Monday 23 September 2019

Television review: A year of bad actors, Brexiting

  • Brexit (All Channels)

Nigel Farage starred in the horror show called Brexit
Nigel Farage starred in the horror show called Brexit
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

The great TV dramas of the year were not being created by brilliant writers, they were being formed in the minds of some deeply worrying individuals, and performed by bad actors - in every sense.

And at times it seemed that nobody at all was writing these terrible stories, that the bad actors were just making it all up, as they went along - which would obviously bring us straight to the Trumper, but I will be going there next week, perhaps because he does not pose as immediate a threat to our Irish civilisation as the Brexiteers.

Television created these characters - indeed Nigel Farage is a TV personality in the most literal sense, as he has failed on numerous occasions to become an MP, and he is now mainly employed by outfits such as Fox News, to "analyse" the destruction that he did so much to start.

Indeed the extent of the devotion of Farage and his ilk to the media arts was clear from the day after the referendum, when they displayed little interest in whatever was supposed to happen next, instead giving the impression that their work was done.

No, they would leave the boring bits to poor old Theresa May, who was reduced to such levels of disorientation, she was arguably at her best during the Tory Party conference when she did her famous dance to the sounds of Dancing Queen.

Only in these moments was she safe from the horrors of reality, only then was there clarity on at least one deal: that the best possible move for Theresa May was to make a total show of herself, but to display the most attractive side of her personality by not minding that she was making a show of herself.

This is where it has brought her, and this is where it has brought us, always with an eye on Newsnight to see what fresh monstrosity is about to emerge from the dungeons of the Conservative Party. A Jacob Rees-Mogg is also to a large extent a creation of television, all his affectations are devoured by programme makers, who just can't resist the essential weirdness of the man.

And if these grotesques are loved by the small screen, it has also been demonstrated with tragic effect that television journalism is largely incapable of challenging them on their gibberish, and taking them down.

It should have been quite easy to see them off, because in so many ways, they have almost no idea what they are talking about. You'd have Iain Duncan Smith holding forth with the confidence of a man who has spent his entire career studying the minutiae of Irish politics, putting out some utter garbage about the Irish Government being afraid of Sinn Fein because of a Presidential election… and nobody would be shouting stop.

On Newsnight you'd see him being interviewed, and he would reach that point in the discussion at which the interviewer should be saying: "Your project is demonstrably a disaster, as you were warned it would be, surely the only honourable course is to leave public life with immediate effect and to try to atone for what you have done by dedicating yourself to charitable works?"

Instead the interviewer says something like: "And what do you think are the implications for Theresa May?"

The BBC, on the whole, has failed abysmally on Brexit, in roughly the same way that Irish broadcasters have failed in their interactions with Sinn Fein over the years, crucially unaware that you can't "out-argue" the zealots of nationalism.

Yes the BBC has disgraced itself without any of the redemptive features of the dancing Theresa May, and Tony Connelly of RTE has emerged as a more reliable witness than any of the hacketariat to be found on British TV.

Though I'm sure that Tony would be the first to acknowledge that the No Brexit Brexit is now an even money shot - and that the person who first called it, has been conspicuous by his absence from these TV studios in which everyone has been calling it wrong, routinely.

Oh, I wonder who he can be?

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