Sunday 11 December 2016

Lots of new shows but will it be quality or just quantity?

Published 14/08/2015 | 07:00

Kathryn Thomas, left, and Aoibheann McCaul
Kathryn Thomas, left, and Aoibheann McCaul

A few days ago RTÉ was heavily criticised for the amount of repeats it was airing. So it's probably understandable that the national broadcaster, in announcing the 2015/16 autumn schedule for RTÉ One, emphasised just how much new material we'd be getting.

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Indeed in his press statement, channel controller for RTÉ One, Adrian Lynch, used the word "new" no less than four times in two sentences. And in fairness there are no less than 53 new shows, ranging across drama, lifestyle and documentary.

So the point is made: this season on RTÉ One, we can expect a lot of new programming. But will it be good programming? What will be worth watching?

Drama is the prestige genre of television. I suppose it feels like this is something artistic to be doing; something a bit closer to the theatrical stage and silver-screen than the workaday confines of telly.

So this season, the two biggies are 'Clean Break', a gritty crime story about a 'tiger' raid; and 'Rebellion', an Easter Rising drama with a big cast.

The latter, I'm sure, will be impeccably well-made, well-meaning, lavishly produced, and somewhat dreary, as these historical dramas usually are; the former sounds like it'll be tight, tense, shocking and entertaining.

Documentaries are prestigious too, in broadcasting terms, and there's a bucket-load of fresh ones coming our way. 'Ireland's Wealth Revolution', the latest from David McWilliams, is probably the one that catches the eye first.

'Death of a Son - The Killing of Michael Dwyer' should be compelling, if uncomfortable, viewing. 'Murder in Melbourne' investigates the disturbing amount of Irish people killed in Australia.

On a lighter note, 'Stetsons and Stilettos' is a fond look at the enduring - not to mention incomprehensible - popularity of Country'n' Irish. And the newspaper man in me looks forward to 'Inside the Paper', about three family-owned local papers.

The rest of the entertainment/lifestyle spectrum is mostly the usual mix of softly lit food stuff, soft-focus religious stuff, soft-soaping celebrity stuff, and a few soft-headed ideas for game shows and reality contests.

Irish Independent

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