Friday 9 December 2016

Television review: For this root and branch report, the root costs €400k

* The Late Late Show (RTE1)
* Hitler: The Rise and Fall (Channel 4)

Published 07/11/2016 | 02:30

Maura Derrane with co-presenter Daithí Ó Sé on RTÉ's Today.
Maura Derrane with co-presenter Daithí Ó Sé on RTÉ's Today.

They didn't mention it in their annual statement or anything, but as it happens, I did save RTE a lot of money in recent years - I even explained it to them in this column, when I argued correctly that since I started pointing out various errors of fact and errors of style which they were making in the sports department, there has been a certain improvement in that area.

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And in many large organisations, for that to happen, usually a firm of consultants would have to be engaged to produce a root and branch report, with the root costing something in the region of €400,000 and the branch an extra €250,000.

They got it from me for nothing, so I should mention, again free gratis, that I have noted of late a certain laxity in this area - on the Saturday evening news recently they had Bournemouth playing twice on the same day, and on a Sunday they gave the wrong year for the birth of Anthony Foley.

There is a pattern here, which you may have noticed already - it was the weekend. Again you'd pay the consultants top dollar for that kind of insight, but I will just leave it there as part of my public service remit.

And I couldn't help thinking recently that I could be bringing something to the Late Late Show too, if truth be told. That item on 20 years of TG4, in which Daithi O Se, Maura Derrane, and Hector were invited to roll back the years, could have been quite different - it could have been good.

Here was an excellent opportunity to have an argument about the very nature of TG4 and about attitudes towards the Irish language in general, a subject which is of enormous interest to people, as I usually discover when I write about it, and receive many responses telling me how wrong I am - though of course I am not wrong, I am right.

The Late Late was built on such arguments, not just on famous people dropping in to celebrate their continued success. And here was a situation where you could have had the stars of TG4 up against someone who takes a more rounded view of these matters - someone, in fact, like me.

Indeed this subject of the Irish language becomes most interesting when it is seen in the light of TG4, which is generally well-liked by intelligent people, who conveniently ignore the fact that there is a large amount of positive discrimination - or if you like, money - helping it along. And that this can create distortions and perhaps even injustices in other areas.

If you were running a TV production company, for example, would you not be more inclined to make a programme in Irish, given that your prospects of being funded for such a project may be somewhat better than that which obtains in the English-speaking world? And while you will be happy that your programme is being made, by making it in Irish are you also ensuring that it will have a smaller audience than it might have done?

I don't know, but I think that that particular Late Late Show would have been an ideal setting in which to ventilate some of these matters - and if they were having any trouble finding a ventilator, as it were, I would have been willing to let my name go forward. And everything would have been better.

Which leads to the inescapable conclusion, I suppose, that the Late Late would be better not just if I was on it, but if I was running it. Though I couldn't do that one pro bono.

***

Channel 4 is also mindful of its public service obligations, running a six-part series on Hitler: The Rise and Fall which ends tonight, neatly setting us up for the election of the new American President - a fine piece of scheduling there, which I will endorse with this warning: by this time next week the Western world may well be dominated by a person of limitless ambition, commencing a period of misrule which may well result in scenes of chaos on an unprecedented scale.

And hell, Trump would be no better, and might be considerably worse.

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