Thursday 18 July 2019

Television: There's no doubting Katie's drive, but who is she really?


Katie Taylor has admitted she questioned whether she would be accepted in the pro ranks
Katie Taylor has admitted she questioned whether she would be accepted in the pro ranks

John Boland

'I don't think many people really know Katie Taylor", promoter Eddie Hearn said at the outset of Katie (RTÉ1), and certainly by the end of Ross Whitaker's absorbing 90-minute profile, the Bray boxer remained an enigmatic figure.

There was no doubting how driven she's always been, one of her brothers recalling her competitive streak as bordering on the unhealthy, but always in her corner was her father Pete, both as mentor and trainer - indeed the two of them, in his own words, "like best friends".

That ended after her gold medal triumph at the 2012 Olympic Games when, in his daughter's telling, he "decided to step away from the family" into a new relationship and became "someone I could no longer work with".

She left it at that but clearly it had a shattering effect on her and she knew that removing herself from his influence "would cost me a lot". But such was her desire to make her name in professional boxing that she took herself off to rural Connecticut, where she was trained by professional coach Ross Enamait and where she now lives. (And towards the end, revealing that she has since met up with her father, she acknowledged that "everything I know as a boxer came from my dad").

The film was absorbing about the hard realities of the professional women's game, which is much more punishing, indeed a lot more brutal, than its amateur counterpart and still struggles to make an impact in a male-dominated sporting culture. But she was buoyed by her unswerving ambition, unabashedly declaring that she'd "love to get to the point where I'm a household name worldwide". Yet though always obliging to the filmmaker, she disclosed little about herself, and we learned nothing, either, about the personable Ross Enamait or about her manager Brian Peters, both of whom seem central to her current ambitions.

Indeed, as the final credits rolled, it was hard not to feel that we still don't know what makes our greatest sportswoman tick. That, though, seems to be the way she wants it, and good luck to her.

In One Day: How Ireland Cleans Up (RTÉ1), we encountered Cork city binman Jonathan, whose early-morning shift sees him lifting people's rubbish. Then we went to a rural music festival in Waterford, where Sinead was overseeing a team of eastern European workers as they picked up all the litter from the night before.

After that we were in George's Quay Plaza in Dublin, where two guys were scrubbing the outside windows of an office block, and then we were in an Adare hotel in Co Limerick, where Fiona and her team were cleaning up function rooms and bedrooms in between weddings.

Our next stop (are you still with me?) was back to Dublin and the Ringsend waste energy incinerator; then we were off to Tallaght, where volunteers were pulling discarded prams out of a stream; and then we moved on to Sally Gap in Co Wicklow, where council workers fretted about illegal dumping.

By this juncture we hadn't even got to the first ad break, but I decided I'd seen enough rubbish to last me a lifetime.

In the second episode of Resistance (RTÉ1), the IRA got Ursula's toddler back from the nasty nuns but then refused to hand him over to his mother until she furnished them with names of dastardly Brits to be assassinated. So she went and played poker with her Dublin Castle bosses so that they wouldn't suspect her, and quite a wizard at cards she turned out to be, too.

Elsewhere, plucky Sinn Féin journalist Eithne got arrested and strip-searched, while her editor got beaten to death by villainous auxiliaries. Meanwhile, sneery banker Harry was becoming nervous that an Inland Revenue audit would discover the loan he'd been forced to give to the Irish cause.

It was all happening in Resistance, or rather too much was happening as the makers tried to juggle an awful lot of plot strands and an awful lot of clichéd characters. Time will tell how it all works out.

There's a lot of sex in Sex Education (Netflix), which is located at a school somewhere in the English countryside and where everyone is at it. There's the headmaster's son Adam, who's so self-conscious about his enormous appendage that he can't climax. There's Otis, who's still a virgin but thinks about sex all the time, partly because his mother Jean is a sex therapist who sleeps with different guys every night. And there's Otis's pal, Eric, who's gay and who revels in his sexuality.

This is a comedy, or at least I think it's a comedy, though there aren't many laughs and its tone is all over the place. Maybe it will find its proper rhythm as it progresses, but the first episode was cheerfully rude and some of the playing was good, especially Asa Butterfield as Otis and Gillian Anderson as his mother. Binge-watch it and decide for yourself.

Catastrophe (Channel 4) was low on laughs this week, but I enjoyed Sharon's description of being married to the newly reformed Rob: "It's like he's on a crusade, but to somewhere boring, and we all have to come."

Meanwhile, for anyone who unaccountably missed Wolf Hall when the BBC premiered it in 2015, or has simply forgotten how good it was, RTÉ1 has finally got round to showing it on Tuesday nights. Watch it for its engrossing storyline or simply as a masterclass from Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell. Theresa May could do with such an expert fixer.

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