Joe Dolan: A Ryan Confidential Special
For many Irish people, the death of Joe Dolan, on St. Stephen's Day of last year, marked the end of an era. The overwhelming reaction to Joe's death revealed the extent of the affection in which he was held by the Irish public. But Joe was not merely a hugely popular singer, he was a pivotal figure in the development of the Irish entertainment industry.
Joe's career crossed five decades - and as many continents. He was the first mainstream Irish entertainer to enjoy major success all over the world - topping the charts in Australia, South Africa, Europe and South America. He could have pursued a glittering international career, but, instead, he chose to remain based in Ireland - never leaving his home town of Mullingar for very long.
Although he enjoyed great recording success - selling tens of millions of records - Joe remained the definitive live artist, bringing his unique voice, which brimmed with excitement, commitment and passion, to countless audiences.
He had an army of devoted fans - for whom there was "no show like a Joe show". They became a kind of extended family for Joe - and he was fiercely loyal to them. Joe's band was led for 47 years by his elder brother Ben. It was Ben who first recognised Joe's potential as an entertainer when he asked him to join the band.
Five years ago, Joe Dolan was the subject of an edition of "Ryan Confidential". Now, Gerry Ryan has revisited that programme in a "Confidential Special". This contains material that was not included in the original broadcast - as well as archive footage never before seen on Irish television.
The Special includes interviews with some of those who acknowledge Joe's originality as a performer - as well as his contribution to the Irish entertainment industry. Those taking part include Louis Walsh, Keith Duffy, Albert Reynolds, and Joe's brother, Ben. Of course, no programme about Joe would be complete without his fans - and many of them are also featured.
At the heart of the Special, however, is a portrait of a remarkable individual. Joe enjoyed much material success - and had a career of extraordinary longevity. But he was also able to inspire deep affection in a great range of people - and, perhaps, that is why so many people were affected by his death.