'An honour of a lifetime': Emotional Patrick Kielty makes successful Late Late Show bow

'An honour of a lifetime': Emotional Patrick Kielty makes successful Late Late Show bow

PATRICK KIELTY made an emotional debut on The Late Late Show on Friday as the presenter won over viewers and provided RTÉ with a much-needed fillip after a trying summer.

Kielty, 52, became the fourth permanent host of the Irish institution, which boasted a new look to complement the new man after Ryan Tubridy's 14 years at the helm.

Now in a new streamlined 90-minute format, the presenter was joined by a host of big names including Mary McAleese, James McClean and Tommy Tiernan on the revamped show, which had a distinctly US feel.

And Kielty got the ball rolling in superb fashion by immediately addressing the elephant in the room — the RTÉ payments scandal — with a series of jibes at the broadcaster's expense.

However, it was his opening address that was most memorable as he revealed just how much it meant to him and his family, including his two young sons, to front the world's longest-running live chat show.

Bumpy journey to Donnybrook

"Before the border was drawn on this island, my granda Kielty moved from Wexford up to Co. Down," said Kielty.

"That trip wasn't exactly planned and he and his brother had to stop over here for a few years in Dublin in the industrial school in Artane.

"But his journey is the reason why myself and my brothers grew up watching this show on a Friday night in Co. Down with my mum and dad.

"I'm proud to say the Kieltys are still watching this show from Co. Down tonight — hello, mum — and some Kieltys are also tuning in here tonight in Dublin and down in Wexford.

"And there are two other Kielty brothers also watching tonight in London, way past their bedtime, who will now be able to say that their dad was lucky enough to host this show.

"Like so many of you watching this show tonight, my journey has had the odd bump in the road but it’s funny how things work out."

With his voice breaking, he added: "There's no way I ever thought that I'd be standing here this evening but I'm so, so happy I am.

"Thanks for joining me and it truly is an honour of a lifetime to be able to say, 'welcome to The Late Late Show'."

Kielty's debut earned the thumbs up on social media, with comedian Jarlath Regan calling his opening monologue 'an absolute masterclass in calling the moment'.

"Funny & from the heart — the hardest things to get just right," added Regan.

"This man is going to elevate the #LateLate to a whole other level."

Singer and independent senator Frances Black said Kielty 'hit the ball out of the park' while Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard described him as 'a natural in the #LateLateShow hot seat'.

Expenses jokes

The response will be a boost for RTÉ, which has been dogged this summer by the payments scandal that saw bosses grilled in the Oireachtas and licence fee payments slump.

In facetious fashion, Kielty bullishly addressed the controversy — as well as RTÉ's Toy Show: The Musical flop — much to the delight of the audience.

"What a treat it is to have The Late Late Show on again after the news," joked the presenter.

He then introduced the house band as Grant Thornton and the Flip-flops — a reference to the accountants commissioned to look into the broadcaster's finances and the revelation that €5,000 from an RTÉ barter account was spent on 200 pairs of flip-flops for a party.

Kielty quipped: "We're trying out a brand-new format tonight on the show where the host gets to ask the questions instead of having to answer them at the Oireachtas."

"We wanted to make a special effort for you tonight folks because apparently lots of folks are tuning in this evening, which is really very exciting," he added.

"Based on the latest figures for TV licence payments, we're expecting an audience of up to 27 people tuning in tonight!

"Just to put that into perspective, that's almost double the amount of people who saw Toy Show: The Musical.

"This is where the RTÉ executives in the green room realise they might have booked the wrong pony."