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Forty more years? Ryan Tubridy is going nowhere yet as he promises fun 'post-pandemic' Late Late

RTÉ’s long-running chat show will celebrate its 60-year anniversary in 2022.

Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy.
Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy.
Image: Andres Poveda

RYAN TUBRIDY HAS said the new series of The Late Late Show will be “back with a bang” and will be “optimistic, positive and hopeful” in tone to reflect “post-pandemic” society.

RTÉ’s long-running chat show will celebrate its 60-year anniversary in 2022 with Tubridy saying that he hopes to “stick around for a little more” after 12 years in the hot seat.

The Late Late Show will return on Friday 3 September with RTÉ as yet unable to confirm whether the show will have a live audience for the first episode of the new series.

Speaking to reporters yesterday as RTÉ launched its autumn season, Tubridy described the question of an audience as a “fluid” one that could change at any point over the next few months. 

The presenter said the show will “have some class of an audience” at some point in the autumn but that he’s not sure if that will be in time for the first show in two weeks.

The Late Late has been broadcast without an audience for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, with Tubridy previously stating that he only wanted an audience back in studio when people were allowed meet up themselves

He says even this is not clear cut:

We’re wondering how much we can kind of meet again. It’s in play, that’s what I’d say to you. This story is so fluid that we have to keep an eye on it. So if they tell us at one stage it’s this number we’ll say ‘great’. But it could be that just before the show comes back the government will say you can have 200 in a room, we just don’t know.

If an audience is allowed in studio, he says they’ll have to present a Digital Covid Cert, as is the case in entering pubs and restaurants throughout the country. 

“They (the audience) will be vaccinated because we have to protect our crew and families’ health. Inch by inch we will get there. I can’t give you a number but I can give you a promise that there will be an audience in the autumn. First show back? Well whatever the chat show version of the Child of Prague is, it’s sitting outside the studio door.”

Early during the pandemic, the Late Late Show was quite Covid-heavy and regularly featured public health officials and doctors speaking about the worsening crisis

Tubridy denies that that show got “too serious” throughout 2020, saying it was merely reflecting a national mood. Despite this, he’s keen to emphasise that the new series will put a premium on fun and entertainment. 

It never got too serious and simply reflected the time we were in. I wouldn’t ever say that. But what I would say is that there is a huge appetite for reflecting where we are now. And I think we are now heading towards the ‘roaring twenties’, so called. And I think with that in mind people will want and expect more by way of entertainment. I mean, you’ve got to understand that within the last two years we’ve had amongst the highest viewing figures we’ve ever had on the Late Late Show, so it wasn’t that the people at home felt that the guests or whatever were down on them. In fact, they very much welcomed those guests because they were learning and they were listening.

He adds: “I think we’re ready for brighter days ahead. And we’ll reflect that too. It won’t be full of pollyanna; we’ll be reflecting the reality of life in Ireland on a given week. But it certainly will be a sort of post-pandemic sense of TV, which I’m very excited about.”

The Late Late also made regular use of Zoom during the past 18 months when it featured interviews with several high-profile celebs remotely. 

Tubridy says he wants these kinds of remote interviews confined to the past but that he may consider them for “guests of great significance”.

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“That’s the past, what you saw in the last 18 months is behind us now. This is The Late Late Show reboot. We are back with a bang. We are optimistic. We are hopeful. We are positive. We are post-pandemic in so many ways. Obviously we know there’s still things going on, but we are extremely excited about what the possibilities are in this hyper-vaccinated country.”

Tubridy adds proudly that the Late Late is the only such TV chat show that’s being broadcast live, with others in the UK and US still mainly using pre-record. 

This he says is part of the reasons he wants to stay on as presenter for the foreseeable future – his RTÉ colleague Miriam O’Callaghan briefly took the reins last year when Tubridy himself had contracted Covid. 

“It’s unique and we’ll do what we need to do to keep that going. We’re 60 years in business, I’ve been there for 12 of them and I’m going to be sticking around for a little while more.”

So will they be going big for the 60-year anniversary?

“We’ll have to mark it. I mean we went large with the 50th but you know 60 doesn’t have the same ring to it as 50. So maybe come back to me when I’m presenting the 100th, that could be fun.”

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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