Darragh McManus: New look RTE Six One kicks off with some first-night nerves
Clearly the rest of the world doesn’t share my admiration for English comic Harry Enfield, but I must admit to being disappointed that more journalists and sub-editors didn’t pay homage to his iconic characters – petulant adolescent Kevin and slightly-less-petulant adolescent Perry – when Keelin Shanley and Caitríona Perry were appointed as co-anchors on RTÉ’s flagship Six One news show.
Keelin and Perry Go Large? Lads, it writes itself.
Tonight was their first outing, after the departure of long-term predecessors Sharon Ní Bheoláin and Brian Dobson. Personally, I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to a 6pm bulletin without Sharon and Dobbo: they were iconic, the classic line-up.
It’s like when Steven Adler and Izzy left Guns ‘n’ Roses, and they brought in Gilbey Clark and Matt Storum, and Axl hoped we wouldn’t notice. Hey, Axl, we noticed!
Anyway: that’s how it is. Keelin and Perry – sorry – made their bow tonight in a slightly reformatted Six-One. We kicked off with Caitríona standing, to introduce an undercover report by Fergal Bowers on hospital overcrowding. Next it was a double dose of Tommy Gorman from Keelin, talking about James Brokenshire’s health-related retirement and Sinn Féin’s bread-wearing space-cadet Barry McElduff.
Finally, then, both were sitting, for a series of stories: the Denis Donaldson killing, the death of Martin Clancy in Limerick, Garda whistleblowers, the Golden Globes – nice to see Saoirse Ronan win, not so nice to sit through all that nauseating grandstanding from these narcissistic, dim-witted Hollywood peacocks – more hospital beds stuff, an oil tanker disaster in the South China Sea, road safety, hospital patients in the South-East, Dublin bikes and something to do with smartphones, and of course the sports news.
So how did the new anchors do? They were pretty good, yeah.
Shanley looked to the manor born, really, from the start. Perry seemed a bit uptight, but that’s to be expected – first-night nerves and all. And Shanley would have much more experience of this sort of telly, whereas her co-presenter has been reporting in the US until now.
Perry was a success as Washington correspondent and has a good handle on news; she’ll be fine. (Besides, anyone who can survive having Donald Trump grinning across the room at you like an unhinged shark can certainly handle presenting the news at teatime.)
Not everyone on social media was a fan. @kevindublin lamented the old pair of anchors: “You'd miss Bryan and Sharon all the same.” @ainefg concurred: “Eh, where’s Sharon Ní Bheoláin gone?”
@Pixie_ declared, “Omg I miss Dobbo and Sharon on @rtenews. Can Ms Perry show some personality. @Rte you need to up your game.” And @LiamMcNamara9 wrote, “Lighten up a bit Caitriona, doesn't all have to be so serious.”
But there was some love for the twosome also. @cathyemurray1 wrote, “new year, new look #sixone. Enjoying the new dynamic ladies .” @gra5105 said, “Good for ye both @CaitrionaPerry & @KeelinShanley good to see you both on @rtenews.”
And @alisonoconn tweeted, “Watching the #SixOne News with my 10yo and it’s just fantastic to see 2 female anchors on screen & to explain to her they are 2 super journalists who more than deserve this big gig.”
Meanwhile, one @FredSharkey reckoned, “It’s like musical chairs with this pair on the #SixOne news” – which we’re not quite sure is a good or bad thing… It’s a good thing, right?