Category: Archive

Gaybo mulls return with ‘Millionaire’

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — A winning combination of Ireland most successful TV chat show host and the company that launched "Riverdance" may be bringing "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?", the most successful quiz show of all time, to RTE later this year.

Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne is in talks with Tyrone Productions, which has acquired the Irish rights to the game show that has garnered record audiences in Britain and the United States and has already gone on release in 75 other countries.

"We are working on the possibility of doing the show," Byrne confirmed.

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 British show’s host is reputed to be paid more than £2 million a year to present it, but Byrne said that having worked with RTE for 40 years had had no "romantic notions" about his possible fee.

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In Ireland, there will have to be an Irish solution to an Irish problem with a new title for the show as the rights to the word millionaire are held by An Post’s National Lottery and this was confirmed by a High Court case last year.

An Post registered the use of "millionaire" in 1995 when it ran a scratch card and game show with the word in the title.

Byrne said he found it "absolutely staggering" that anyone could have the copyright to the word. "I think it is absolutely disgraceful however it happened," he said.

To cut the costs the company may film the Irish version in Celador’s London studio rather than set up a new studio in RTE’s Montrose headquarters in Dublin.

Tyrone, which is run by impresarios John Colgan and his wife, Moya Doherty, will also be looking at how the program could be financed in Ireland.

The couple have themselves became multi-millionaires for their conversion of the Eurovision interval dance routine into the hugely successful "Riverdance" show.

The Irish version will be sponsored. A spokeswoman for Tyrone said that in Britain 300,000 people phone in on 50p premium rate calls to try to get on each program.

She said they expected that similar phone revenue in Ireland would be "minuscule" in comparison.

"We will be looking to a combination of things," she said. "Obviously, the broadcaster will be putting in some money and there will be heavy sponsorship required."

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