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'Masterful' Uncle Gay enthralls full house

TO whom it may concern, aged 77 and after 50 years in the business, Gay Byrne added another achievement to his impressive CV last night when he performed a sold-out one-man show at Dublin's Gate Theatre.

While celebrating Dublin supporters streamed down Parnell Square, Ireland's greatest living broadcaster appeared immaculately attired in a dress suit as he posed for the cameras in his dressing room just moments before he was due on stage for the benefit night in aid of the Irish Cancer Society.

"I'm hoping that because of Dublin's win today and the Aussies at the weekend, everyone will be in good form," Byrne said.

Already looking like Noel Coward, he sounded like he was channelling the theatre legend when he added: "One tends to want to put one's best foot forward rather than one's worst."

Asked if would be offering his headliner any advice before he went on, Michael Colgan, director of The Gate Theatre, joked: "If there's any advice going, we will be asking Gay for it. He's a terrific performer," he said.

Meanwhile, outside the theatre was filling up with the former 'Late Late Show' host's friends and fans.

"I'm expecting brilliance and genius and to be floored, then I'm going to invite Gay to the Grand Canal Theatre where he can make some real money for his charity," said long-time friend Harry Crosbie who arrived with the British Ambassador Julian King.

"I'm a big fan of Gay's. We did a lot of stuff around the queen's visit, which was very successful, and I'm sure this is going to be a great night," Mr King said.

Joe Duffy claimed to be already familiar with much of the material his friend would be performing on stage.

"I've heard Gay doing all these anecdotes at parties. I can sing better than him but I'd never have the neck to do something like this," he said.

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'Riverdance' co-founder Moya Doherty, who obviously attends the same soirees, joked: "Gay normally does these routines after several whiskies, so seeing him do it sober will be an interesting experience."

Senator David Norris said Mr Byrne should be congratulated "doing something new".

"Gay is a master of comic timing as anyone who has ever heard his Christmas cake routine on the radio will testify. This will be a masterclass," he said.

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