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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Anne Doyle's 'Boxcar Willie' reality TV dream

Almost have pass, will travel: Anne Doyle plans a rail holiday around Ireland. Photo: Mark Condren
Almost have pass, will travel: Anne Doyle plans a rail holiday around Ireland. Photo: Mark Condren
Boxcar Willy
Former Bond: Roger Moore
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

With her trademark string of pearls and sleek blonde bob, Anne Doyle may not seem to have much in common with overall wearing blues singer Boxcar Willie.

But the retired Doyenne of the RTÉ newsroom plans on channelling the 'I Love the Sound of a Whistle' singer when she turns 66 next year.

To celebrate hitting official retirement age, Anne will jump aboard Iarnród Éireann train carriages and travel the length and breadth of the country - presumably while belting out Willie's best-known hits 'Hank and the Hobo', 'Booze, Broads, and Bad Times', and who can forget that old classic 'Sixteen Chickens and a Tambourine'.

"If I live to see next January, I will have the free travel and I will ride the rails - just call me Boxcar Willie!" she said.

"I am going to go all over Ireland, a tour of the country. And I won't have to pay.

"I went to Cork last week and my companion had free travel but it was €79 for yours truly! That won't be the case next year, thank you very much."

Now Anne is appealing to TV producers to help turn her pipe dream into a reality TV show.

"If anyone is interested let me know!"

Form an orderly queue.

To me, this sounds like TV gold - I'd much rather see Anne on holiday than Daniel O'Donnell nosing around B&Bs, Francis Brennan on a never-ending tour of Injah, or Dara Ó Briain and Ed Byrne larking about for the BBC. This is mainly because unlike any of the aforementioned, Anne has made it on to my 'Celebrities who would be Great Craic on a Cruise' list.

This is a much, much more debauched version of ideal dinner party guests.

I've never really liked those lists because they are usually a thinly veiled attempt for people to showcase how erudite and cultured they are.

People at fictional dinner party lists tend to be 'literary luminaries' and do-gooders. Mother Teresa, Emily Dickinson, and the Dalai Lama are all extremely popular.

While they have all done great and good things, doesn't that line-up sound like a snooze? Lord knows poets aren't much of a laugh.

The 'Great Craic on a Cruise' list is much more preferable. And, more importantly, much more fun.

The people on this list have to consist of a certain breed of celebrity who are brash and ballsy and who would ensure the holiday would be one you'd never forget - for good and bad reasons.

To make it on to this fictitious cruise you need to show an appreciation of the following; lounging, afternoon naps, gin, ABBA-themed disco nights, gossip, shuffleboard, and salted almonds.

You must not display any of the following; reliable short-term memory - especially if it relates to the night before, restraint, a habit of turning in early, jeans (nobody's friend on the high sea), craft beer, or modesty.

Aside from Anne Doyle, other celebrities who have made it on to the cruise check list include Nathan Lane, Jilly Cooper, Miriam Margolyes, Boy George, Diane Keaton, and last but not least Twink (but I'm afraid not Teddy).

Can you imagine the stories you'd come back with? It would be the stuff of legend.

Moore more than a posh accent... and wiggly eyebrows

Former Bond: Roger Moore

I met James Bond eight years ago, on a stifling hot summer's day.

I was working as a coffee runner on Gerry Ryan's show Ryan Confidential and that afternoon he was chatting to Roger Moore. We were shooting in a suite in the Burlington and everyone else was terribly excited about Moore's arrival.

"He's on his way," the production manager whispered giddily as she waited by the hotel door. But I wasn't that pushed. I didn't get the fuss about James Bond films; they were so camp and cringe-y.

I had seen clips of Moore in action, and couldn't get past the double entendre puns and camp posturing. Plus, wasn't the general consensus that Sean Connery was the best Bond?

There was a knock on the door and Moore strolled in. He sat down, took a sip of water and started chatting about the advantages of having a plummy voice (he came from a working-class background but his mother insisted he take elocution lessons), and his time in the British army.

He also recalled how he was "spotted" as potential talent by the Irish director Brian Desmond Hurst who liked to call himself the "Empress of Ireland" and drank a bottle of champagne for breakfast.

Moore was self deprecating, sophisticated and suave.

He also had great eyebrows. They may have lacked the fullness of Connery's but he made up for that in dexterity - and would wiggle them about for a laugh. You couldn't help but like him, he seemed to move in the rhythm of a different era. Time slowed down and he spoke with a considered caution.

After the interview, Gerry and Rodge went for a snifter while we cleared up cables and wires.

I revisited his Bond movies some time later and felt guilty for writing him off.

True, he may not have had the sense of danger that Connery possessed but he had a kindness, sense of humour and compassion that seemed impossible to mask - even when playing a man with a licence to kill.


Cher's see-through ensemble


Once a showgirl, always a showgirl.

Champagne six-packs

Snipe-sized perfection. Ideal for picnics with notions.


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