Friday 15 December 2017

RTE's Christmas offering is more threat than treat

Mrs Brown
Gay Byrne and Imelda May
David McSavage

John Boland

INSTEAD of seeking to make amends for recent transgressions, RTE's Christmas programming seems more like a threat than a seasonal bid for forgiveness.

How else to account for the fact that the two festive shows given pride of place in Montrose's press release are a Christmas special featuring 'Mrs Brown's Boys' and a new series involving Pat Shortt's bungling detective 'Mattie'?

The latter, we're promised, will contain "all manner of misadventures", while the former will be "louder and naughtier than ever before".

Yes, but will either of them be any funnier than before? Sensitive viewers should also be alerted to the fact that rowdy comedian Kathleen Lynch is assembling a 'Wagon's Den' special and that the misanthropic Dave McSavage will be reuniting his gallery of grotesques to answer "Why Do the Irish Love Christmas?" in the 'Savage Eye'.

I'm loving it less and less already and the launch of a series featuring Jedward isn't improving my mood. Entitled 'OMG! Jedward's Dream Factory', this will cast the surreal duo as latter-day Jimmy Saviles as they aim to make the wishes of children come true, whether that involves taking ballerina lessons or training with the Irish football team. But while the kids are gazing in wonder at that, what's for adults? Well, there's always a special edition of 'For One Night Only', in which host Gay Byrne will be joined by The Dubliners, who are about to celebrate their 50th anniversary and who will be joined in studio by such diverse admirers as Sharon Shannon, and Shane MacGowan.

Also celebrating a half-century, though on this earth rather than on the road, is Donegal crooner Daniel O'Donnell and he'll be profiled in the documentary 'Daniel at 50', with tributes from friends and an "intimate interview" with himself and the missus at their Tenerife pad. This might simply be an exercise in puffery aimed at the converted or it might be worth a look.

'Frank O'Farrell: The Shadow of Busby' will tell the story of the only Irishman ever to guide Manchester United's fortunes, while a couple of other sports documentaries sound intriguing, too, though in general the schedules are filled with the usual twaddle -- or, in the words preferred by RTE Television's MD Glen Killane, "seasonal favourites to suit all ages and tastes".

Most people don't expect much in the way of innovative or even interesting programmes over the Christmas period, but should RTE be so intent on proving them right?

Irish Independent

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