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The Late Late Show soon developed into a forum for contentious opinion and debate, involving topics such as divorce, contraception and a number of areas hitherto unspoken.
Much of the populace, especially in the south and west of Ireland, had no previous experience of television, and many were unprepared for The Late Late Show bringing such discussion into their homes (large swathes of Ireland were rural and devoutly Roman Catholic). Flanagan, whilst guesting on the show, proclaimed there to have been "no sex in Ireland until Teilifís Éireann went on the air", reflecting this greater indiscretion.
Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles Mc Quaid, was confronted by a guest in the show's first series—a sensational and unprecedented event.
Many more such events would follow, each contributing to the folklore and mythical qualities of The Late Late Show.
Byrne would remain host for thirty-seven years, "retiring" at the close of the millennium (he "unretired" several times afterwards to present such programmes as The Meaning of Life and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
); as of September 2009, Byrne's thirty-seven years remains the longest period through which any individual has hosted a televised talk show.
Two common formats were used: the first—a series of interviews of celebrity guests, most of whom could be defined as Irish or British and involved in the entertainment industry;the second—a defined topic involving live discussion from a panel and studio audience.
It has influenced attitudes of the populace towards approval or disapproval of its chosen topics, directed social change and helped shape Irish societal norms.However, after one year, Byrne returned to RTÉ to present his old show, supplemented by his own radio show.A minor furore erupted in 1966 when the Bishop of Clonfert condemned The Late Late Show as immoral and Gay Byrne as a promoter of "filth".In response to Byrne's question that Flynn knew Gilmartin, Flynn answered; "Oh yes, yes. This led to Flynn's career being effectively ended, because the government would not endorse him for reappointment to the European Commission after its mass-resignation that year.This "vanity platform" on The Late Late Show saw, as the Irish Examiner later referred to it, Flynn "managed to get both feet into his mouth and talk at the same time".