Wednesday 22 November 2017

Charming Síle was perfect company for Saturday shenanigans

Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

I was surprised, I have to confess, that Newstalk has axed Síle Seoige's Saturday morning magazine show Shenanigans. It was never the greatest thing in the history of radio – but it wasn't half bad, either.

More than that, it was really well suited to its time slot. Saturday, around noon, you want levity, fun, a relaxed ambience. You want to feel, essentially, like you're hanging out with someone likeable and engaging. And Síle Seoige was/is that.

It's a funny thing, actually, being a likeable personality on the radio – you sort of either have it or you don't, as simple as that. It's not a quality you can pretend to have, or force yourself to have, or imitate. The listener always knows if it's authentic.

You don't necessarily need it – indeed, for a political correspondent, say, it's probably better to be a little bit dislikeable – but it's pretty much a prerequisite for a show like Shenanigans. And Seoige had it: she's warm, charming and easy going.

Though even that, along with decent ratings, wasn't enough to save her or the programme. And with all due respect to the experts, I still feel the decision is a strange one.

She's being replaced in the time slot by Bobby Kerr and Sarah Carey. He's alright but kind of dreary; she's a bit shrill in a 'cleverest girl in school' type way.

They're both fine as broadcasters, but neither has Seoige's affability, and neither is as well fitted for the slot. Also, they're bringing, respectively, business and political debate: what's needed is a general-interest features show.

And those are something Newstalk is good at: Moncrieff during weekday afternoons, Davenport After Dark weekday nights. They find interesting things to discuss and let us know about, or they give an interesting, sideways perspective on something.

For instance, the latter has a section with Steven Benedict, a writer and filmmaker, which explores a different aspect of cinema. His approach is original and imaginative, and his delivery is intelligent without being overly intellectual.

Recently he framed classic horror The Exorcist as an expression of twisted, even violent misogyny. I'd never thought of it like that, but Benedict's thesis stacked up.

Informative, enjoyable and thought-provoking: all you can ask of a piece on the radio.

Irish Independent

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