While the national broadcaster is packing the Christmas schedule with a healthy dose of new releases and classic movies, it’s the big New Year’s Eve offering that is likely to disappoint many.
Instead of a celeb-packed entertainment feast, viewers will be treated to the official launch of The Gathering 2013 live from College Green in Dublin hosted by, who else, Miriam O’Callaghan.
Ringing in the new year with an “official launch” of anything is sure to send people to the satellite channels or to the pubs. Gabriel Byrne almost certainly won’t be tuning in.
As with last year, the big ticket item in the entertainment bracket is the Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas Special, which will have two episodes.
In fairness to RTÉ, it is hitting the right note on the nostalgia front and TV50: Nighthawks Rehashed, looking back at the seminal chat show, is sure to be a hit.
Also, with more than 90 movies on the Christmas schedules across both channels, there is something for everybody.
The pick of the bunch are classics like Back To The Future, Dr Zhivago, and Blazing Saddles and blockbusters such as Avatar, Inglorious Basterds and The Bourne Ultimatum. And no Christmas would be complete without Maria, the mountains, and The Sound of Music.
Music lovers have a diverse range of programmes to choose from with specials with Michael Bublé, Mumford and Sons and the late Amy Winehouse.
Where RTÉ really has struck gold is with its offers in terms of sport. Jimmy’s Winnin’ Matches is the story of the Donegal football team’s journey to All-Ireland success this year under the stewardship of Jim Mc Guinness.
When Ali Came To Ireland tells the story of the heavyweight legend’s visit to Dublin in 1972 for his fight with Al “Blue” Lewis, while Rory McIlroy: The Interview is a must for golf nuts.
Managing director of RTÉ Television, Glen Killane, said he hoped the line-up would make it an enjoyable Christmas in challenging times.
“It’s been a tough year for everyone so at this special time of year we’re delighted to be able to put on a Christmas with plenty for our viewers to enjoy. I’m proud to unveil such a strong and varied Christmas schedule full of great home-produced programming and the best of international movies and entertainment in such challenging economic times,” he said.
The Late Late Toy Show was the most watched show on RTÉ this year to date, with an average of 1,319,000 people tuning in to watch the show.
The annual Christmas extravaganza also had a reach of more than 1.9m, proving that the show still seems to have a magical draw for Irish viewers year in, year out.
The RTÉ Player has received over 107,000 stream requests to date for the show, 47,000 of which were live simulcasts.
The theme of this year’s show was loosely based on the movie Shrek and there was a spectacular opening act with a performance of the hit song from the film.
The show had a record number of children from all over the country, with more than 200 performers and demonstrators taking part in the show.
The toy testers ranged in age from four to 11. X Factor semi-finalists Union J also made a special appearance, but it was the children again this year that proved to be the show stoppers.
The set was designed by Darragh Treacy, the award-winning RTÉ set designer and it was six weeks in the planning, though the production team had been researching this year’s show since earlier this year.