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He might be new to radio but O'Connor is the real thing


Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

I remember the first time I saw Brendan O'Connor on TV: it was the late 1990s on Don't Feed the Gondolas, a pretty lame attempt at "panel" comedy. I didn't like the show, and really didn't like him: I thought O'Connor was smug, snide and sneering, topped off by that annoying Cork whine.

Now, I've warmed to the guy since then. But even if I hadn't, I'd still say this: it's important that people like Brendan O'Connor are on our radio and TV - because there's something real about him.

The personality, the approach, the sense of humour, his whole weltanschauung (and yes, the accent - in fact, especially the accent): whether you love or hate him, O'Connor is real. I'm quite fond of him, I think he's empathetic and nicely ironic, but that's neither here nor there - the key thing is, he's authentic, and authenticity is in short supply.

Broadcast media usually plays it safe with presenters who are bland and inoffensive, but often totally devoid of anything approaching a normal human personality. O'Connor's not one of them.

He comes across as someone you could have a few pints with, and the conversation would actually flow back and forth; it wouldn't be like talking to a robot. The pair of you might disagree (or might not), but at least you'd feel you were talking to a human being, not a construct, a sentient assemblage of broadcasting tics and clichés.

Last week, famously, O'Connor's Saturday Night Show was cancelled. This week he filled in on The John Murray Show (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 9am) - his first radio presenting gig, as far as I know.

It went fine: after five years of entertainment-driven telly, the enjoyable mid-morning mix of fluff and human interest stories wouldn't be a bother. I have no doubt that this is but the first of many jobs on radio.

And I welcome it, I must say. In a broadcasting world of second-hand personalities parroting third-hand opinions, in the same fake accents, he's something genuinely different.

Switching topics totally now, Newstalk are currently running a Spring Season of Drama (Sun 10am). Matches was written by Sean O'Connor, produced by Daithi McMahon and directed by Fred O'Connor - the team behind last year's superb William Melville: The Queen's Detective.

Matches was drawn on a smaller canvas and didn't quite scale the heights of that thrilling drama, but was thought-provoking and very enjoyable nonetheless.

It pulled a nice little trick on the listener, actually, in that you start out thinking this is going to be about dating and romance in the modern world, but it's actually about something much darker and more serious - though also, in the end, moving and uplifting.

Indo Review