational at a time when much of Ireland was devoutly Roman Catholic.
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:
*The Bishop and the Nightie Affair: A minor furore erupted in 1966 when the Bishop of Galway condemned "The Late Late Show" as immoral. 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 young woman if she could remember what colour her nightdress was on the first night of her married life. The woman replied that she might not have worn one. This response was received with laughter by Byrne and the studio audience; however the Bishop felt the need to protest against this "filthy" programme. The furore died down after a number of weeks, but is still remembered.
*Brian Trevaskis: On an early episode of "The Late Late Show" a debate was held on the Roman Catholic Church. Brian Trevaskis, a young student, criticised the Bishop of Galway 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".
*Brian Lenihan: Gay Byrne, was a personal friend of
Brian Lenihan, and presented a tribute show in 1988 to support the case for Lenihan, as a candidate for the office of President of Ireland.
*Annie Murphy: In an episode in 1991 an American woman, Annie Murphy, revealed that she had an affair with
Eamon Casey, at the time of his tenure as Bishop of Kerry, in 1973. She also revealed that she had a son by him. She revealed that he had supported her son financially, but had kept requested to keep it quiet to protect his career. This resulted in Casey's removal from office as Bishop of Galway, and as chairman of several charity organisations. Casey has spent most of his time since then outside of Ireland, in an effort to avoid media attention. Casey himself, was a guest on the show incidentally, on several previous occasions - possibly influencing Byrne's apparent skepticism of Murphy's motives and claims on the show.
*Peter Brooke: In 1992 the British
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Brookeappeared on "The Late Late Show". After a pleasant interview, Byrne coaxed and goaded the unwilling Brooke, into singing " Oh My Darling, Clementine" on a day when seven Protestant construction workers had been killed by an IRA bomb. Unionists were outraged at what seemed to be a moment clearly out of touch with grieving families, and instantly requested the resignation of Brooke. Brooke was humiliated, and subsequently lost his position as Secretary of State to Sir Patrick Mayhewafter the 1992 British General Election in April.
*Gerry Adams: As a response to a change in legislation, it became possible for RTÉ to interview
Sinn Féinleader Gerry Adamsin 1997. Byrne set up a show, with a panel of public figures from the southern Nationalist population who 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. The attempt to damage Adams politically backfired, as it appeared too obvious that he was being 'set up'.Fact|date=December 2007
*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 Fáilparty. Flynn also talked about "the difficulties" in his own life; he talked of having a salary of £100,000 (Irish Punt) 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. [http://www.cso.ie/statistics/indearnings.htm CSO - Statistics: Industrial Earnings] — "CSO"] . 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. Flynn stated "Yes, of course I know him. I know him well. He is from the West of Ireland. He is a lovely man, and his wife is a lovely woman. But the poor man, his wife got sick, and I think it affected him badly. You know, the man is not at all well." 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.
*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 life long 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 Independentnewspaper group.
*Bill Murray: One show featured an interview with "
Ghostbusters" actor Bill Murray. In the audience, comedian Jason Byrnemasqueraded as a man who had set up a paranormal investigation agency, similar to that in the film. Although this was a joke, Murray appeared to take it seriously.
During Byrne's "Late Late Show" tenure, a number of shows were devoted entirely to paying tribute to a person or persons. A number of celebrities who were the subject of such shows include
Micheál MacLiammoir, Joe Dolan, Maureen Potter, Micheál Ó Hehir, Brian Lenihan, Jimmy Magee, Christy Moore, Mike Murphy and Paul McGrath. There were also special programmes marking the six-month anniversary of the Omagh Bomb, paying tribute to The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, The Dublinersand The Chieftains, celebrating Irish music and a "Late Late Show" special devoted to Irish comedians.
Producer and director
The flexibility of the show was augmented by Byrne's position not merely as the show's presenter but also as its producer and director 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. Some of his 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 a
Nat King Colesong "The Late Late Show", which appeared on his 1959 album 'Big Band Cole'.
Byrne's final show
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". The tributes poured in for Gay Byrnefrom all quarters and there were many high-profile guests. There were musical performances from The Corrs, Christy Moore, Sarah Brightmanand Rosaleen Linehan. U2members Bonoand Larry Mullenpresented Byrne with a Harley-Davidsonmotorcycle as a retirement present. There were glowing tributes for Byrne from President Mary McAleese, An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Billy Connolly, Des Cahill, Larry Gogan, Mike Murphy, Marian Finucane, Merv Griffin, Charles Haugheyand various other celebrities.
