FORMER Westlife star Nicky Byrne is to be one of the two hosts of RTE summer music show The Hit.
Already used to playing in vast arenas, the 34-year-old will join co-presenter Aidan Power live on-stage at the O2 in July when established names perform the songs of unknown songwriters.
Running in the Friday night slot of the Late Late Show, The Hit will be one of the biggest talent shows ever aired by RTE.
Insiders have revealed they needed a presenter used to appearing on big stages to anchor performances during the six-week run at the O2.
"Not only has Nicky performed with Westlife at the O2, but he has also co-hosted the Cheerio's Childline Concert a number of times in the same venue for organiser Caroline Downey Desmond.
"Except this time Nicky will be co-hosting a television show," said a show insider.
The Nicky Byrne/Aidan Power team replaces MTV's Laura Whitmore, who presented the original pilot of The Hit, which aired last year as part of RTE's Format Farm.
Producer Philip Kampf said: "It's going to be much bigger and better than the pilot and for that reason we need two presenters, not one."
Beginning on Friday July 26, each week two well-known singers will cherry-pick songs from unknown songwriters, who will only discover if their song has been selected when the acts take to the stage.
At the end of the competition, two songs will go head to head and be available to download on iTunes, with the winner being whoever gets the most downloads.
Ratings for rival RTE talent show The Voice Of Ireland had been strong, but winner Keith Hanley only managed to reach no 37 in the Irish charts.
But The Hit insiders are more optimistic.
Sidelines, the winning track performed by Royseven from their show pilot last year, topped the Irish iTunes chart, with runner-up Invisible by Brian McFadden reaching number 3, with demand crashing Irish iTunes after the final last September.
U2 producer Steve Lillywhite will again assist in the selection of songs, which songwriters can submit through applications available on the RTE and IMRO website.
Nicky Byrne also covers for Ryan Tubridy on May 29, when the Late Late host takes a day off from his 2fm radio show to celebrate his 40th birthday.