Northern Ireland

Irish chat show Late Late reels back 50 years

Gay Byrne in his famous 'frosty' interview with Gerry Adams
Image caption Gay Byrne in his famous 'frosty' interview with Gerry Adams

It is the world's longest-running chat show.

From Ballybunion to Buncrana, Ireland pulled up a seat on a Saturday night to watch interviewer Gay Byrne lay on the old velour and jab the rapier.

Back in 1960s, Byrne - famous for his catch phrase: "And there's one for everyone in the audience" - was the talk of the country.

Roll on 50 years and the show is still running, albeit with a new presenter at the helm.

But it has a golden history of moments that stand out.

It was once said there was no sex in Ireland before television - and in its glory days, the Late Late Show drew back the curtain and laid bare sex and politics and rock 'n roll.

It presided over a nation apparently scandalised about a bride's "transparent" nightie.

It went on to become a nation doubly scandalised over the woman who had a son with the Catholic bishop of Galway, Eamon Casey.

1966 was the "Bishop and The Nightie scandal".

Byrne asked a married man what colour the nightie was that his wife wore on honeymoon. He said it was transparent and his wife said she had not worn any. The Bishop of Clonfert Dr Thomas Ryan protested vigorously at the content of the Late Late Show.

It caused national outrage. Some people thought the programme was "filthy dirty" and "smut" after that - which probably boosted viewing figures no end.

Roll on a quarter of a century and Gay Byrne's1993 interview with Annie Murphy who had a child with the Bishop of Galway ended very frostily.

Byrne remarked that Eamon Casey's son would be fine, if he was "half the man his father" was.

Image caption Annie Murphy talks about her affair with the disgraced Bishop of Galway

"I'm not so bad either," Murphy said icily, before she got up and left.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Brooke fell foul of the show in 1992. He was coaxed into singing Oh My Darling Clementine. But this was on a day when seven Protestant workmen were killed in an IRA bomb. Unionists were outraged and shortly afterwards, Brooke resigned.

In 1994, after the lifting of a ban on Sinn Fein speaking on the Irish airwaves, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was interviewed by Gay Byrne. It was memorable because of Byrne's hostility and his refusal to shake hands with the SF president.

In 1999, journalist Terry Keane conducted an interview in which she spoke of her long affair with former Irish prime minister Charles Haughey. He went into hiding from the media as a result.

The Irish Late Late Show has kept its finger on the pulse of a nation for 50 years and it is celebrating in style.

Holywood actor Liam Neeson, singer Imelda May, crooner Daniel O'Donnell and folk legends Horslips will be there to join in the celebrations on Friday evening.

Presenter Ryan Tubridy who took over at the helm three years ago will be joined by former presenters Gay Byrne and Pat Kenny for the show.