Monday 19 August 2019

Shot through the heart by killer noir-style mystery with Radio 1's The Drama on One


Sligo-born author Alan McMonagle signing copies of his book of short stories 'Psychotic Episodes'
Sligo-born author Alan McMonagle signing copies of his book of short stories 'Psychotic Episodes'
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

I don't often tune into The Drama on One (Radio 1, Sun 8pm), not because it's bad - au contraire, the plays are often well-crafted - but because the tone and subject matter are generally downbeat, gloomy, dreary even. In my mind, the archetypal Drama on One involves a couple in late middle-age called John and Mary, drinking tea while discussing how they're going to tell the kids about a terminal illness.

A pleasant surprise, then, was Shirley Temple Killer Queen, a black comedy written by Alan McMonagle. Two sisters, both assassins, arrive at a bar for that classic "one last kill".

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Nyree Yergainharsian and Rebecca Grimes are Mel and Lu: sassy broads who give as good as they get. David Pearse is the slightly bewildered barman serving drinks - lots of gin, little else - and wondering what's going on.

The dialogue is snappy and zingy, like a slightly tongue-in-cheek film noir, and it's all great fun. I'm a sucker for noir anyway, so this was right up my (mean) street. And not a cup of tea or terminal illness in sight…

Reality TV thingie Love Island has ended. Maggie Doyle, standing in for Ryan Tubridy (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 9am) discussed the show with Ciara King, of Chris & Ciara (2FM, Sat-Sun 11am) fame, and I've never felt so old. Is this what passes for entertainment nowadays?

It's not that I'm a cultural snob, but talking about other people who spend all their time talking about their love lives? How boring that sounds. Whatever happened to proper mindless fun, like horror movies or hair-metal or drinking in a field?

Social media also makes my generation feel ancient; the judgmentalism, zealotry, groupthink and "pile-on" culture makes us feel positively terrified.

A podcast of the excellent Jon Ronson's book So You've Been Publicly Shamed has just been uploaded to the BBC Radio 4 website, and it's equal parts fascinating and disturbing. How quickly and easily someone's life can be ruined with one stupid tweet; Ronson investigated with curiosity and compassion.

Meanwhile, radio is still making hay out of Eoghan Murphy's "boutique hotel" comments, two weeks on. Which is fair enough, though something else occurred to me, listening to the now-famous quote, given to Newstalk Breakfast (Mon-Fri 7am), being repeated again on The Pat Kenny Show (Mon-Fri 9am).

Murphy's analogy was dumb - but was it as daft as presenter Kieran Cuddihy, just before, comparing co-living arrangements to being in prison? He may have meant it tongue-in-cheek, but such is the feverish, hysterical tenor of much radio these days, it's hard to tell.

Shared accommodation is like going to jail? Jesus wept.

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