It might be the longest running chat show in Europe, and the second longest running in the world after The Tonight Show, but The Late Late Show wasn’t Ireland’s first such programme.
That honour belongs to a programme called Visitor’s Book, first broadcast in January of 1961. It was hosted by singer, broadcaster and regular contributor to The Ray D’Arcy Show, Arthur Murphy, who joined Ray in studio to talk about his lengthy and colourful career in show biz. After its first few months, Arthur says, “A fellow called Gabriel Mary Byrne was given a thing called The Late Late Show to see how it would go during the summer.” Needless to say, it went well.
Arthur wasn’t reliant on a job as a TV host. He was able to turn his hand to producing and directing, as well as presenting, both in Ireland and abroad, but his first love was music.
After knocking on several doors, he found his way to the office of Eric Robinson Music Productions and somewhat reluctantly accepted a job in a chorus. Arthur quickly rose through the ranks, earning a solo spot and landing a role in Robinson’s BBC television show Music for You, and his singing career went from strength to strength.
He sang alongside Beniamino Gigli, “the Pavarotti of the day” and had a big hit with a version of Molly Malone produced by Sir George Martin of Beatles’ fame, all of which he hoped would give him a little extra clout with the ladies! He met his wife Patricia at a dance hall, and was determined to use any possible advantage to coax her into a date.
“I saw this young lady, she was tall… and I wanted a tall girlfriend! I liked the cut of her jib so to speak, so I was determined to stay with her when I got a dance with her and I thought the way to impress her was to do a few Irish whoops and so I was digging a hole all the time!”
Neither his Irish charm nor his music or television success could turn the lady’s head but eventually fate played its part, throwing them together again by chance and what followed was an almost 60 year marriage until Patricia’s death last year. Arthur struggles to cope with the loss.
“I lost a lot of weight and it’s had a debilitating effect on me. It hasn’t been easy at all and it’s very difficult to talk about her… She was a special lady.”
The chat barely scratched the surface of a fascinating life both in an out of the spotlight so Ray says to stay tuned for Part 2 in the near future.
Click here for the full interview.
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