Entertainment Television

Saturday 19 January 2019

Television review: Britain now leads us in eejitry

  • Channel 4 News

Mood music: Senator David Norris hit the right notes in a 'Channel 4 News'. Photo: Tom Burke
Mood music: Senator David Norris hit the right notes in a 'Channel 4 News'. Photo: Tom Burke
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

When Matt Frei stood outside Leinster House presenting Channel 4 News from a strife-torn Dublin, many of us found ourselves in an unfamiliar place. Time was, we just hoped we'd get through these ordeals without letting ourselves down.

But we do not hope for this as fervently or as desperately as we used to, perhaps because at this particular time, if we sent out an all-star selection of our greatest living total eejits, they could not look much more disturbing than the people who are usually being interviewed by Matt Frei - indeed one of these characters, Iain Duncan Smith, was about to prove this beyond all doubt.

But it was still a tough watch for Paddy, it will always be tough to a certain extent, if only due to some ancient race memory that makes us a bit twitchy when serious people like Channel 4 News come to town - serious enough to go to the trouble of pronouncing Taoiseach the right way, as Frei did, serious enough to put in the many hours it takes to learn that it's pronounced tee-shuck. Yes, that serious, that good.

So there would be anxious moments, such as the introduction to an interview with Senator David Norris, "one of Ireland's most outspoken politicians when he's not on the Chopin" - yes, the Norrisser was sitting at the grand piano in his beautiful home, knocking out a nocturne or some such musical delicacy, while Frei sat there waiting for him to finish, listening appreciatively.

And there was a sense that this could go either way when the senator said, "we have you by the goolies", but it was clear that his intentions were sound, that he was maintaining that the Irish would, in fact, not relish being in that position.

He was winning too, when he said that "the relationship between Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom is a very complex one". While those who advocate the "physical force tradition" might be cribbing about "the rest of the United Kingdom" bit, most of us have busy lives in which we hear the spirit of what a man says, in which we have no time for republican pedantry.

So we salute you, David Norris, and we salute Marina Donohoe, the UK and Northern Europe Director of Enterprise Ireland, standing in the cold outside Leinster House alongside Senator Gerard Craughwell, speaking in exactly the sort of accomplished tones you would expect from a UK and Northern Europe Director of Enterprise Ireland. Whatever that is.

Unfortunately we were not in the room when Senator Craughwell was speaking, so we are not in a position to adjudicate. But hopefully he acquitted himself well.

And then it was off to the Palace of Westminster where Duncan Smith, the arch-Brexiteer, was about to demonstrate that in terms of total eejitry, the balance of power has now shifted decisively from Dublin to London.

When Sarah Newman in the studio brought up the difficult issue of Ireland, Duncan Smith, in the reassuring tones of a man who knows exactly how the world works, informed her that "there's an election about to go on in Ireland, the Presidential election".

When Newman clarified that the General Election is "not going to happen any more", the former Tory leader corrected her: "Well no, the Presidential election is coming up."

Indeed… It was important the caption on the screen noted that Duncan Smith had been "Conservative Party Leader 2001-03", to understand that 14 years ago this man was considered just too strange even to lead the Tories. Now he has finally found the motherlode.

Coincidentally there was another item on Channel 4 News in which Steven Armstrong, the boss of Ford in Europe, explained that Brexit would cause such utter madness in the British car industry it could cost his company about a billion dollars a year.

Well done, Iain Duncan Smith. Well done everyone.

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