Sunday 22 April 2018

Lifestyle rubbish and lame-brained comedy jostle for position with four-part tale of man who rescued seahorses

John Boland

RTE's managing director of television Noel Curran promises "a diverse schedule full of quality Irish programmes".

The station's new director of programming Steve Carson assures us that "at the heart of everything we do is the desire to create programmes that innovate and entertain, inform and initiate".

So, no more lifestyle rubbish or lame-brained attempts at comedy from the national broadcaster then?

If only. In fact, there are 11 new lifestyle shows and seven more assaults on our funny bones, being lined up this season.

An RTE press release warns us that some of Ireland's "top comedians" are to be "let loose on RTE2".

That means Jason Byrne and Dave McSavage by the way. Ah well, each to their own.

Drama, meanwhile, will not just provide "diversion, intrigue, grit and glamour" but will also be "culturally resonant" -- a boast somewhat undermined by the forlorn listing of a mere four dramas, two of them being 'Fair City' (now in its 20th year) and 'The Clinic' (seven seasons old) and a third "reuniting" the characters from 'Pure Mule', who, apparently, are "much loved."

Not in my house, they aren't.

Then there's a new religious series called 'Does God Hate..?', a studio discussion chaired by the "incomparable" Marian Fiucane and teasing out whether God hates women, sex, science and whatever you're having yourself. Riveting stuff, I'm sure.

And if it's even more stimulus you want, there'll be "hearty topical debate" in Ryan Tubridy's 'Late Late Show' and "lively debate" in Pat Kenny's 'The Frontline'.

This current affairs show takes over from the axed 'Questions and Answers' and admirers of Kenny's broadcasting acumen will welcome the fact that he's back doing something serious on television, even if the format -- a studio discussion on the main stories of the week between invited guests and an audience -- makes it seem very like the show it's replacing.

Overall, the programmes that seem most likely to capture the imagination are of a factual nature, including David McWilliams's 'Addicted to Money', which will look at Ireland's situation in the global economic slump; Diarmaid Ferriter's 'The Limits of Liberty', a series examining life in Ireland after independence (even if Sean O Mordha's 'Seven Ages' fairly exhaustively covered the same period); 'Killers', about such high-profile charmers as the Scissor Sisters and Joe O'Reilly; 'The Sheriff and Me', about people faced with serious debt; and a look back at 'The Way We Worked', for those who remain familiar with the vanishing concept of employment.

Mind you, there's also 'The Seahorseman', which requires a four-part series to recount an Irish man's attempt to save an ancient seahorse.

No, I haven't the foggiest. And finally there's Charlie Bird's 'American Year', which might enlighten those of us who are constantly puzzled at what exactly RTE's intrepid ace reporter is up to these days.

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