On 6 July 1962 the Late Late Show went on air for the first time broadcast at 11.20 pm. At the time, it was unusual to have a live talk and entertainment show on so late in the day's viewing.

The following week the RTV Guide, as the RTÉ Guide was then known, included an article on the first broadcast. A small piece of broadcasting history was made when for the first time the RTÉ television programme schedule stayed on air after midnight.

On that first show, the guests were Count Cyril McCormack, Ken Gray, George Desmond Hodnett and Harry Thuillier. McGrath would go on to pioneer many other successful variety shows on Irish television.

Gay Byrne was to be the show's presenter and would remain so for the next 37 years. Pat Kenny replaced Gay Byrne as the presenter in 1999 and remained in that position for 10 years. The programme is now presented by Ryan Tubridy.