The mother of all Late Lates planned for 50th anniversary
Published 27/11/2011 | 06:00
To whom it may concern: RTÉ plans to celebrate 50 years of the Late Late Show next year with a special edition of its flagship chat show.
U2, Boyzone and Westlife are just some of the big names who started off on the programme and who are being approached to take part in the special edition which will air next June at the end of the current season.
Original host Gay Byrne and successor Pat Kenny can also expect invitations to share their recollections in the celebration of the longest running TV show in the world.
In fact, so many musical acts and big names are expected to take part, RTÉ is considering a studio set resembling the BBC's Later With Jools Holland just to fit everybody in.
"This could be the only way to go because, from U2 to Boyzone; from Brendan O'Carroll to Colin Farrell, everybody got their big break on the Late Late Show and will want to be there on the night," an RTÉ insider told me.
Producers are already assembling a dedicated team who will begin working on the TV special early in the new year.
First conceived as a short filler programme in the summer schedule of 1962, the Late Late Show went on to become an Irish institution, welcoming guests from Fred Astaire to Peter Sellers.
But Gay Byrne (presenter from 1962-1999) and Pat Kenny (who succeeded him from 1999-2009) weren't the only Late Late Show hosts.
Former film censor Frank Hall presented the show for a season in 1964, while the late Gerry Ryan hosted the programme on October 24, 2008, after presenter Kenny suffered bereavement.
RTÉ insiders say that along with star guests and presenters past and present there might even be room for the famous Late Late Show chair, which was at the centre of controversy in May 1997.
But while they may be celebrating the Late Late Show in 2012, that certainly wasn't the case back on July 6, 1962, when the first show aired.
Gay told me: "The first reaction was outright condemnation. This rubbish and nonsense and why were RTÉ doing it?
"They hated it and that included the critics -- everybody felt it should be taken off at once.
"But there was a turnaround point after about five weeks when the public realised what the show was about. Then they decided they liked the Late Late Show."