Thursday 27 October 2016

Morgan's ghost still haunts Montrose

O'Carroll's dire stint as host is a legacy of past treatment.

Published 06/07/2014 | 02:30

Brendan O'Carroll
Brendan O'Carroll

There's a distinct difference between public service broadcasting and self-serving broadcasting. The line was crossed last weekend with RTE's invitation to Brendan O'Carroll to present the Marian Finucane slot on Radio 1.

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Saturday's show was a calculated risk and it came off as a novelty. After a nervous start, the comedian settled into the show and was at ease talking football with guests like Paul McGrath. A bit of easy and good-humoured banter and a bit of forgiveable mutual appreciation. His discussion about businesses in financial difficulties was also well-intentioned.

Sunday was a disaster zone. Dedicating the entire first 20 minutes to himself, O'Carroll was intent on giving his own views, rather than facilitating debate.

The panel was uncomfortable, appearing to know the format wasn't working, and stopped contributing. Thankfully, Joe Duffy was on hand to get the conversation back on track as, on occasions, O'Carroll sounded like a caller to Liveline.

On an agenda-setting programme, O'Carroll repeatedly displayed his lack of depth of knowledge on current affairs. When a guest pointed out the State did not "own the banks" and was only a shareholder in Bank of Ireland, he replied: "Really? Whatever." He had a cut about a review of his movie in The Irish Times, of which the newspaper, correctly, noted the following day: "Unfortunately, none of the comments referenced actually appeared in the paper".

The standard just wasn't high enough for a show on the national broadcaster. The experiment showed just how important presenters are, with the best broadcasters making it look easy because they are very well prepared.

All of which raises the question of why O'Carroll was handed a flagship radio show on the national broadcaster for two days? O'Carroll is in the limelight due to his film Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie - the latest manifestation of his highly successful franchise.

Although Agnes Brown was on the scene on these shores on radio and stage for years, the matriarch never made it to TV until the BBC spotted the possibilities for a sitcom.

O'Carroll's talents were appreciated more by British TV executives, similar to Dermot Morgan before him, who was immortalised as the star of Father Ted after years of frustration with various projects in RTE.

Spot the pattern: an Irish comic achieving their potential in an Irish-based sitcom, commissioned by a British TV network. Suddenly, RTE wants to reclaim O'Carroll.

Montrose executives having a guilt trip about not recognising the craft of one our own, where others did, is not a legitimate reason to subject the licence-fee payer to this self-indulgence.

Sunday Independent

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