In the late 1960s, with the start of BBC 2, Byrne decided to return to British television, where his career had originally began. The "Late Late Show" was passed to another stalwart 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.
Pat Kennysucceeded 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. [RTÉ Guide. "The Late Late Show" and a soap opera, "Glenroe", regularly swapped positions, being either 1 or 2.]
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 Kieltyand Graham Nortonmight 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 is regularly criticised in the media for his style of presentation. [http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=36&si=1677812&issue_id=14569 Sorry, Pat, but you're no Gay Byrne..] — " Sunday Independent", 27 August 2006]
Kenny and his staff changed many aspects of "The Late Late Show". Its distinctive title music [ an instrumental version of the Chris Andrews 1965 UK Top Twenty hit 'To Whom It Concerns'] 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
owlas the show's symbol, and a traditional 'toy show' edition, [ A special edition of the show in early December each year, where children and special guests look at the latest toys available for the Christmas market.] , 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" [When having shown some item on the show, Byrne would announce how there was "one for everyone in the audience".] 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.
In late October 2004, 3 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.
Pat Kenny was surprised on
24 November, 2006when an intruder, a 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 Martinand 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 was prematurely transferred 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 interuption' and continued with the interview. Stokes was arrested and later released from custody. The show returned after a minor delay and Kenny continued the show. It was later revealedFact|date=June 2007, 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. [ [http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0201/stokesp.html RTÉ News: Circuit Court to decide on Stokes ] ] He was also reported to have stood outside Kenny's house shouting insults [ [http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/ireland/2007/0126/1169680646846.html ireland.com - The Irish Times - Fri, Jan 26, 2007 - Remand for man on harassment charge ] ] and to have painted threatening messages on walls near the house [ [http://www.independent.ie/national-news/paul-stokes-is-still-here-but-pat-kenny-wont-be-soon-66054.html 'Paul Stokes is still here, but Pat Kenny won't be soon' - National News, Frontpage - Independent.ie ] ] , although a charge of harassment connected with the case was dropped [ [http://www.independent.ie/unsorted/migration/rt-crash-driver-pleads-guilty-668315.html RTÉ crash driver pleads guilty - Migration, Unsorted - Independent.ie ] ] . Paul Stokes was later sentenced to two years in prison for ramming the RTÉ entrance [ [http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0522/stokesp.html RTÉ News: Man jailed for criminal damage at RTÉ ] ] .
tyles of Byrne and Kenny
Kenny's career as a broadcaster has been extensive, having been a continuity announcer, radio disc jockey, television current affairs presenter, current affairs programme anchor, chat show host in two separate, highly ratedFact|date=February 2007 shows. Kenny's early radio career mirrored that of Byrne's, but Kenny's repertoire is much broader than that of Byrne. Whereas Byrne's broadcasting was generally at the light entertainment end of the spectrum, Kenny has broadcasted three chat shows, a shortlived chat show in the 1980s, "Kenny Live" and "The Late Late Show", while also presenting general election coverage of the 1992 election on RTÉ and being one of three presenters of the award-winning current affairs programme "Today Tonight". Byrne describes himself as an entertainer first. [ The Time of My Life: An Autobiography Author: Byrne, Gay & Deirdre Purcell. Published by Gill & Macmillan Dublin 1989. ISBN 0-7171-1615-8.]
Kenny describes his style:
Some people say that Pat is a bad interviewer because he tends to be 'bland'. On 28 September 2007 Pat was asking
Enrique Iglesiasabout former relationships. Enrique said Pat was embarrassing him and then said 'You ask the questions so dry and so seriously'. Pat was visibly taken aback and quite embarrassed at this accusation.
Due to his long association with the show, Byrne in his autobiography ["The Time of My Life: An Autobiography" Author: Byrne, Gay & Deirdre Purcell ISBN 0-7171-1615-8.] seemed to almost have proprietorial rights, having been both producer and presenter of the show. Kenny was the subject of much media criticism for his takeover from Byrne. [http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=36&si=1677812&issue_id=14569 Sorry, Pat, but you're no Gay Byrne..] — "
Sunday Independent", 27 August 2006] In May 2003 "The Late Late Show" was further reformatted by RTÉ who were concerned at it's continued loss of viewers. Whereas the show under Gay Byrne had never dropped out of the top 10 most watched programmes, within months of Kenny's arrival it did so.
