Thursday 19 September 2019

'To whom it concerns' - Late Late Show trades on nostalgia with new intro from Gaybo era

Gay Byrne on the Late Late Show in 1966
Gay Byrne on the Late Late Show in 1966
Gay Byrne and Sinead O'Connor on The Late Late Show in 1999
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Last week's Late Late Show, the first of its 58th season, featured a throwback to the show's heyday - the intro from Gay Byrne's era as host.

And Ireland's most popular chat show will continue to trade on nostalgia as the theme tune has been reinstated - along with the original footage of the familiar white owl flying against a black background.

Last week musicians of the national services played the rousing theme tune which had kicked off every show from the early 70s through to Gaybo's final show in May 1999.

The intro, from Chris Andrews' 1965 single To Whom It Concerns, returned to introduce host Ryan Tubridy as it had done Gay; "To whom it concerns...it's The Late Late Show... and here is your host, Ryan Tubridy".

The Late Late Show owl
The Late Late Show owl

The theme tune had been changed in 1999 when Pat Kenny took over, but returned when Tubridy began his tenure in 2009, albeit with a different arrangement performed by The Late Late Show house band.

While the format of RTE's biggest chat show has remained unchanged in the show's 57 years thus far, the intro change is one of several tweaks this season.

Roll on: Gay Byrne in the The Late, Late Show studio in 1969
Roll on: Gay Byrne in the The Late, Late Show studio in 1969

As well as the aesthetic (last season Tubridy dispensed with the desk and this season he is further ditching the formalities by losing his trademark tie), there are also changes behind the scenes.

Katherine Drohan has taken the reins as Executive Producer this year, having previously worked as Series Producer, while Jane Murphy, formerly Editor with Claire Byrne Live, has joined the team as Series Producer.

Maura Higgins with Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show, RTE One
Maura Higgins with Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show, RTE One

Speaking at the new season launch last month, Tubridy revealed that the show is undergoing something of a 'reboot' with a focus on building on the growing 15-30 audience (the show is now on Instagram) as well as maintaining their core audience.

"I don't feel it's a root and branch chance of scene but there's something in the air," he said. 

"There's a bit of change at the top of the show production wise and the team has evolved a bit and we're into a new sense of purpose with the show.

"There's so much happening in the country and the world that The Late Late Show has probably never been more relevant.  People want to watch Irish, they want to buy Irish, they want to see Irish and we'll do all of that."

The first show of the new season featured an almost all-Irish (except for Scottish singer Lewis Capaldi) line-up including Sinead O'Connor, Love Island stars Maura Higgins and Greg O'Shea, actress and writer Aisling Bea, as well as members of the Frontline Emergency Security Services.

Read more: 'Truly stunning' - Sinead O'Connor wows on Late Late with two powerful performances and dedicates Nothing Compares 2U to Prince 

The show drew an impressive average audience of 545,000 on the night with a reach of over 1m and a 49.1 per cent share making it the highest season opening since 2016.

Speaking about competing with streaming services, Tubridy added, "You can't download soul and we are soul.  We try to represent Ireland in any given week.  We're the town hall."

The second show of the season, airing on RTE One tonight, features Vicky Phelan, Michael Owen, Christy Dignam, Dermot Kennedy, Maeve Higgins, and Dermot Bannon and Diarmuid Gavin among the line-up.

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