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Gaybo

Post 1

Recumbentman

Gay Byrne has just died, at a decently advanced age.

Unknown outside Ireland, he was the presenter of the Late Late Show on Irish television from 1962 to 1999. He also had a very popular and influential morning radio show, on the same station, RTÉ.

I respected him, I found him very sympathetic to most (though not all) of his guests, but above all, he managed to include his audience, just by his tone and body language, in a way some of his successors could never manage. When a guest dropped a quiet but potentially significant aside, he was prepared to abandon his line of questioning and pursue it, leading to some outstanding interviews.

He was head-hunted for American TV at one stage, and went over for talks with various stations. They had a problem with his first name, and asked could he use the full version instead. He refused, because a young Irish actor of the same name, Gabriel Byrne, was just appearing on the scene and he didn't want to get in his way. So they asked him, had he a middle name? He said, yes: Mary. No further progress was made.

When I had a barbershop quartet in the 90s (really, not just quoting The Usual Suspects here) we got a moment on his radio show and sang:

Gaybo, Gaybo, the whole day through,
Just an old sweet song keeps Gaybo on my mind
[...and so on...]
Other shows reach out to me
Other hosts compete for me,
But the voice of RTÉ
You know belongs to you...

In the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, he really was the voice of RTÉ. Good man.


Gaybo

Post 2

Recumbentman

Misquoted myself there, it was

Just an old chat show keeps Gaybo on my mind.

He was gobsmacked and incredulous when Bono and Larry Mullen came on the Late Late Show riding a Harley Davidson, which they then gave him to keep, knowing he had a penchant for motorbikes. He was curiously guarded rather than effusive in gratitude, as though he suspected it was a hoax, but it wasn't.


Gaybo

Post 3

Gnomon - time to move on

I was not a fan of Gaybo, but I could see he was very good at what he did.


Gaybo

Post 4

Recumbentman

I can see why all right. Still he was professional at all times and if he was calculatedly rude to some people, that was his agenda. It was rare.

My image of The Last Judgment was 'being interviewed by Gaybo.' TV is potent still, but it was much more so 40 or 50 years ago. Church and government feared and hated it, and did their best to control it, which Gaybo to his credit resisted powerfully enough.


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