Harman Patil (Editor)

The Meaning of Life (TV series)

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Gay Byrne

Original language(s)

No. of episodes

Number of series

Original network


Country of origin

No. of series

First episode date
19 April 2009

Number of episodes

Talk show

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Also known as
'The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne'

Would You Believe, Ear to the Ground, Reeling in the Years, The Week in Politics, Crimecall

Stephen fry on god the meaning of life rt one

The Meaning of Life is an Irish religious television programme, broadcast on RTÉ One. Presented by Gay Byrne, each edition involves the veteran broadcaster interviewing a prominent public figure.


Interviews with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and actors Gabriel Byrne and Brenda Fricker during the second series attracted media attention. Ahern spoke of his religious habits, Byrne and Fricker of being sexually abused as children.

Ninth series

The ninth series began airing on 4 May 2014.


John Boland of the Irish Independent claimed the series became "more religious in thrust and tone as it progressed". He described the episode featuring Neil Jordan as a "bizarre encounter", in which the writer and filmmaker "grew more and more bemused" as Byrne questioned him in great detail about his religious faith. Jordan answered such questions as "Do you think your religion might return to you on your deathbed?" and "Do you think there's a day of reckoning?" with "I really haven't got a clue" and "I don't know, Gay" but when he commented that "every time I'm in a plane and it's hit by lightning I bless myself", Byrne replied "Hah!", as if, according to Boland, Jordan had "just revealed a basic faith in the Catholic Almighty rather than a reflex reaction to imminent catastrophe".

The Irish Times's Kevin Courtney said of The Meaning of Life: "The title is a bit grandiose – you could just as easily call it Tell Uncle Gaybo All About It.

Byrne prefers not to discuss his own faith:

Viewing figures

An average of 247,000 viewers tuned into the first four episodes of the series, featuring interviews with Farrell, Adams, Binchy and Keating. The episode featuring Keating attracted the most viewers, with a total of 258,000 reported. Next was the Adams interview, with 251,000 viewers. This was followed by the interview with Binchy which had 231,000 viewers.


The Meaning of Life (TV series) Wikipedia