RTÉ has launched its new season, with over 40 hours of new Irish drama, new entertainment shows, and returning favourites for the autumn and beyond.

Speaking at the virtual launch, RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes said: "Today, we unveiled a selection of programming for the months ahead with a particular focus on drama and entertainment that will see 40 hours of local Irish drama come to our screens in the coming months and in early 2022."

"Along with new entertainment shows and formats, we will welcome new faces and voices on our air as we support and seek out new Irish talent," she continued.

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Ms Forbes said RTÉ "will tell Ireland's story with a compelling slate of factual and current affairs output, programmes for young people, multi-platform arts and culture output and, of course, even more from RTÉ Sport".

She added that the new season "makes a compelling case for the need to sustain public service broadcasting, for our current generations and the generations to come."

New dramas include the eight-part crime saga Kin starring Clare Dunne, Aidan Gillen, Ciarán Hinds and Maria Doyle Kennedy; the money trail thriller Hidden Assets; the eagerly-awaited Sally Rooney adaptation Conversations with Friends; comedy-drama The Dry; the heart-rending Three Families, and Jane Seymour on the case in Dublin as sleuth Harry Wild.

Clare Dunne in Kin

For Smother fans, there's the news that the "Celtic Noir' is back for a second season of dark secrets, and Fair City will have all the twists and turns involving Will, Zak, Vinny, Hayley and co - and some returning favourites - four nights a week. The RTÉ Player will continue to showcase box sets, with Smother, Dublin Murders and Love/Hate among its offerings.

Saturday nights on RTÉ One will see Nicky Byrne hosting the new, karaoke-inspired game show Last Singer Standing, with a prize of €25,000 and Nadine Coyle, Joey Fatone and Samantha Mumba as panellists.

Mr Saturday Night - Nicky Byrne

Saturday night will also be the home of Angela Scanlon's Ask Me Anything, promising "plenty of surprises and revelations when Angela chats with guests who have agreed to be asked about absolutely anything".

The Late Late Show returns as it looks forward to its 60th birthday celebrations in 2022; Tommy Tiernan ushers in a new season of his talk show with a Christmas special; and Today with Maura and Dáithí turns 10 and welcomes Home School Hub's Emer O'Neill as its new presenter while Sinéad Kennedy is on maternity leave.

Ryan Tubridy will be celebrating the Late Late Show's 60th birthday in 2022

Also back are Room to Improve, First Dates Ireland, the Niall Breslin-hosted Soundtrack to My Life, Baz Ashmawy and the DIY SOS crew, Keys to My Life, Ireland's Fittest Family and The Style Counsellors, plus a new twist on a favourite in Celebrity Pulling with My Parents.

Love Island star Maura Higgins is at the helm as Ireland's best amateur make-up artists battle it out in Glow Up Ireland. There are challenges of a very different kind in Hell Week - The Professionals as 18 of Ireland's fittest from the world of sport and entertainment put themselves through the special forces wringer.

Maura Higgins hosts Glow Up Ireland

A "significant increase" in Irish-language programming has been announced, and the national psyche will be explored in GAFA, a new series "about the things that Irish people just can't seem to stop talking about". RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta will be resuming its full coverage of International, national and local programmes.

RTÉ Radio 1's Mise Freisin will see Ray Cuddihy showcasing the common thread in Irish trad, folk and hip-hop. On RTÉ 2FM, the Breakfast Show with Doireann Garrihy, Donncha O'Callaghan and Carl Mullan has more mirth and mayhem planned for the mornings.

GAFA - "the things that Irish people just can't seem to stop talking about"

For laughs, The 2 Johnnies are back for more; Sinéad Quinlan follows up her Seriously, Sinéad? success on the RTÉ Player, and Callan's Kicks returns on TV and radio.

For Oliver Callan fans, there's also the news that he will be recreating "key events in Irish history, with reaction to these events from contemporary characters" in his new show The Years. New talents will also have their moment to shine in a new comedy showcase series.

Oliver Callan will be stirring it up again

Young people’s programming sees the debut of Storybud, with Jason Byrne and Doireann Garrihy among those retelling children's favourites with added twists. There's also the comedy-drama X Marks the Spot; CGI-meets-live-action in The Imagination Machine and Will Sliney's Storytellers, with the renowned comic book artist hosting "an art show with a difference".

RTÉ Factual's slate will be announced this Sunday. Highlights include a documentary on the late RTÉ broadcaster Keelin Shanley entitled Keelin Shanley: Faraway, Still Close. The older generation's pandemic experiences will be explored in Cocooned, and the testimonies of those who worked in the notorious Magdalene Laundries will come to the screen in Ireland's Dirty Laundries.

Full details of RTÉ's Arts & Culture line-up will be announced next month, with highlights including the RTÉ Concert Orchestra performing new arrangements of the music of David Bowie; audio meditations on the work of Patrick Kavanagh on RTÉ lyric fm, a new series of The Lyric Feature, and a new season of The Lyric Concert.