RTE hopes Mrs Brown is cracker
IRISH mammy Mrs Brown will feature in two seasonal specials as part of RTE's Christmas schedule.
The national broadcaster is expecting record audiences for the half-hour episodes of 'Mrs Brown's Boys' on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on RTE One, starring Brendan O'Carroll's Dublin matriarch as she attempts to stage the local nativity play.
In another seasonal offering, Ray D'Arcy will host an updated version of 'School Around the Corner', with Una Healy from The Saturdays taking a trip back to her old primary school in Thurles, Co Tipperary (RTE One, St Stephen's Day).
There will be more small screen memories in 'Nighthawks Rehashed' (RTE One, December 29 ) an hour-long lookback at all the best bits of the late night show. This will include the infamous night former Fianna Fail Justice Minister Sean Doherty, spilled the beans on Charlie Haughey's complicity in a phone-tapping scandal which led to the Taoiseach of the day resigning.
Comedian PJ Gallagher will be throwing 'The Great Big Surprise Party' (RTE One, St Stephen's Day) for Finglas, Dublin woman Betty Maher, who has done voluntary work with her local Old Folks Group for over four decades.
Meanwhile, the big screen will come to small screens, with over 90 movies lined up for the Christmas schedule, including 'Up', 'It's Complicated', 'Avatar', 'Leap Year' and 'Salt'.
Moving from movies to TV will be father and son team Brendan and Domhnall Gleeson, who team up with Amy Huberman and Robbie Sheehan for a one-off sketch show 'Raheny Immaturity' (December 27, RTE 2) to raise money and awareness for St Francis Hospice, Raheny, Co Dublin.
Showband star Joe Dolan, who passed away five years ago on St Stephen's Day 2007, will be remembered in 'Joe Dolan – Sweet Little Rock 'n' Roller (RTE One, December 28) in which family members, colleagues and friends will remind us why there was "no show like a Joe Show".
Out and about, Joe Duffy will be travelling the country in a 'Local Heroes Christmas Special' and 'The Zoo: A Christmas Special' (RTE One, December 27) returns, featuring all our favourite keepers and animals.
Sports fans can look forward to a range of specials, including 'Jimmy's Winnin' Matches' (RTÉ One, January 3), the story of the Donegal football team and their extraordinary journey to Croke Park this year under the steely stewardship of Jim McGuinness.
'When Ali Came To Ireland' (RTE One, New Year's Day) tells the tale of the story of the boxing legend's visit to Dublin in 1972 for his fight with Al 'Blue' Lewis.
World No 1 golfer Rory McIlroy will have a candid in-depth chat with RTE Sport's Greg Allen (RTE Two, December 27).
It will be an emotionally charged Christmas in Carrigstown with 'Fair City' (RTE One, Christmas Day) as Judith and Tommy try to put a turbulent year behind them. Miriam O'Callaghan will ring in 2013 on RTE One and celebrate the official launch of The Gathering 2013 from the streets of Dublin, live from College Green, on New Year's Eve.
• Meanwhile, 'The Late Late Toy Show' was the most watched programme on Irish television this year so far.
An average of 1,319,000 viewers tuned in to watch this year's special, which was themed on the movie 'Shrek'.
It was six weeks in the planning – with some researchers assigned to the show months in advance – and 'X Factor' finalists Union J and more than 200 children, ranging in age from four to 11, took part as performers or toy-testers.
Executive producer John McHugh said: "We are delighted with the ratings. As always, the stars of the show were the children. But a huge amount of credit must also go to Ryan and the 'Late Late Toy Show' team, who worked extremely hard."