Saturday 22 July 2017

Don't go back to Jadotville...

Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

CHANNEL HOPPER

CONGO 1961 SCARADH KATANGA

TG4, TONIGHT, 7.30

One of the darker moments in this country's history of foreign engagements is undoubtedly the scandalous treatment of Irish troops following the catastrophe at Jadotville.

Not for the first time, troops from a sovereign nation were led down the garden path by their useless UN commanders, and found themselves isolated in a remote garrison in the Congo, where they came under attack from troops loyal to then prime minister Katanga.

For decades, rumours of cowardice dogged these decent men who were betrayed by their superiors and the release last year of The Siege Of Jadotville, which starred Jamie Dornan, went some way to restoring their right to an honourable reputation.

When TG4 do documentaries, they tend to do them extremely well. In fact, some of the best docs ever transmitted on our screens have come from the Irish language broadcaster.

Expectations will be high for this two-parter from Irina Maldea and Brendan Culleton.

Tonight's opening episode (the concluding instalment goes out next Friday night) deals with the circumstances which saw the Irish troops, under Commandant Pat Quinlan, ordered to the garrison, and the mistakes, stupidity and bad planning which saw them placed in an unwinnable position.

There has been the undeniable sense that the redemption of the soldiers' reputation is too little, too late but still, better late than never at all.

This promises to be fascinating and stands out as the best TV prospect of the weekend.

Elsewhere, BBC4 do their usual Friday thang by bringing happiness to music lovers everywhere.

They're kicking off the night with Sound Of Musicals (9pm) but it's really the two programmes which follow that hold the most promise.

First there's Bowie At The BBC (10pm), an hour-long wallow in some of the great man's finest moments at the Beeb which, incredibly, goes all the way back to 1964.

But the centrepiece of the night is the brilliant David Bowie - The Making Of An Icon (11pm), which takes a look at five of his most seminal years. Anyone who watched it when it first went out recently will know that it's a fine piece of documentary-making about a man whose death a year ago left his fans genuinely bereft.

Let's put it this way, when I watched it the first time, my only regret was that I hadn't also recorded it, because this is one of those rare documentaries that you will watch as often as you listen to his music.

Unmissable.

The best of the rest tomorrow looks like the Imagine Marlon Brando special (BBC2, 9pm).

Irish Independent

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