Patrick Kielty’s first Late Late Show nets 830,000 viewers - a 22% jump on Ryan Tubridy’s last outing

Presenter says murdered father was at ‘forefront of mind’ as he made debut hosting flagship RTÉ show, which hit peak viewership of 934,000 at one point

An average of 830,000 people tuned into Patrick Kielty’s first outing as the new host of The Late Late Show last Friday, according to figures published by RTÉ.

In a statement, RTÉ said Mr Kielty’s first show had a further 158,000 streams on the RTÉ Player, with a 62 per cent audience share on television.

The national broadcaster said the show, which featured former president Mary McAleese and comedian Tommy Tiernan among the guests, had a 65 per cent television audience share among 25-44 year olds. It had a peak viewership of 934,000 people at any one time and a total average viewership figure of 830,000 people.

The viewing figures for the RTÉ One show published on Monday were provided by Tam Ireland and Nielsen, two companies who track television audiences.


The headline figure was a 22 per cent increase on the average audience of around 680,000 recorded for former presenter Ryan Tubridy’s last show earlier this year.

In a post on LinkedIn, Alan Tyler, RTÉ's group head of entertainment, said the positive viewership figures were a “true testament” to the team working on the show.

There had been a 500 per cent increase in the numbers who watched the show on the RTÉ Player, when compared to the first show of the season last year, he said.

Mr Kielty was announced as the new host of RTÉ's flagship chat show in May, with his first episode in the presenter’s chair last Friday. He took over from Mr Tubridy, who finished up as The Late Late Show presenter after nearly a decade and a half in the role.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Kielty described his debut as an “amazing night” and he has been inundated with good will messages since Friday.

His late father Jack, who was murdered by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) in 1988, and his mother Mary were at the “forefront in my mind” he added when delivering an emotional monologue at the start of Friday’s programme.

Mr Kielty revealed that his father was a pioneer until he was 40 but then started to drink brandy and lemonade. Somebody, who had known his father, had left him a bottle of brandy and lemonade on Friday night in his dressing room, but he didn’t know who it was.

“One of the most important things for me was to be able to wake up on Saturday morning and say that I enjoyed it. You’ve got to get those nerves out from the back of your head and have fun with it. Ultimately the audience decides if they want to watch a show, but you have to be yourself. That’s the nature of it.”

Speaking at the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) launch of a new report on the future of tourism in Ireland, Mr Kielty said he recalled how his father had to erect a special aerial to get RTÉ because of their proximity to the Mourne Mountains. During the Troubles, The Late Late Show was “flicking a switch into a world that was normal”.

When asked by host Dearbhail McDonald if the audience can expect more Northern voices on the show, after Ms McAleese and Republic of Ireland footballer James McClean were guests on Friday, Mr Kielty responded by stating that a two-times president and Irish footballer were worthy guests.

“They might just have come from somewhere else. I felt I did an Irish show on Friday night with Irish guests. The brilliant thing about this island is that there are lots of stories to tell.

“To be host of The Late Late Show is to be in an incredibly privileged position, to be sitting in a chair where the most important people in this country come and they have a chat.

“With that conversation and every other conversation, it is about being honest with each other and why you believe it. When I was doing documentaries on Northern Ireland, I was sitting down with a loyalist who was part of an organisation that had killed my Dad. I wasn’t going to be sitting with him not being honest and he wasn’t being honest with me.

“It’s about listening and understanding. The more we can keep conversations going, the more we can respect whatever your tradition or opinion was.”

Recalling his life growing up in the North during the Troubles, he said his village of Dundrum in Co Down had 500 people but two primary schools, one Protestant and one Catholic. Many people from the North did not meet someone of the opposite persuasion until university.

The Good Friday Agreement was not an agreement as such, he said, but an “agreement to disagree in a peaceful manner.”

He told the 600 delegates in attendance that the Irish public should stop seeing the island in tourism terms as North and South and see it instead as outsiders see it - as one island.

Mr Kielty said the peace process had transformed the North in terms of a tourism destination. “There is an amazing energy up there. So many businesses that didn’t exist are all tourism based.”

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times