Pretty much everyone watches films and telly, and hardly anyone has an actual aversion to them. Why, then, are so few shows devoted to them?
Fourteen Irish nominations at the Oscars — what better opportunity to review Screentime (Newstalk, Sat 6pm)? In the end, unfortunately, we took home only two awards, but not to worry.
Presenter John Fardy didn’t dwell on the annual Hollywood shindig, instead leading off this week’s show by interviewing actor Penn Badgley (amazing name) about his lead role in You, the smash-hit Netflix thriller series about, well, a really handsome psycho stalker. If that sounds kind of ludicrous, don’t worry: host and guest more-or-less agree.
Penn joked that the show “must be written by monkeys, because they love bananas plotlines”. It’s “a mix of high-art and camp”, he added, which in fairness sounds better than the sort of hideously tasteful “prestige” productions that usually win awards.
As does this week’s film-in-review, Scream 6, described by podcaster Paula Wiseman as an “extremely gory” version of Scooby Doo. Meanwhile author Cathy Kelly did the regular “my favourite movies” bit — she’s not the first to pick Some Like It Hot, and she won’t be the last. “I just love Marilyn Monroe,” Cathy enthused.
Fardy joined in the chat with the boyish enthusiasm and movie-buff nerdishness that make Screentime so reliably enjoyable. Not only that: it’s also one of those programmes where you repeatedly think, while listening, “why don’t more people do this?”
Not in the sense that it’s breaking new ground in format or hitting new heights in quality (though it is pretty good) or anything like that. It’s just that Screentime covers something which virtually everyone has some interest in — films and television — but for some odd reason doesn’t get much coverage on radio.
Yes, I know lots of you are more into sport or music or — ugh — current affairs, or whatever. But it’s an undeniable truth that almost everyone has some interest in movies and telly, no? And unlike other things, I’ve never met anyone who expressed actual aversion to them.
Whereas plenty of people are obsessive about sport — but plenty hate it too, yet this gets oodles of airtime (including three whole hours a night on Screentime’s station).
Many listeners “follow the news” — but many come out in a rash (guilty as charged) at the very mention of “The headlines first…”, and that comprises the bulk of talk radio.
Hell, there are even some — let’s be frank — utter weirdos out there who, amazingly, don’t like music. And that makes up about 80pc of the entire radio output worldwide. (Statistics via author guesswork.)
Yet very few programmes are devoted to the screen, big and/or small. Four or five have regular slots each week — which of itself isn’t a lot of minutes-on-air — and as far as I can tell, Screentime is the only full show on Irish radio covering it.
It’s one of the enduring mysteries of radio…sorrowful, not joyful or glorious.
As it turned out, this week’s Screentime wasn’t quite glorious either. It was a middling edition — not wildly entertaining, not a bore by any stretch.
That’s okay, it happens to every programme. And there should still be more of this stuff on radio.