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nostalgia trip Reeling in the Years returns tonight - and looks back at Obama's pints and Katie's title belts

RTÉ's ever-popular show is set to take viewers on a journey from 2010 to 2019

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Reeling in the Years (2010 - 2019) is on RTE One tonight

Reeling in the Years (2010 - 2019) is on RTE One tonight

Reeling in the Years (2010 - 2019) is on RTE One tonight

A wild US election, seven Dublin All-Ireland wins, a Queen's visit, Ireland's first defeat of the All Blacks, a tsunami in Japan, the #MeToo movement, two general elections, an earthquake in New Zealand, Obama's pint of Guinness in Moneygall and a €67.5 billion bailout… it is safe to say that RTÉ was not short of stories when it was compiling the latest series of Reeling in the Years.

The archive show has been one of the jewels in the station's crown since it first launched back in 1999, but non-stop repeats can only satisfy part of our obsession with the years gone by.

So, when RTÉ announced last month that it was coming back with the highly-anticipated series spanning from 2010 right up to 2019, social media went crazy.

But before we get the kids to bed early before their return to school tomorrow so we can put our feet up in front of the nostalgic show, Magazine+ decided to chat with the man who first came up with the idea - and who still makes it all come together.

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President Barack Obama enjoys a pint of Guinness in Moneygall in 2011

President Barack Obama enjoys a pint of Guinness in Moneygall in 2011

President Barack Obama enjoys a pint of Guinness in Moneygall in 2011

"Leaving stuff out of the episodes is way more stressful than deciding what has to go in," explains producer John O'Regan.

"I really only have space and time for 25-30 news items per episode which means you have to let a lot of things go. Some stories get between two and three minutes while others only get 20 seconds.

"It's hard to know what to prioritise but one thing that isn't up for debate is the length of the episode. That is the one thing that won't budge so that puts pressure on us as a team to keep it to the strict half an hour show."

So how about making each episode an hour long? "We have talked about that a lot. Especially throughout this season when you have big years like 2016 to cover.

But when we ran old episodes of Reeling in the Years back-to-back, the stats showed that the second episode had a dip in viewers.

"So, the decision was made to keep it as half an hour. Don't get me wrong, it's fast TV. You are glued to the footage while reading the script and listening to the music. There is a lot going on, but we know it's a popular show and have worked on it tirelessly for so long to get this season ready."

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Reeling in the Years producer John O’Regan

Reeling in the Years producer John O’Regan

Reeling in the Years producer John O’Regan

Speaking of action-packed 2016, how on earth did he cram it all in?

"With great difficulty," John laughs. "We had the Brexit vote, a general election here, the Euros where both the Republic and Northern Ireland qualified, the Rio Olympics and Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton.

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"Each of those chapters could have been half an hour in length.

"But our strength is being able to chop it right back to short chapters. I have to admit though, some of the later episodes in this series aren't finished yet. We still have some work to do on them. The opening few are finished, so don't panic!"

Tonight's opener is 2010 and will take viewers on a trip down memory lane to a time that feels like an eternity ago. It started with -16.3C, which was Ireland's coldest spell in 50 years.

There was the Icelandic ash cloud, Google's 'Street View' came to Ireland and Limerick's Rubberbandits boasted about having a Horse Outside. That year also saw the opening of the Aviva Stadium, the launch of the iPad and the start of Love/Hate on RTÉ.

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Horse Outside by The Rubberbandits

Horse Outside by The Rubberbandits

Horse Outside by The Rubberbandits

Broadcaster Gerry Ryan died that April, while in Britain's general election, David Cameron replaced Gordon Brown as prime minister. There was a tragic earthquake in Haiti and 33 miners were trapped in a Chilean mine for 69 days. And there was the EU-IMF bailout.

John adds: "One of the things that was different about this season is that we have far more footage thanks to all the different news channels and user-generated content, which is basically a fancy name for camera phone videos.

"Over the last decade we've watched news unfold live so we are in a place now where we can't just trawl through black and white archives that people haven't seen in decades to create the show. We need to make sure that we include the right stories for the right amount of time and try to offer the best angles and footage.

"Then there's the music. I usually start with around 80-plus songs from each decade and I whittle it down to 30-50 before bringing it to the edit room.

"We won't include songs just for the sake of it or because they topped the charts. The songs have to match the images.

"So you won't always get a string of number one hits, but you'll get music from the same year and hopefully with a link to the pictures we are showing you at the same time."

Given its runaway success, then, should we expect to see Reeling in the Years US or UK any time soon?

"We haven't sold it on because it is not ours to sell," the producer answers honestly. "Archive shows have been done way longer than we've been doing them.

"I used to work in Granada Television and there was a show called Rock 'n' Goal Years, which was a play on the BBC show The Rock 'n' Roll Years. It was a simple concept - create a montage of old footage and put it to music.

"When I came back to Ireland and they wanted ideas, I gave them four or five and Reeling in the Years was one of them - although I didn't have a name for it at the time."

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Love/Hate which aired on RTÉ between 2010-14

Love/Hate which aired on RTÉ between 2010-14

Love/Hate which aired on RTÉ between 2010-14

Finally, are there any Twitter-worthy 'wow' moments in this series?

"Lots, to be honest," says John. "I also think 2011 is an unbelievable year - Obama and the Queen's visit, President Higgins getting nominated, Stephen Cluxton's free kick, the general election, the Arab Spring and a whole host of natural disasters, which will have everyone talking."

Before we get a chance to feast our eyes on that episode next Sunday though, we have tonight's highlights from 2010. Don't miss all the action, fun, memories and music on Reeling in the Years on RTÉ One at 8.30pm.

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