Pat Stacey: RTE 1's autumn schedule has more to offer than Tubridy Vs D'Arcy showdown
Ryan Tubridy can feel his juices flowing. We know this because he told the RTE Ten website at the launch of RTE1’s autumn season last week. “I can feel the juices flowing and the sense that it’s all kicking off,” he said. “As I walk the corridors, I can feel it.”
By way of clarification, and just in case your imagination might be running away with you, he was talking about his excitement at the imminent 56th season of The Late Late Show.
Ray D’Arcy’s juices, meanwhile, appear to be positively boiling. When asked by The Irish Times on Friday how his Saturday night chat show, due at the end of September, will differ from the show it’s replacing, he said: “It will be presented by me. I’m different to Brendan O’Connor. He’s taller and has more hair. We have different sensibilities and a different approach to doing things.”
Okay . . . and? “It will be like everything you have seen before, except you have never seen me in a chat show.”
I’d like to say my own juices were similarly excited by this news; sadly, the bodily fluids remain resolutely unstirred. But never mind.
Exit for a moment the parallel universe RTE chat show hosts inhabit and you’ll find there’s more to the primary channel’s autumn line-up than two middle-aged men fighting over who gets the pick of the celebrity plankton floating around at the weekends. Some of it looks like it might be pretty good, too.
Ironically, while the quantity of drama production is actually down on what it was last year (no Love/Hate or The Fall to rely on this time), the two major series that are on the slate are highly promising.
The Sunday night slot previously occupied by Nidge and his buds will be filled by Clean Break, a four-part crime drama written by Billy Roche and set in his native Wexford.
It’s about an under-pressure businessman who tries to stave off financial ruin by organising a tiger kidnapping. With Roche holding the pen and Gillies MacKinnon and Damien O’Donnell sharing directorial duties on two episodes apiece, the pedigree is excellent.
Even more ambitious, at least on paper, is Rebellion, a five-part historical drama that hits the screen in January. Set over a three-week period, it focuses on the 1916 Rising and its aftermath.
There’s a quality cast here, including Charlie Murphy, Brian Gleeson and the always excellent Ruth Bradley. It’s worth sounding a small note of caution, however: Rebellion comes from the same team that made the risible mess that was Charlie.
The Easter Rising is also the subject of The Enemy Files, a “counterview” of the events of 1916 by Michael Portillo. This is just one in an especially strong batch of documentaries that includes Garda Down Under, a look at gardai on the beat in Western Australia, and The Boston Nanny, the story of Irish nanny Aisling Brady McCarthy. There are also fly-on-the-wall series about the defence forces (Recruits) and the heroic staff of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital (Crumlin).
The good news is that arts programming gets an overdue boost. Highlights here include Bob Geldof sharing his thoughts on WB Yeats and Brent Pope putting the oval ball to one side and getting to grips with outsider art. Intriguing stuff, by the sound of it.
There’s a welcome return too for the stalwart John Kelly, who’ll be hosting one-on-one interviews in The Works Presents...
We’ll still have to suffer hours of Rachel Allen, Donal Skehan, Operation Transformation and other assorted lifestyle guff, of course, but there’s plenty here for viewers who’ve been on a summer starvation diet to get their chops around.