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Claire Byrne to make surprise return to TV as host of new quiz show Ireland’s Smartest

‘Ireland’s Smartest’ is billed as “an entertaining, modern and highly-challenging studio quiz show”

Claire Byrne will be hosting Ireland’s Smartest for RTÉ© Andres Poveda

Presenter Claire Byrne

Eugene MastersonSunday World

Claire Byrne is set to make a surprise return to TV screens – as the host of quiz show filmed in Virgin Media studios.

The Sunday World can reveal that one of RTÉ’s most high-profile stars spent last weekend recording the new series at the station’s fiercest competitor’s Virgin Studios.

The 47-year-old will present a series called ‘Ireland’s Smartest’, which is billed as “an entertaining, modern and highly-challenging studio quiz show that will see the best contestants in Ireland tested on their general knowledge and mental agility”.

However, Claire is not moving stations and ‘Ireland’s Smartest’ is being produced by an independent company and will be shown on RTÉ.

Presenter Claire Byrne

Claire started recording the series on Friday afternoon, and wrapped up her current batch of shows yesterday.

The glamorous blonde’s upcoming return to our TV screens follows hot on the heels of her shock departure last May as anchor of ‘Claire Byrne Live’ on RTÉ1, which she hosted from January 2015.

She has since been replaced in the same slot by Katie Hannon. Claire continues to present her morning radio show on RTÉ Radio 1, Today with Claire Byrne, which she kicked off in 2020.

She was revealed to have earned €350,000 in 2021. In 2019, she earned €250,000 presenting her radio show on RTÉ Radio One as well as hosting Claire Byrne Live. New figures show she got a pay rise in 2020, earning her a total of €282,917.

In 2021, her salary went up again, earning an extra €67,083 as a pay increase, with her 2021 salary at €350,000 with insiders maintaining she would be taking a pay cut this year as she no longer presents the Monday TV show.

The star said that she gave up her Monday night TV show to spend more time with her family and other commitments.

She is married to IT consultant Gerry Scollan, whom she wed in 2016 and the couple live in Co. Wicklow with their young children, two girls and a boy.

In January 2015, she said in an interview that due to financial commitments she could not afford to be a stay-at-home mum for her children.

Claire was previously married to radio executive Richard Johnson and that marriage ended in 2006.

Laois-born Claire grew up on a family farm near Mountrath.

She began her varied broadcasting career with East Coast radio and then worked with radio stations in Jersey.

Claire returned to Ireland shortly after to take up her first television job as a reporter on the TV3 before heading to London to be a news anchor firstly with Channel 5 and then with ITV News.

She was then lured back to present Ireland AM on TV3 and replaced Gráinne Seoige as the main presenter of TV3’s News at 5.30.

Byrne joined Newstalk in 2006.In 2010, she presented her last breakfast show with Newstalk before moving to RTÉ where she co-presented, until March 2012, ‘The Daily Show’ with Dáithí Ó Sé.

In a major shake-up of news broadcasts on RTÉ in early 2013, Byrne joined the current affairs programme Prime Time as an anchor joining Miriam O’Callaghan and Pat Kenny.

In 2014 it was announced that she would have her own current affairs show, Claire Byrne Live, which started on RTÉ1 in 2015, securing at scoop with Colin Farrell asking voters to vote ‘Yes’ in the Marriage Equality referendum.

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