Friday 17 November 2017

Who said wrestling's no laughing matter?

Stephen Farrelly (Sheamus) and Angela Scanlon
Stephen Farrelly (Sheamus) and Angela Scanlon

John Boland

Au revoir Maia Dunphy and hello again Angela Scanlon, yet another of those determinedly chirpy women presenters of whom RTÉ has become clearly enamoured.

Angela's new series is called Angela Scanlon's Close Encounters (RTÉ2) and in this week's opener she found herself in San Jose talking to Irish-born pro-wrestling superstar Stephen Farrelly, aka Sheamus.

Actually, talking is the least of what Angela was doing. In between putting sassy questions to Stephen/Sheamus, she chuckled and cackled and guffawed non-stop, so that after 10 minutes I felt a migraine coming on.

Indeed, after 20 minutes, I decided I'd had enough. Maybe later in the 50-minute film Stephen/Sheamus revealed himself to be an authority on Schopenhauer or the recorded legacy of Doris Day or the making of lemon drizzle cakes, and maybe Angela stopped chortling and cackling for more than 40 seconds, but I'll never know.

Meanwhile Hollywood in Eirinn (TG4) continued on its engaging way with a half-hour programme about the making of Song for a Raggy Boy in Ballyvourney, Co Cork, in 2002. Director Aisling Walsh, and actors Aidan Quinn and Iain Glen, along with local extras, reminisced interestingly about the happy atmosphere surrounding this often grim movie.

Even better, though, was a Cogar film (TG4) on the 1978 BBC adaptation of Aidan Higgins's Langrishe Go Down, which was shot in the south of Ireland but never shown on RTÉ, principally because of its "lewd content" and nude scenes, which to 2015 eyes would look laughably discreet. Catherine Foley chatted to Jeremy Irons about his career-starting lead role as the callous German student who seduces the youngest Langrishe sister (played by a young Judi Dench), and she also elicited telling memories from others involved in the film's making. Harold Pinter wrote the film's screenplay and, according to Irons, "adored" Sinead Cusack. "I think that's why he put up with me," the actor said.

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