TV & Radio

Thursday 10 July 2014

RTE's male broadcasters keep sending out all the wrong signals

television

Declan Lynch

Published 24/08/2008|00:00

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Failte Towers

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(RTE1)

The Road To Croker

(RTE1)

Laurence and Jackie's Northern Exposure

(BBC Norn Iron)

IHAVE a theory about John Creedon, the winner of Failte Towers. It's not exactly a scientific theory, just a few hunches that have come together to create what I feel is a coherent and all-embracing view of the universe as it relates to John Creedon, and his role in RTE. Because it seems to me that "Creedo" is not rightly appreciated out there.

He seems to be appreciated by the general public, who chanted his name in the pouring rain outside Bellingham Castle -- "Creedo-o, Creedo-o" -- yet it seems that they do not chant his name with such fervour in the higher echelons of RTE.

Again, this is not a scientific analysis, and for all I know, they might love the big guy out there, moving him from his daytime position and giving him that late-night radio show because they feel it is a prestigious slot, which can only be filled by a broadcasting behemoth. And yet... it would be hard to imagine one of RTE's frontline daytime jocks in Failte Towers in the first place. Why would he chance it? So here is my theory, which I leave with you this morning, to make of it what you will -- though doubtless you will agree with it straight away, recognising its searing truth.

John Creedon is perhaps not as high in the RTE pecking order as he might be, essentially because he is a man, or too much of a man in the conventional sense, with his deep love of sport, and his deep love of music. Apart from those who specialise in these areas, this is a surprisingly rare combination, in our leading RTE broadcasters. There are some with a deep love of music, and some with a deep love of sport, but you will rarely find a love of both, in the same man.

Which makes many of RTE's leading men strangely unrepresentative of their gender, in this country. Gaybo may have subconsciously set the tone for this, with his lack of enthusiasm for sport. And while he is a lover of jazz, he didn't really bring it to work with him -- you'd rarely hear him on his morning show, fervently urging his listeners to familiarise themselves with the latest re-mastering of an old Benny Goodman waxing. But Gaybo was a one-off in many ways. So it can be seen, not as a deliberate policy, but a happy accident, that he kept these male preoccupations low down in the mix, in a context in which his listeners were largely female.

Accidental or not, in RTE's next generation it has become almost institutionalised. Gerry Ryan likes his music, but seems immune to sport. Ryan Tubridy is messianic about The Beatles, but seems to be less engaged than most Irishmen, with sport. Pat Kenny knows everything there is to know about both music and sport, but then Pat knows everything there is to know about everything. And Joe Duffy is relaxed on both fronts. It's quite a subtle thing, really, because it involves the absence of something in them, which is present in John Creedon, due to his full-blooded passion for football. Not that he ever laboured the point when he was reaching that largely female audience on his lunchtime show. Yet when a man is given to such passions, he is bound to release these primal energies, into the atmosphere. And according to my theory -- which I have now proved -- these are regarded as the wrong energies to be releasing, during the hours of daylight.

IT worked for Bertie Ahern, but then Bertie wasn't relying on RTE for his success. He could communicate the fullness of his personality to the people beyond Montrose, as Creedo did on Failte Towers. So when he presented The Road To Croker last week, he was reclaiming his soul from the Tribunal, establishing himself again in the public mind as an uncomplicated Dub, surrounding himself with other simple souls, such as Jimmy Keaveney and Paddy Cullen and Paudie O'Shea. Colour co-ordinated and deeply relaxed as you would be, if you weren't running Ireland any more, there was nothing in his performance to suggest that Bertie couldn't continue to work as a presenter of light-hearted GAA programmes for as long as he wants to. Daytime radio might not be the place for him, just yet.

BUT it is most certainly the place for Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, a male with most of the usual male enthusiasms taken out. In Laurence and Jackie's Northern Exposure -- a strange six-part jaunt to promote all things Norn Iron -- one was reminded of the terrifying series To The Manor Bowen, where we learned that many of Laurence's media engagements are undertaken to satisfy wife Jackie's incessant demands for home improvements. On this little "earner", they put a pint of stout in front of him and while a few sups had been taken, Laurence was never seen to drink. And yet, in a startling continuity gaffe, a few moments later, the glass was half-empty. I just hope he and Jackie are enjoying the new wing.

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