News Darragh McManus

Thursday 18 September 2014

Here's one we made earlier - station is set for life without 'The Street'

Published 28/08/2014 | 02:30

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Jane McGrath will star in 'Red Rock'

TV3 launched its autumn schedule in a strange sort of position. In a few months, UTV Ireland begins broadcasting and takes most of TV3's big-rating shows: Coronation Street, This Morning, The Graham Norton Show, I'm a Celebrity and several others.

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The proverbial sword of Damocles hangs over the Ballymount operation, but it must carry on regardless of this uncertain future. It's an invidious position to be in.

As part of the effort to shore up defences against the January exodus, TV3 has upped the game considerably in home-produced programming: over 50pc of next year's schedule is Irish-made.

The flagship, I presume, will be Red Rock. Described as "Ireland's first 21st century soap" - whatever that means - it airs twice weekly from January . . . around about the time the inhabitants of Weatherfield pitch tents to UTV. It's a pretty bold move by TV3: while soaps are guaranteed audience attractors, they're also difficult to get off the ground.

Of more interest to me is Smalltown, from award-winning writer and director Gerard Barrett, a six-part drama about two twenty-somethings beginning life anew in London.

Same goes for The Guarantee, a feature-length adaptation of the play by Colin Murphy (our theatre critic). With Love/Hate's Peter Coonan among the cast, it revisits the night Ireland was essentially indebted for billions - what could be more dramatic than that?

Sports broadcasting - Rupert Murdoch's famous "battering-ram" - forms another central plank. TV3 lost GAA matches this year to Sky but have won back Champions League and Europa League rights, and exclusive live coverage of 2015's Rugby World Cup.

There's an impressive amount of factual programming, mostly "serious" with a little light-relief. Islanders - following the lives of three offshore families for a year - and Revolution in Colour - which uses old Pathé newsreels to tell the story of Ireland's independence - look the pick of the bunch.

Tonight with Vincent Browne returns - as does the ill-judged and stupid People's Debate - boo.

Entertainment sees some new shows and some returned favourites: the usual stew of nonsense, celebrity, lifestyle, silliness and blather, which is pretty much what you want from telly entertainment. I personally won't be watching much of this stuff but lots of people love it. (The Lie - a gameshow where you've to fib for money - looks particularly good fun. Sure, talking around the truth is a national pastime.)

Overall, then, an impressive, ambitious offering from TV3 . . . which makes 2015's upheavals even more unfortunate. They'll be hoping this mix of drama and documentary is enough to keep viewers loyal.

Irish Independent

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