Producers ask Gay to be the first in the hot seat on 50th anniversary show
He hosted the chat show for 37 years. So there was no debate when it came to deciding who should be the first guest on the 50th anniversary special 'Late Late Show', which goes out tonight.
Despite an A List cast of top Irish acting talent, comedians, and even rival broadcaster Pat Kenny, who spent a decade at the programme's helm, producers have asked former host Gay Byrne to be the first in the hot seat for the milestone edition.
"Gay is, of course, the first guest on our 50th anniversary special.
"Presenting even part of the show would have been like putting Gay back to work, so he will be joining us an honoured guest. The man who started the 'Late Late Show' and brought it such success," an RTE source said.
The Irish Independent has learnt that although the programme has been planned for its usual duration, on this most special of nights, it really could be "the late late show" as RTE bosses have given a green light for the edition to continue into the early hours.
Although RTE has released an embargoed list of big name guests appearing on the special, the Irish Independent has learnt of other names involved, including Claudine Keane, Louis Walsh, Niall Toibin, Shane MacGowan, Stephen Roche, Barry McGuigan, Twink and Dustin the Turkey.
"Dustin has been the nemesis of every 'Late Late Show' host, so it's fitting that he appears on this 50th show. Twink is a showbiz legend and with the 'Late Late Show' from the very start," added a station spokesman.
RTE management, including chairman of the RTE authority Tom Savage, whose wife Terry Prone has been a regular panelist, is also expected to attend. However, two of Ireland's biggest music acts, U2 and Westlife, will not be attending due to prior commitments.
"The people who couldn't make it were genuinely disappointed, and we've had some lovely messages from them through the huge team of researchers we had putting the show together," added the spokesman.
Tonight's show will be in the style of ITV special 'An Audience With . . . ' boasting a celebrity audience who will begin turning up on a red carpet outside RTE at 7.30pm.
'The Late Late Show 50th Anniversary Special' airs at 9:35pm on RTE 1.