'Lucy Kennedy's not missing much' - Pat Stacey on RTE's summer TV schedule
I’m in need of a Band-Aid. It’s required to repair my broken heart. The breakage was caused this week by the news that Lucy Kennedy actually cried a few years ago, because she didn’t think RTE liked her for who she was.
In Lucy’s own opinion (and isn’t our own opinion of ourselves always more important than other people’s?) she was “a ballsy bird” and she thinks this may have worked against her during her eight years with the national broadcaster, especially when it came to her chances of landing big, prestigious presenting gigs like The Voice of Ireland and... er, The All-Ireland Talent Show.
Realistically, Lucy, who’s currently gearing up to present TV3’s version of old shiny-floor warhorse Blind Date and presumably not having to resort to joining food queues just yet, should know that careers in TV can fall every bit as fast as they rise. Just ask Gráinne Ní Seoige, who did present The All-Ireland Talent Show.
So you’ll search in vain for Lucy’s name among the details of RTE’s summer season line-up, which were released at almost exactly the same time she was pouring out her heart. You’ll search in vain for Gráinne’s name too, unless it’s as co-host of Crimecall.
Come to that, you’ll also search in vain for other things, primarily the kind of imaginative commissioning spark that once gave us drama series like Strumpet City, Bracken, Family, Prosperity and Amongst Women; daring single plays like Eugene McCabe’s King of the Castle and Heno Magee’s Hatchet, as well as any number of 1960s adaptations of the classics, and comedies like Paths to Freedom, Bachelors Walk and Trivia.
That kind of ambition — which, in terms of population size, made RTE in its early days one of the biggest single producers of TV drama in Europe — perished a long, long time ago. The “can-do” attitude has been replaced by a “This will do” one.
The summer schedules are not a complete washout; that would be some feat, even by RTE’s generally poor standards.
The Imelda May Show is usually entertaining, even if the standard of guests doesn’t always match that of the show on which it’s modelled, Later with Jools Holland.
Collusion, a one-off documentary exposing the dirtiest sides of the dirty war in Northern Ireland looks promising. So does McGeever, in which reporter Brian Carroll follows the hoary trail of former property developer Brian McGeever’s alleged kidnapping.
Things then tail off sharply. Last year’s utterly vapid fly-on-the-wall series The Shelbourne is followed by a similar one about The Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney.
The Long Shot is a reality show about how Cecelia Ahern’s husband, David Keoghan, bought half-a-million euro worth of young horseflesh in a bid to take on the racing’s biggest names. Who cares, frankly?
Who cares, either, about A Legacy, three individual documentaries about Brian Lenihan (senior or junior is not specified), Tony Ryan and Páidí Ó Sé? We’ve heard their stories before.
John Creedon gets yet another road trip show, Creedon’s Wild Atlantic Way. Obviously, no one in RTE was paying attention to Christine Bleakley’s recent series, which trod the same ground — and very entertainingly too.
There’s also another bloody cookery show — there’s always another bloody cookery show! — featuring Derry Clarke, Catherine Fulvio and Paul Flynn relating the history of Irish cooking. Bring on the bacon and cabbage.
It’s a largely dispiriting list, although not as dispiriting as the news that Miriam O’Callaghan’s softball chat show is returning. Lucy’s not missing out on much.