Page last updated at 08:06 GMT, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 09:06 UK

Late Late show getting new face

Ryan Tubridy
Ryan Tubridy is to take over as host of the Late Late Show

The world's longest-running chat show is to get a new face.

Launched in 1962 as a short filler, the Late Late Show became the flagship Friday night programme for the Republic of Ireland's state broadcaster RTÉ.

Originally hosted by Gay Byrne, the current occupier of the interviewer's chair, Pat Kenny, announced he would step down in March.

He is to be replaced by Ryan Tubridy, who presents Tubridy Tonight, RTÉ's Saturday-night entertainment show.

Managing Director of RTE Television Noel Curran said the show was "a unique programme that involves entertainment, comedy, audience interaction and social discussion".

"Taking on the mantle of presenting the longest-running chat show in the world and a key entertainment brand for RTÉ is no easy task," he said.

Mr Tubridy said he had been "very taken aback" at the appointment.

"The Late Late Show casts a wide net across this island and it is a humbling honour to be asked to present such an iconic programme," he said.

Gay Byrne on set in 1966
Gay Byrne was the first host of the long-running show

Tubridy Tonight will not return in the Autumn Mr Curran said, adding that the network would be looking at whether they need two weekend chat shows.

"Maybe we do, but we want to take this opportunity to also look at other entertainment show possibilities," he said.

"There will be a new home-produced entertainment show for Saturday night and we will consider carefully what that show will be."

The show occupies two hours on a Friday night and has become a forum for controversial opinion and debate, tackling topics such as divorce and contraception.

It was condemned as immoral in 1966 by the Bishop of Galway after Gay Byrne asked a young woman if she could remember what colour her nightdress was on the first night of her married life.

She replied that she might not have worn one, a response received with laughter by the host and audience but the Bishop felt the need to protest against the "filthy" programme.

In 1992 Peter Brooke, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland appeared on the show and was coaxed into singing Oh My Darling, Clementine.

The same day seven Protestant construction workers had been killed by an IRA bomb.

Unionists were outraged at what seemed to be a moment clearly out of touch with grieving families, and demanded he resign.

In 2006, an intruder subjected Pat Kenny to a foul-mouthed rant live on air. The show went to an early commercial while the man was removed, when he came back on air Mr Kenny told viewers: "Sorry for that rude interruption".

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