‘It has been a privilege’: Ryan Tubridy to step down from The Late Late Show

Broadcaster will end his 14-year reign hosting RTÉ's Friday night chatshow at the end of the current season

RTÉ has announced that Ryan Tubridy is to step down from The Late Late Show.

The broadcaster, who is only the third long-term host of RTÉ's flagship chat show, said he would leave the Friday night television programme at the end of the current season.

Tubridy will preside over his final edition of The Late Late Show on May 26th on RTÉ One. He will continue to present his radio show on weekday mornings on RTÉ Radio 1.

RTÉ said it had not yet made any decision about who will replace him and indicated an announcement about a successor will be made “later in the summer”.


“It has been a privilege to host the national institution that is The Late Late Show for the last fourteen years. I want to thank the tremendous teams of producers, researchers, crew and executives who have done the hard work to keep the show on the road over the years. Many have become dear friends,” the presenter said.

“Also, to the viewers, I am so grateful for the loyalty you have shown to The Late Late Show, week in, week out. Not only did you raise €30 million for Irish charities including over €15 million for children’s charities all over the island that are particularly close to my heart, but you showed incredible generosity of spirit for which I am profoundly grateful,” he said.

“I was often touched by the kind comments of viewers stopping me on the street or at the supermarket on a Saturday to say ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ for highlighting an issue that affected them or their families on the previous night’s show. Go raibh maith agaibh. And finally, to my family who stood by me every day of every week, year in, year out. To my daughters especially, they put up with so much and I am as grateful to them as I am awestruck by them.”

RTÉ's outgoing director general Dee Forbes thanked Tubridy for his “enormous commitment” to the show.

“The Late Late Show is a TV phenomenon at home and abroad which continues to hold a special place in Irish life and Ryan can take enormous credit for that. He had big shoes to fill, but he has made the show his own over the past fourteen years.”

Ms Forbes in particular highlighted the “transformation” of The Late Late Toy Show into “a national event celebrating Irish children”, saying its status as the most-watched television programme in Ireland every year is “testament to his talents as a broadcaster and his ability to create a unique connection with children and audiences all over Ireland, and beyond”.

She added: “There are so many great memories and special moments to look back on, and more to come, which we will rightly celebrate in the months ahead.”

Historic show

The presenter’s stint on The Late Late Show began positively in 2009. The live entertainment programme, a blend of interviews with well-known people, discussion about social issues in Ireland and music, began on RTÉ in 1962, in the first year of the Irish public service broadcaster’s television service. It is the second longest-running television chat show in the world after the Tonight Show on US television.

The show was presented in the main by Gay Byrne until 1999, with its success in helping to shape conversations in modern Ireland attributed to his skills as a broadcaster. Byrne was succeeded by Pat Kenny, who hosted the show for a decade before passing the baton to Tubridy.

While the average audience of The Late Late Show eventually began to decline over the course of his tenure, this reflects the pattern for television viewing more generally, and is unlikely to be reversed under a new host.

Names mentioned in connection with the position include Claire Byrne, Brendan O’Connor, Miriam O’Callaghan and Sarah McInerney, who are all familiar to RTÉ audiences. All have substantial, wide-ranging broadcasting experience.

RTÉ director of content Jim Jennings said Tubridy had been a “fantastic custodian” of the programme.

“Having worked closely with Ryan over the years, I know, first hand, his passion for The Late Late Show. I look forward to continuing our work with Ryan on his radio show and discussing future projects with him.”

Tubridy is RTÉ's highest-paid presenter, receiving €440,000 for The Late Late Show and his radio show in 2021. This figure fell from pay of €495,000 in 2019 after RTÉ sought to save money in contract negotiations with on-air talent.

Unless he takes on other work for the broadcaster, he can expect his pay from State-owned RTÉ to drop, as Ray D’Arcy’s did – from €450,000 to €305,000 – after his Saturday night chatshow came off air.

Annual chaos

Looking back, Tubridy said: “As I reflect on my time at the helm, I realise that we experienced extraordinary times as a country in that period. During the pandemic particularly, the viewing figures bear testament to the fact that many families across Ireland tuned in as we tried to make sense of it all. In a time of massive disruption and fragmentation of media and fake news, trust matters and I hope The Late Late Show offered that over the years.”

Of the Toy Show, he said: “I will especially miss the annual chaos of the Toy Show and while millions of viewers got to see the thousands of children who made it onto the live show, I saw lots more hopeful singers, messers, dancers and musicians at auditions throughout the country. Suffice to say, I am incredibly positive about and hopeful for the next generation and the contribution they will make to this country.”

The presenter, who has done several holiday stand-in runs on BBC Radio 2 in the past, said he loved and would continue to host his Radio 1 show, which runs from 9am to 10am Monday to Friday, and would talk about other projects in the future. He indicated these would reflect his interest in books, history and Ireland.

“But that’s for another day. For now, we have exciting plans for the remaining shows this season. Stay tuned.”

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics