Ryan Tubridy's first Late Late Toy Show was the most watched programme of the decade on RTÉ, according to figures released today. The presenter, who was widely praised for his handling of the programme, wiped the floor with the other competition, pulling in 1.38 million viewers. One of his predecessors, Gay Byrne, hosted the second-most watched show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, in October 2000.
Over 1.2 million viewers tuned in to see the first Irish broadcast of the show, which ran for only two years before being dropped by RTÉ.
One of the most controversial football games in Irish history clinched third spot in the top 20, as over one million viewers tuned in last November to see Ireland robbed of a place in the World Cup by the now infamous Thierry Henry handball.
Other sporting events that attracted Irish audiences in their hundreds of thousands include the Ireland vs England Six Nations rugby match of 2007, which was watched by 1.2 million, and last year's grand slam decider in which Ireland clinched victory from Wales in a nail-biting finale. The grand slam game attracted 945,000 viewers.
According to RTÉ head of communications Sharon Brady, the top 20 "is entirely reflective of the major events which took place in Ireland over the last decade".
In politics, the Enda Kenny and Bertie Ahern leaders' debate on Prime Time was the 10th-most watched programme.
The debate saw the two go head to head on issues of health, personal taxation and crime.
Both parties claimed victory afterwards, with Fianna Fáil director of elections PJ Mara saying Kenny "fell apart". Fine Gael director of elections Frank Flannery hit back saying the debate showed Kenny was "ready to be the taoiseach".
At the turn of the millennium, almost one million viewers tuned into the Nine O'Clock News, as the dreaded Y2K bug, which was meant to destroy thousands of
computer systems, failed to materialise.
Our fixation on financial matters at the height of the boom was reflected in Eddie Hobbs' Rip-Off Republic taking in a peak of 838,000 viewers. The programme was a huge hit among viewers who voiced their outrage over being overcharged on such things as groceries, alcohol, transport and taxation.
In soaps, 878,000 viewers tuned in to see Biddy (Mary McEvoy) killed in a road accident in Glenroe in 2000.
However, Coronation Street is one of the decade's biggest winners, being the sixth-most popular programme. Almost one million watched in March 2000 when 13-year-old Sarah Louise Platt announced to her mother Gail that she was pregnant.
The figures were compiled by AGB Nielsen Media Research which also showed that RTÉ monopolised TV ratings for the decade.