Friday 14 December 2018

Radio: Show has too many voices clamouring to be heard

 

Sarah McInerney Photo: Tony Gavin
Sarah McInerney Photo: Tony Gavin
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

So what exactly is the story with that unaudited allowance of €317,000 a year for the President? Sarah McInerney chaired a discussion of those Public Accounts Committee revelations on Late Debate (Radio 1, Tue-Thur 10pm), and as usual with a political bonehead like me, I was hardly any the wiser by the end of it.

In fairness, some of that can be blamed on the format. McInerney had no less than five different people in studio - politicians Pat Casey, Kieran O'Donnell and Rose Conway-Walsh, Sam McGuinness of the Simon Community and political journalist Daniel McConnell - which is at least two, if not three, too many.

Too many voices clamouring to be heard, too many individuals to keep track of, too much sound and fury signifying… well, not exactly nothing, but not quite a comprehensive education for the audience either.

For me, the main "take away", to use that horrible phrase, is that there's no oversight of the money; as McInerney put it, "nobody seems quite sure how it's being spent". We also discovered that this has been the situation for virtually the entirety of the State's existence, which is something close to mind-boggling.

How is that possible? I heard lots of "we need this and that" and "what must happen now is such-and-such" on Late Debate, but not a lot of explanation.

Sinn Féin's motion to evict Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, meanwhile, was all over the radio. The Hard Shoulder (Mon-Fri 4pm) and Lunchtime Live (Mon-Fri noon) on Newstalk, News at One (Mon-Fri 1pm) and Today with Sean O'Rourke (Mon-Fri 10am) on Radio 1, and that's just for starters.

Talk about sound and fury signifying nothing: the vote was defeated, as everyone knew it would be, and all that coverage was rendered, in the end, meaningless, even futile. As political drama, this stuff isn't bad entertainment; but in terms of a grown-up body politic doing an important job, it all seemed so stupid, a pointless pageant performance.

Superb entertainment was found on 15 Minute Drama (BBC Radio 4, Mon-Fri 10.45am). This week's show, under the Michael Caine-esque title 'Get Carter', devoted itself to Angela Carter's legendary short story collection, The Bloody Chamber.

Dramatist Olivia Hetreed adapted five of the stories for radio: the title piece, 'Wolf-Alice', 'The Tiger's Bride', 'The Erl-King' and 'The Company of Wolves'. She had solid-gold material to work with: Carter's original book is one of the most brilliant collections I've ever read, a dreamily unnerving reworking of classic fairy tales.

And these dramatisations did the source material full justice, with tight writing, understated acting and truly unsettling sound effects. Beware of the man whose eyebrows meet…

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