Cookies on Dublin People website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. We also use cookies to ensure we show you advertising that is relevant to you. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Dublin People website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time by amending your browser settings.
Hide Message
  • News

COMMENT: RTÉ did Gaybo proud last week

Monday, 11th November, 2019 7:59am
COMMENT: RTÉ did Gaybo proud last week

Gay Byrne pictured with Sinéad O’Connor at the 50th anniversary of ‘The Late Late Show’ in 2012. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

COMMENT: RTÉ did Gaybo proud last week

Gay Byrne pictured with Sinéad O’Connor at the 50th anniversary of ‘The Late Late Show’ in 2012. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

View More Images

IT’S difficult to add anything of substance to the glowing tributes paid to Gay Byrne last week.

RTÉ’s excellent coverage of the legendary star’s sad passing was a timely reminder that the national broadcaster can still produce unrivalled content at short notice, despite the financial crisis facing the organisation.

There couldn’t have been a more fitting tribute to Uncle Gaybo than the special edition of ‘The Late Late Show’ the day after he died. The star-studded audience, panel and musical guests provided a reminder of how respected and loved he was.

The archive footage of Gay Byrne’s most memorable moments was proof positive that he was a national treasure and a consummate professional. He was able to effortlessly segue from light entertainment to more serious topics, a difficult skill for any interviewer to master.

On radio, he was the comforting voice you heard on those rare occasions when you were permitted to stay off school sick.

When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to stay up to watch all of ‘The Late Late’, with the exception of the Toy Show. Most times, we would be ushered up the stairs with a warning from our parents that it was unsuitable viewing. As we got a bit older, we watched the programme somewhat reluctantly; bored by the bits that were too grown up but intrigued by the prospect of seeing a famous band perform.

I vividly recall ‘The Late Late’ tribute to The Dubliners, with U2 performing an amazing version of ‘Red Hill Mining Town’; the pious preaching of Fr Michael Cleary before his double life was exposed; and, of course, the controversial interviews with Annie Murphy, Gerry Adams, Padraig Flynn and Terry Keane.

Gay looked like a man who didn’t suffer fools, yet knew how to respect them. To others, he became something of a father figure, certainly to his younger colleagues looking for advice in a very challenging business. He was particularly avuncular towards singer Sinéad O’Connor during some of her more troubled times.

Some would argue that ‘The Late Late Show’ should have ended when Gay stepped down as presenter in 1999. Without him, the show just became a rebranded version of ‘Kenny Live’ and ‘Tubridy Tonight’, with forgettable interviews and, more recently, an unforgivable fixation with country and western music.

Like all media outlets, RTÉ faces major financial challenges ahead. It was unfortunate that news of the planned cutbacks broke on the week when Gay Byrne’s friends and colleagues were mourning his passing and, in particular, while the station was demonstrating what it does best.

Gay Byrne and Ryan Tubridy. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here