Monday 19 August 2019

Ryan Tubridy wants to bring back Telethon - here are 9 other Irish 90s shows we want back

Dara O'Briain and Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh on Echo Island. PIC: RTE
Dara O'Briain and Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh on Echo Island. PIC: RTE
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

As Ryan Tubridy calls for the return of the People in Need Telethon, we look back to the 1990s and the other shows we'd like to see return to the small Irish screen.

The Telethon ran on RTE from 1989 to 2007 and raised a total of €35m over the course of a decade.  The shows were an annual event watched by families at home who made donations via phone as interviews and sketches were broadcast over the course of several hours.

Read more: 'We need to bring something like Children in Need back to RTE' - Ryan Tubridy 

Here are some other 90s TV shows we look back on with more than a smidgen of nostalgia...

Echo Island

Looking back, the desert island setting featuring a chattering cockatoo was probably a bit nuts although as a child it seemed rather exotic.  The kids' show replaced the hugely popular Jo Maxi in 1994 and presenters included a who's who of current RTE talent from Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh to Dara O'Briain and Derek Mooney.

Each episode featured interviews in the The Shack with guests including President Mary McAleese (who appeared in 1998) and the now disgraced Aussie children's TV presenter Rolf Harris (1999).

It was eventually replaced by Sting.  Does anyone remember Sting?  No.

Here's the flame-haired Blathnaid in action:


Technically it was an 80s show having run from 1980 to 1987 but the reruns ran throughout the 90s on The Den until 1996 when it was replaced by The Morbegs.  That opening jingle has the capacity to make most Irish adults regress to 4 years old.  Remember The Magic Door?  CGI at its 80s finest.  And then there was the singing...
Here's a singalong to reminisce over:

And the Magic Door


Sunday night fear was instilled in every single child of the 80s and 90s thanks to one programme and one programme only - Glenroe.  That opening sequence would send you into spasms of panic over homework and regret over weekends wasted watching dodgy TV.  Miley, Biddy, Dinny, Blackie Connors, Fidelma and the rest of them kept us open-mouthed and entertained as we tried to ignore the barrell of another week of school aimed squarely at our heads. 

Here's a Christmas episode from 1995:


The BBC drama ran from 1996 to 2001 and was set in Ireland and revolved, initially at least, around an English priest settling into a rural Irish community somewhere in Co Wicklow.  Most notable about Ballykissangel is the fact that Colin Farrell appeared in several episodes in the third and fourth series, mostly on horseback. 

Here's Colin as Danny around 1998-99:

The Lyrics Board

The 1990s gameshow was originally hosted by Aonghus McAnally before Linda Martin took over.  It pitted two teams against each other with each piano-playing team captain and their two celebrity teammates singing songs containign workds that were revealed one by one on a game board. The format sold to 26 countries worldwide.

Here's the late Stephen Gately singing Light my Fire:

Scratch Saturday

Running from the late 80s to teh early 90s on RTE, Scratch Saturday was frenetic and nuts and featured Pajo's Junkbox complete with a punk rock rat.  Presenters included Mary Kingston and Brian Reddin among others.  Remember Kevo the fast-talking teenage presenter?  Kevin O'Connell reportedly went on to become a producer in RTE. 

Okay, so this clip is from 1989 but we couldn't resist:

Blackboard Jungle

Blackboard Jungle was like University Challenge for Irish secondary school kids.  Aside from attempting to answer the questions at home, much time was spent mocking the uniforms and hairstyles of schools from other parts of the country.  Or maybe pondering on who you may or may not fancy.  Hosted by Ray D'Arcy it ran from 1991 right through to 1997.  

Dempsey's Den/The Den/Den TV/Den2 (1986-2010)

Much like Bosco, The Den, in all its various incarnations, was an integral part of childhood for many Irish adults.  As well as presenters Ian Dempsey and Ray D'Arcy it featured the beloved Zig and Zag, Socky, Snotster and Dustin the Turkey.  Everyone's daily routine involved coming home from school, watching The Den, eating, and then tackling homework.   

Here's an oldie.  It all kicks off around 1:30....

The Morbegs

For those too young to remember Bosco, it was all about The Morbegs, who replaced the little red-haired puppet on RTE in 1996.  The series, featuring two larger than life-size creatures called Molly and Rossa, ran for two years but the reruns ran right up to 2008.  Human actors appeared on the show too, including the lovely Carrie Crowley. 

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