Category: Archive

Byrne’s back with Irish version of ‘Millionaire’

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — Amid huge media hype, the Irish version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" made its debut on RTE this week with veteran chat show host Gay Byrne coming out of retirement to present it.

Launching the hugely successful quiz show is the company responsible for the money-spinning "Riverdance" phenomenon, Tyrone, and sponsoring the prize fund is Eircell, the mobile phone arm of Eircom.

RTE is hoping the 13-week run of the show every Tuesday will boost flagging ratings and follow the experience in other countries that has seen it become the most successful quiz show of all time.

The worldwide rights to the show are owned by Britain’s Celador Productions, which is run by a former "Late Late Show" researcher and friend of Byrne, Colman Hutchinson.

The Irish version is a clone of the British production and includes the established phrases like "Ask the audience," "50-50," "Phone a friend," and "Final Answer."

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Under what is described as the biggest sponsorship contract in Irish broadcasting history, Eircell are understood to be backing the venture to the tune of £5 million.

No one has yet made it through the 15 questions to scoop the £1 million jackpot in Britain.

Whatever about the contestants, the show appears certain to be a winner for RTE, Tyrone Productions and Byrne, 66, the doyen of Irish broadcasting.

Byrne set world records with his "Late Late Show," which ran for 37 years and his role as housewives’ favorite on a morning radio show that ran for 26 years.

Tyrone is run by impresarios John Colgan and his wife Moya Doherty, who became multi-millionaires for their conversion of the Eurovision interval dance routine into the hugely successful "Riverdance" show.

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