Tuesday 20 February 2018

Love him or hate him, Dunphy delivers every time

Eamon Dunphy's always been a bit of a 'love him or hate him' broadcaster. For some he's nothing but a contrarian, a professional controversialist, a rent-a-gob. For others, like me, he's intelligent, funny, authentic even when he's not being authentic, and great entertainment, on TV and radio.

I don't care if he changes his opinion on some footballer or goes extravagantly over the top in attack-ing someone. He's a polemicist and there is a place for that, just as there's a place for dry reportage.

Take last weekend's Dunphy Show on Newstalk as an example. Eamon and his guests -- economics gurus Sean Barrett and Constantin Gurdgiev, journalists Justine McCarthy and Simon Carswell -- went through their Top 10-style lists of people to blame for our current predicament.

The usual suspects all featured prominently, but the details didn't matter as much as the tone. The whole conversation, guided and prompted by the host, was lively, acidic, bitchy and mischievous; therefore, as we said before, great entertainment.

Dunphy provokes a response, gets you thinking, makes you mad or makes you laugh. He's colourful and unpredictable and sometimes outrageous. He's also one of a kind.

Recently, for instance, he described a particular writer as a "vile creature". You couldn't imagine Cathal MacCoille or Matt Cooper coming out with that, which is fine: they're satisfying a different requirement. Dunphy ploughs his own furrow, and Irish radio is all the better for it.

(And by the way, Constantin rocks. The guy should be made Minister for Everything and just left to sort it all out.)

In a much different tone, but equally as important, was Dan O'Brien's documentary for BBC Radio 4 about the crash. It was discussed at length in the days following its broadcast, but here we shall concentrate on the source.

In one way this didn't tell us much we didn't already know, but what it did was draw all the strands together: smoothly, assuredly and, sometimes, dramatically. The story of the bust -- money and power and hubris and men in suits and boardrooms and wheeler-dealing -- almost sounds like something from a mini-series or a Jeffrey Archer potboiler.

Though Archer would surely have had the decency to write a better ending.


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