"The Late Late Show" has featured many presentation schemes over its long history, with titles, graphics and set changed on a regular basis. In more recent times the show has seen a change in appearance generally every four years. Its most recent revamp was launched on Friday 7th 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 dependant on saturated lighting and modern construction materials. It is comprised 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." [RTÉ Nationwide: 19th September 2007]
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." [RTÉ Nationwide: 19th September 2007] 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
Famous or infamous guests
List of The Late Late Show guests" lists very many, among whom some of the more notable over 40 years have been:
Dave Allen, stand-up and sketch comedian
Fred Astaire, American actor, singer and dancer
George Best, celebrated Northern Irish soccer player
Bono, lead singer with U2
Paul Brady, songwriter
Richard Branson, British businessman
Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (the appearance resulted in his forced resignation of office)
Roberto Canessaand Nando Parrado, 1972 Andes plane crash victims, reduced to cannibalism
Eamon Casey, subsequently disgraced Irish Catholic Bishop
Jack Charlton, then Irish soccer manager
Clannad, Irish band
* Desmond Connell Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin
Quentin Crisp, British writer, humourist and life model
Billy Connolly, Scottish comedian
Cyril Cusack, Irish actor
* Cahal Daly, retired Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh
* Dana, Ireland's first winner of the
Eurovision Song Contest
Richard Dawkins, Biological scientist
* Patrick Duffy, US television actor and star of "Dallas"
Dustin the Turkey, puppet comedian and children's television presenter.
Ben Elton, author and comedian
Enya, singer and songwriter
* Sarah, Duchess of York ex-wife of Prince
Andrew, Duke of York
Pádraig Flynn, politician (who was eccentric on the show)
Liam Gallagher, lead singer with Oasis
Noel Gallagher, from Oasis rock group
Bob Geldof, lead singer with the Boomtown Rats and founder of Live Aid
Brendan Gleeson, Actor
Rolf Harriswhose highly emotional rendition of "Two Little Boys" on a show in the mid 1970s reduced Byrne and many in the audience to tears.
Audrey Hepburn, Actress
Lenny Henry, British comedian
Shawn Hogan, entrepreneur
Evander Holyfield, Legendary American boxer
Elton John, singer and songwriter
Jordan (Katie Price), British glamour model & socialite.
Ronan Keating, singer
Kevin Kline, Actor
* Viscount Linley, nephew of Queen Elizabeth II
Lorna Luft, singer (appeared on the infamous show where Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Brooke sang "My Darling Clemintine" resulting in his resignation of office)
Joanna Lumley, star of " Absolutely Fabulous"
Shane MacGowan, Irish Songwriter and lead singer of The Pogues
Mary McAleese, President of Ireland
Micheál MacLiammoir, gay Irish actor
Dermot Morgan, comedian and actor [ [http://www.dmtribute.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/tribp120.htm Dermot Morgan Tribute Page 120 ] ]
Annie Murphy, mistress of disgraced Irish Catholic Bishop, Eamon Casey
David Niven, actor
Sinéad O'Connor, singer
Maureen O'Hara, actress
Sonia O'Sullivan, Olympic silver medalist
Bill Murray, actor and comedian
The Permanent Cure, Irish Music and Comedy
Peter O'Toole, actor
* Joe O'Reilly, husband of Rachel O'Reilly, brutally murdered at her Dublin home. Joe has been convicted for her murder.
Oliver Reed, actor
Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland
Mickey Rooney, American actor
Jimmy Saville, TV presenter
Jerry Seinfeld, actor (whom Kenny called "Jerry Seinfield")
Peter Sellers, actor
Dusty Springfield, singer
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
The Wolfe Tones, Irish band (involved in a debate about whether their song lyrics provoked hostility or not)
Tommy Tiernan, comedian
Artists whose first television appearance was on "The Late Late Show"
* [http://www.rte.ie/tv/latelate/ Official website]
* [http://www.scoilnet.ie/lookathistory/Video2.aspx?FolderId=1&Id=541&ref=4 Audio extract of Brian Trevaskis's second Late Late Show appearance] (
Windows Media Player)
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