With RTÉ One’s Claire Byrne Live set to end after seven years, we take a look at some of the top moments of the current affairs show that launched a thousand memes
Tonight will see the curtain come down on the Claire Byrne Live for a final time after seven years on RTÉ One. During that time, it has explored every issue from the Covid-19 pandemic to two general elections and Brexit.
It has also provided some key water cooler moments for viewers which, thanks to social media, have spawned viral views and endless memes.
Here we take a look back at some of the most memorable segments from Claire Byrne Live as it exits the stage on a high.
It was October 2021 and the UKIP leader went off on a rant, asking why did the Irish “fight the British for 500 years”. "What was the point of it if you're now governed by European Commissioners?” he said.
Trying to hide her laughter, Byrne said viewers might be “entertained” to watch a clip of him delivering a birthday greeting to someone, which prompted an apology from Farage. “I want people to see just how much you know about the history and culture on this island,” she said.
Her producers then played a video of him recording a birthday message in which he says: “I hope you enjoy a few pints with the lads tonight. Up the ‘Ra!”
She then alludes to the fact that he got paid “87 quid, that’s entirely with your rights to do that”.
"But come on. don’t try to lecture the Irish people about the culture and history and precarious nature of peace on this island. You haven’t got a clue,” she added.
In May 2020, in what looked like the dullest pub session ever, Byrne took a trip to McCoy’s bar on the Fair City set. But she wasn’t alone – Joe Duffy and Nuala Carey joined her, sitting at tables spaced two metres apart while writer and publican Billy Keane served them drinks. Not one to hold back, Duffy said that this was “worse than I thought it would be”.
"I knew there was going to be distance, but I thought it would be more intimate and that you could have a conversation, but you can't. You can't really have a conversation unless you bellow,” he said.
RTÉ viewers were left less than impressed with the new pub set-up, calling it “depressing”.
A week later, there was another Covid scenario played out, this time on board a pretend plane with pretend passengers. Viewers were treated to the strange sight of Byrne perched between two mannequins wearing facemasks as she discussed with journalist Eoghan Corry how travel would operate post-Covid.
Byrne told him: "The airlines, we know, are planning for a return to flying in the very short-term and we've brought in some – they're not my friends now these people – they're your friends, I think are they? So, we wanted to just mock-up what it might look like.”
The pair then talked about how the Hepa air filters installed on airplanes will be a key weapon against the spread of coronavirus during flights and reduce the need for social distancing.
The gloves came off in October 2020 as the Tánaiste spoke out against Nphet, chaired at that time by chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan.
Mr Varadkar said the advice to close down the country and bring back Level 5 restrictions was “not thought through” with the Cabinet instead moving to Level 3. The suggestion from Nphet had apparently blindsided the Government as it had come “without prior consultation”.
"We considered it very carefully and we decided not to accept the advice at this time," Varadkar said. But he insisted he still had confidence in Dr Holohan. He received scores of messages afterwards from viewers supporting his stance.
Proving he didn’t take himself too seriously, the show’s resident celebrity immunologist appeared on the set in a giant “bubble” in order to illustrate how the public could attend gigs and concerts again in a safe manner. A concept spawned from a show put on by the Flaming Lips in the US, Prof O’Neill was joined by comedian Bernard O’Shea as they discussed whether this could be a viable option for concert-goers.
Viewers watching at home were quick to react, describing the space bubbles as a “freaky dystopian nightmare”.