Wednesday 21 February 2018

Television review: A D'Arcy Show that never was

* The Ray D'Arcy Show (RTE1)

Illustration: Jim Cogan
Illustration: Jim Cogan
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

After he had made a brief appearance in the audience of the Ray D'Arcy Show, I found out through a mention on Twitter that Ed Randolph, the father of Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph, had been one of those professional basketball players who came to Ireland from the United States back in the 1980s.

"How interesting", I thought to myself. "How very interesting."

And then, just as I was moving on to other matters, I paused and I pondered this thing further : "Since this is so interesting - so very interesting - why the hell am I finding out about this from some mention on Twitter, and not from Ray D'Arcy, who had the man sitting there in front of him?"

The more I pondered this, the more it seemed to say so much, about so many things.

Ed Randolph had been sitting there with his Irish partner Anne, and Shane Long's mother, also called Anne. They had been brought in to reflect briefly on the defeat of Germany, which they duly did. And that was it.

But given what we know now, about Ed Randolph, we can see that there were many other possibilities inherent in this encounter - the most obvious of which was for Ray to say something like, "Ed, you were one of those professional basketball players who came to Ireland from the United States back in the 1980s".

We are assuming here - as we must - that someone at some level of the Ray D'Arcy show would have known about Ed's interesting career, or would have found out about it at some point during the process of arranging the item. At which point surely all those possibilities would have become clear.

Because when Ed Randolph and the other basketball players came to Ireland, there were so few black people living here, each one became a virtual sociological phenomenon in his own right. It was all so interesting indeed, that a much-admired book was written about that period by Kieran Shannon, called Hanging From the Rafters.

And to think that one of these guys had settled down here with an Irish girl and their son went on to play football for Ireland - I mean, could anything be more interesting than that?

Maybe indeed the Ray D'Arcy Show team formed the view that it was just too interesting. That to do it justice at all, you'd need a whole show, so all things considered it might be better not to mention it at all, but to have this brief item instead which told us essentially that Darren Randolph has a mother and a father and that they are happy for him. Which is nice, but probably not as interesting as it might have been.

Or was Ray perhaps being laudably sensitive to any issues of racial stereotyping which might arise here, however remote? Was he rising above some dumb cliche that all African-American men are associated in some way with basketball? One would have to think not, because Ed Randolph was not a cliche, he did actually play basketball. And he played it very well.

There are no overtones or undertones to it, it is just a fact. And an interesting one at that. And it would have been even more interesting to have Ed Randolph reflecting on the things that he has seen over the years in that general area of racial integration, on the changes, or even on the things that have remained the same. God, that would have been interesting.

But it didn't happen, and there the matter lay, because there was another item to be done, a full-length item, about obesity.

This was not for me, as they say. But at least there was no comedown after the highs of the previous item. They just hadn't told us enough about this extraordinarily interesting man Ed Randolph, for us to form the view that we had missed something. Effectively, they'd told us nothing about him.

But l'm sure they have their reasons. They are supposed to be extremely clever people. They never stop thinking about what they're trying to do there on a Saturday night, how it's all going to look, what is right and what is not right, for Ray.

They're thinking, all right, they never stop thinking. I just wonder if they are thinking about the right things.

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