Thursday 12 December 2019

Frank cook is food for thought

TELEVISION Chef Conrad Gallagher is a unique man -- not a businessman, too, writes Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

Four Live (RTE1)

The Daily Show (RTE1)

The X Factor (TV3)

ON Four Live, Maura Derrane was chatting to Conrad Gallagher, who was cooking as usual. She asked him about the opening of his new restaurant in Sligo -- the normal banter a TV host might have with a busy chef, who would almost certainly reply that the opening went magnificently well.

But not Conrad. "It was one of the hardest openings I've had," he said, cooking away. "Just a few things went wrong at the last minute. Didn't turn out exactly as I wanted it to."

It was an admirable exchange in many ways. First of all, Maura is to be admired for her willingness to work with Conrad on live television, knowing that, like many men of genius, he is the unpredictable sort.

Conrad was on the first show of the series, a formidable proposition for any new presenter, and yet it passed off peacefully.

I would now like to hear more of these frank exchanges between Maura and Conrad, because clearly a man who is prepared to talk down his opening night is a man worth hearing on a variety of topics.

I would particularly like to hear him discussing the amazing unfairness of a world which demands that a creative individual, such as himself, should also be expected to run a business while he's at it, and make a profit.

It is completely ridiculous to expect this of any artistic type, and far too little attention was paid to this self-evident truth when they were hounding Conrad for the unhappy state of his finances.

Nobody expects the boss of a haulage firm to be able to play the piano. Indeed, businessmen tend to be totally clueless about anything except their business, and we find this perfectly acceptable, understanding that all their energies are consumed by their pursuit of the one thing.

But if a man of utterly unique talents, such as Conrad, somehow finds himself short a few quid and struggling with the paperwork, he has to leave the country.

It is an outrage and the true mark of a barbarian society. Let us hear him on this, and other topics, as he cooks.

DUE to her convincing presence in this testing role, one expects Maura to be around for a long time -- maybe long enough for Four Live to get an extra hour, making it Three Live, and then subtly, almost imperceptibly, Live at Three.

Indeed, it is now one of the bedrock beliefs of Irish life that there was nothing wrong with Live at Three in the first place.

But it takes a long time to rectify an error of such historical magnitude.

RTE's due process must be observed.

The Daily Show, which follows Four Live, shows this due process in action in different ways. First, there is the title, which is directly taken from an American show to be seen on Channel Four called, well, The Daily Show. And there is the programme itself, which is very, very like the BBC's The One Show.

If it has been done before, somewhere else, RTE likes it. With the formalities observed, we can proceed.

Claire Byrne has two jobs to do and she does both of them in some style. She co-presents the show with Daithi O Se, but she must also be on red alert at all times for that rich strain of Irish eejitry which runs all the way through Daithi and which is such an intrinsic part of his appeal.

Maybe that is why we like him; maybe that is why we like Eddie Hobbs or Bill Cullen or Hector. Without it, perhaps he would lack all charm.

It is quite a tribute to Claire that she can steer the show away from the danger to which Daithi is so attracted, without causing anxiety to the viewer.

So often, watching various RTE presenters in a new role, we have found ourselves sharing their trauma; at times frightened in our own homes.

Claire doesn't do that to us, for which we are deeply grateful.

SHE'LL be around for a long time, too, which is probably more than can be said for the winner of The X Factor. Again, I am drawn into the latest controversy thrown up by the show, and again I must correctly identify the issues which the world's media has missed.

By her ludicrous rejection of Gamu Nhengu last week, Cheryl Cole has become "embroiled in a race row", as they say.

Admittedly, she chose a couple of extremely dodgy white women for the last 12, over the clearly more talented Zimbabwean, but I don't believe she did this on account of the colour of Gamu's skin, or because of Gamu's possible deportation issues.

Gamu, in the land of The X Factor, had other issues.

She is clearly educated, and they hate that. And perhaps because she has a mind of her own, she did not become totally hysterical as the two white women did, begging to have their lives saved by The X Factor.

She did not throw herself pathetically at the mercy of the judge, and they hate that too. Her sin was the sin of pride.

Sunday Independent

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