Sunday 17 December 2017

Let's just give all the IFTAs to the superb An Klondike - Pat Stacey

Pat Stacey

Time, it’s said, is a great healer. Really? Try telling that to the poor viewers who sat through the live broadcast of the 2014 IFTAs. You remember it, don’t you? The flat jokes. The presenters’ and winners’ words being drowned out by the clinking of glasses, the clanking of plates and the swelling chatter of a roomful of tanked-up people who’d lost interest.

Laura Whitmore later said that if it hadn’t been for her indomitable co-host, Simon Delaney, she might have walked away from the whole thing there and then.

Last year’s awards didn’t go out on live television. It’s back this year, though, on TV3 on April 9.

I imagine the station will go to great lengths to ensure it all goes off without a hitch.

But even if the production proves to be the slickest thing since Elvis Presley’s hair circa 1956, I can’t get over the feeling that the awards are becoming more pointless with every annual retelling.

The contenders for this year’s television drama awards (the awards for anything that isn’t drama are being held over ‘til October) were announced yesterday.

I’ll give them credit where it’s due, one thing they have got right this year is the fact that leading the field – with a hefty nine nominations – is TG4’s Yukon gold rush adventure An Klondike.

Next comes Rebellion with eight, Vikings (five), Penny Dreadful (three) and Game of Thrones (two).

I wish the decision were left to me and me alone.

I’d save four of those five a lot of taxi fares, tuxedo rental fees and dress designer bills by bundling all 28 award statuettes into a sturdy parcel and giving it to An Klondike.

Quite simply, it deserves all of them.

Why? Well, for a start, it was excellently written, produced, directed, shot and acted – and all on a severely restricted budget.

Shoestring doesn’t even begin to describe the meagre money spent on turning Galway into the Yukon (although it was done very convincingly).

It certainly didn’t have the most viewers, either.

There’ll most likely be more people sitting inside the Mansion House, the venue for this year’s IFTAs, than watched An Klondike when it was broadcast (although the exposure on the night will hopefully encourage some people to check it out).

What it had in abundance was ambition, originality and Irishness. One-hundred percent Irishness.

In the age of the tax break, the question of which country can claim ownership of a TV series is a vexed one.

Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful and Vikings are all to a greater or lesser degree filmed on the island of Ireland, and use Irish acting and technical talent.

But does that make them Irish? Not in my book.

You might as well say that Poldark, made by the BBC, is Irish because it has an Irish star, Aidan Turner.

IFTA Film and Drama Awards 2016 nominations: TG4 series An Klondike leads with 9 

Needless to say, the IFTA book reads differently. Turner shows up in the best TV actor category in this year’s nominations.

So does Stephen Rae for his performance in another BBC production, Dickensian. He also gets a supporting actor nod for War and Peace.

Let’s not forget that Rebellion was also 100pc Irish.

The difference between An Klondike and Rebellion, however, is that the first was really good while the second was complete crap.

The fact that there’s one nomination separating the two, sums up the IFTAs for me.

TG4 is one of the best things to happen to Irish television - in any language

There's gold in this drama, but not in Lady C


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