AFTER much speculation, Patrick Kielty has been confirmed as the new host of RTÉ's The Late Late Show.
The Co. Down native will replace current host Ryan Tubridy from next season as presenter on the long-running programme.
Kielty will become the show's fourth permanent host in its 61-year history, following in the footsteps of Gay Byrne, Pat Kenny and Tubridy.
Several names were bandied around after Tubridy announced in March that he would be stepping down at the end of this season after 14 years at the helm.
Claire Byrne and Sarah McInerney were among the favourites to take over but after ruling themselves out, Kielty became the frontrunner.
— The Late Late Show (@RTELateLateShow) May 20, 2023
Kielty, who will make his debut as host in September, said he was 'humbled' to be taking the reins.
"I’m absolutely thrilled to be the next host of The Late Late Show," he said.
"To follow in the footsteps of Gay, Pat and Ryan as the next custodian is a real honour and I can't thank RTÉ enough for giving me the chance to be a part of the next chapter of such an iconic show.
"I'm also genuinely humbled to become part of Friday nights for so many Irish people, at home and around the world.
"I can't wait to get started on one of the greatest jobs in television."
Rise to fame
Kielty, 52, grew up in Dundrum and was a talented Gaelic footballer before making his first foray into comedy at Belfast's Empire Laughs Back comedy club.
He hosted the Saturday morning show Sus on UTV in 1993 before fronting his own chat show, PK Tonight, on BBC One Northern Ireland.
In 2002, he presented BBC talent show Fame Academy, which he co-hosted with his future wife, Cat Deeley.
He has been a familiar face on the small screen since then, appearing regularly on panel shows and serving as guest presenter on British programmes such as The One Show and This Morning.
Kielty, whose father was murdered in 1988 during the Troubles, won a Grierson Award for Best Documentary Presenter for 2018's BAFTA-nominated My Dad, the Peace Deal and Me.
Later this year, he will star alongside Seana Kerslake in his first feature film, Ballywalter.
Despite his latest appointment, Kielty is expected to continue presenting his Saturday morning show on BBC Radio 5 Live.
Commenting on the Late Late's new host, RTÉ Director of Content Jim Jennings hinted the change could also herald a re-shaping of the flagship show.
"Patrick Kielty is undoubtedly one of Ireland's finest comedians, a fantastic presenter with a depth of experience, and a range of talents that will bring an exciting new dynamic to the show," he said.
"Patrick's personality and passion is sure to connect with audiences and I look forward to it bursting on to screens in September.
"We have very definite ideas for the show already in the works and we'll be busy behind the scenes shaping the series for launch.
"We'll be back in August to tell you all about it."
Tubridy's last episode as Late Late host is next Friday, May 26, with the presenter revealing on the penultimate episode that his swan song would feature a Late Late Toy Show reunion.