Thursday 23 March 2017

For one week only: I come to praise RTÉ . . .

Well, we're always quick enough to criticise RTÉ when it's deserved -- rightly so -- therefore it's good we should give praise when it's due, too. RTÉ Radio -- this includes all of their channels -- has just won a very, very prestigious award.

They were named Broadcaster of the Year at this week's New York Festival Radio Awards, defeating 183 competitors from 26 countries all over the world. This is the first time in 54 years an Irish station has won this award. And the plaudits didn't end there: In the Same Boat won Gold in the Documentary section, Medea won Best Drama, and Don't Go Far won the grand-sounding Grand award, among a whopping 17 wins for the national broadcaster.

So well done, RTÉ. Normal bitchy services resume next week! And speaking of bitching, my ears almost fell off with the amount of dumb, annoying comments made all week, across the airwaves, about the nationality of champion golfer Rory McIlroy. Is he British? Is he Irish? Why isn't he one or the other? Why are we celebrating him? Why are we not celebrating him?

Stop! Surely to God the only thing that really matters is this: he's a golfer. He plays golf. Ergo, nobody should be paying the slightest bit of interest one way or the other, regardless of what flag he flies.

Meanwhile, Newstalk's Breakfast Show had a very good interview with Gerry Stembridge, one of the most interesting writing minds this country has produced in recent decades. Of course, the Limerick man is more than just a writer: He's a movie director, actor, comedian, broadcaster ... a veritable man of many talents.

He's also a pretty cool guy, and always worth a listen. Here Stembridge discussed his new book, Unspoken, a novel based on the facts and details of life in the 1960s, with a semi-fictional take on the likes of Charles J Haughey and Donogh O'Malley.

His most famous work, of course, was the radio satire Scrap Saturday. At the risk of sounding like a heretic, I never thought it as good as everyone said.

But Stembridge is a man of formidable talent, not to mention great humour and charm, and this was a fine little piece.

dmcmanus@independent.ie

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