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Gaybo 'received death threats' over Late Late features

Gay Byrne tells The Sun that the Late Late Show’s frank discussion of topics like homosexuality made him a public target.

Gay Byrne says that while the number of letters he receives has fallen since retirement, he still receives hate mail.
Gay Byrne says that while the number of letters he receives has fallen since retirement, he still receives hate mail.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive

LEGENDARY RTÉ BROADCASTER Gay Byrne has revealed that he regularly received hate mail and occasional death threats while presenting the Late Late Show.

Byrne – who has only hosted occasional TV broadcasts since retiring from the Late Late in 1999, and now acts as chairman of the Road Safety Authority – told The Sun that he had previously received letters from people threatening to kill his wife and daughters, and burn down his family home in Howth.

But the 76-year-old Byrne simply put the hateful letters down to people who were offended at how he would regularly push the boundaries of social discussion during his Late Late tenure – with viewers offended by his frank discussion of topics such as condoms.

“I did a lot of things that deeply offended people when I was on The Late Late Show, and I dealt with a great deal of hatred,” he said.

“I always thought I was safe enough, because if someone’s going to kill you, they’re not going to take the time to warn you about it first.”

Some more conservative viewers had been “shocked and very angered” by the show’s frank displays of condoms, pre-marital sex, abortion and homosexuality, he felt.

“I got death threats. People would threaten to set fire to my house, kill my wife, kill my children.”

He had refused to allow the threats affect his working or personal lives, however – even enough, he said, he still received the angry letters.

Byrne also told The Sun that he had been offered a number of moonlighting jobs while he was working in the UK – including one to manage an up-and-coming band called The Beatles.

“I introduced them for the first time on television. The third time they were in, Paul [McCartney] said they had no agent and asked me if I would manage them.”

Read more in the print edition of the Irish Sun >

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Gavan Reilly

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