Thursday 22 February 2018

Comment: RTE's line-up for Celebrity Operation Transformation is lacking one thing - celebrities

This year's Celebrity Operation Transformation line-up: Kayleigh Cullinan, Mary Byrne, Gary O'Hanlon, presenter Kathryn Thomas, Triona McCarthy and James Patrice
This year's Celebrity Operation Transformation line-up: Kayleigh Cullinan, Mary Byrne, Gary O'Hanlon, presenter Kathryn Thomas, Triona McCarthy and James Patrice
White House briefing: Anthony Scaramucci got 10 days on the job
Long Johns
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

My tolerance for lesser-known celebrities is pretty high.

I have read Jodie Marsh's autobiography Keeping It Real, I love my daytime TV, and I once asked Pat Sharp of Fun House fame for his autograph.

I am definitely not one of those people who proudly and loudly proclaims 'Who?!?' when the cast list of Celebrity Big Brother or I'm a Celebrity... Get me Out of Here is released.

In fact, I'm usually thinking 'I was wondering what Linda Barker was up to these days?' and 'Did Sarah Harding just throw shade at Cheryl before going into the CBB house?'

I thought the line-up for last year's Dancing with the Stars was a great mix of the good, the bad and the frankly incompetent.

I was similarly impressed with the 2016 Celebrity Operation Transformation contestants - comedian Katherine Lynch, celebrity solicitor Gerald Kean, funny man Karl Spain, and RTÉ Radio 1 reporter Brenda Donohue.

And I applauded the billing for 2016 Celebrity Masterchef featuring national treasure/ Eurovision winner Niamh Kavanagh and Sonia O'Sullivan. However, like the majority of the country, I failed to watch any of the series as it was surprisingly dull.

Given all that, it's really saying something that even I was underwhelmed when RTÉ released the line-up for this year's Celebrity Operation Transformation - which includes X Factor singer Mary Byrne, beauty expert Triona McCarthy, chef Gary O'Hanlon, social-media influencer James Patrice and The Voice of Ireland 2015 contestant Kayleigh Cullinan.

Hardly sterling stuff, is it? Especially when compared to the unveiling of the CBB crew which includes TV medium Derek Acorah (a man who claims he can communicate with dead animals and Michael Jackson) and aforementioned Girls Aloud member Harding - can you imagine the D&M chats they'll have?

But back to Op Trans and their top billing. Firstly, 2010 X Factor contestant Mary Byrne.

Mary is a stock celebrity reality TV favourite - a salt of the earth type who gives it her all. We know Mary works well on telly because it feels like she's never really left our TV screens. Since the X Factor, she's remained in our peripheral vision - in the Cheerios Christmas Panto, on the telly and the radio, in newspapers, and a weight-loss related photoshoot in VIP Magazine.

Her inclusion makes sense but it's also totally predictable. In that regard at least, Mary differs from the rest of the contestants.

The rest aren't at all predictable because, well, I don't know if any of them could strictly be classified as celebrities - even within the modest boundaries of Irish reality TV shows.

Take Donegal chef Gary O'Hanlon, the head chef at Viewpoint House. The RTÉ press release tells me has been "cooking up a storm" on TV3's The Restaurant: hardly a strong recommendation given how forgettable the last series was. Then there's country and western singer Kayleigh Cullinan, journalist Triona McCarthy and social-media influencer James Patrice.

RTÉ seem to be obsessed with 'influencers' - instead of cultivating and nurturing new talent, or giving gigs to the young presenters, the broadcaster seems happy to trawl Snapchat to find out who might be the "next big thing". Its show Making it in Manhattan follows social media stars vlogging their way around New York and this month it is launching a new lifestyle 'advertorial show' aimed at women and hosted by a male (of course) Snapchat star.

The lack of imagination in finding these people is depressing - are there any researchers involved in the making of these shows? Or is RTÉ's social-media team now instructing producers to include influencers to up the traction online?

Speaking about the line-up, Operation Transformation host Kathryn Thomas said it was going to be "bigger and better" than ever.

"This is going into its 11th season now and there's very little change... at the end of the day, it always comes back to the people.

"I would've thought it would've run out of steam long ago." Maybe it has, Kathryn, maybe it has.

Era of The Mooch ended all too soon

White House briefing: Anthony Scaramucci got 10 days on the job

The rise and fall of The Mooch was far too swift for my liking.

Trump's administration has been defined by its high rate of turnover, but nothing has been as brief, brutal and brilliant as the era of Scaramucci.

He came, he saw, and he said Steve Bannon could "suck his own c***".

It was a like watching a self-contained tornado rip through the White House. In Act One, we had Sean Spicer's resignation and Scaramucci's first press conference, during which he repeatedly professed his love for Trump - before blowing the assembled press a kiss. From there the plot line gathered momentum; in the name of 'transparency', Scaramucci deleted all his previous anti-climate change denying, pro-Hillary Clinton, pro-gun control tweets that contradicted everything Trump believes in. He threatened to "fire everybody" in the White House and then retracted the comments.

In a BBC interview, he insisted Trump was not elitist by pointing out the president's love of cheeseburgers and pizza.

Following that, The Mooch called the New Yorker and accused Reince Priebus of being a "paranoid schizophrenic" while suggesting senior advisor Steve Bannon is fond of ­auto-fellatio.

His wife then files for divorce. He misses the birth of his son to attend a boy-scout jamboree with Trump. Then it was Sunday, a day of rest, so nothing much happened.

Monday - you're fired! Can you imagine how much more material he would have given us if his career had lasted a further 10 days?

My hunch is that Trump didn't fire Scaramucci because of his 'colourful language' or lack of political experience.

I think he didn't like Scaramucci stealing the limelight. The Mooch will get over it though; he may have paid $100,000 to appear for 15 seconds as himself in the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps but I reckon the rights for his time in Washington will go for a good deal more.


Durrow scarecrow festival

This year's highlights include Beyonc-Hay. Brilliant.


A phrase we should definitely bring back to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Nelly's 2002 summer hit 'Hot in Herre'.


Paul Galvin's Long Johns

Long Johns

Now on sale in Dunnes. Takes the underwear-as-outerwear trend to a whole new level.

'Fashionable fillies'

A phrase that we should definitely ditch in the wake of the Galway Races.


‘I know when I put moisturiser on, it probably does f**k all, but it makes me feel better’

Living-legend and face of skincare brand L’Oréal  Helen Mirren says what we’re all thinking. Her comments were made at an official L’Oréal-sponsored event - sadly, the reaction of brand executives was not recorded

Indo Review

Promoted Links

Entertainment Newsletter

Going out? Staying in? From great gigs to film reviews and listings, entertainment has you covered.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment