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History boys hold no sway over Amanda

RTE's coverage of Queen Elizabeth's arrival in Ireland may have had the gravitas and smooth professionalism that decades of broadcasting experience can bring to such historic occasions, but it didn't have Amanda Brunker.

Amanda was among the special 'Midday' panel that TV3 had assembled for this unique event, and the socialite and author had her own unique take on what was happening, beginning with the grey skies over Aras an Uachtarain.

"How Irish does that weather look!" she mused, before revealing that "when the sun shines, Ireland is spectacular".

She had searing insights, too, into the basic appeal of the royal family. Fellow panellist Tommy Graham had been chipping in with historical background and context, but Amanda, impatient at being "interrupted by history lessons", cut through the academic claptrap with her declaration that the British royals were just "celebs from the 'Hello' and 'OK' kind of genre, and all we want to know is what are they doing and where are they going".

Not that she was unmindful of the political sensitivities surrounding the visit, including the threat posed by dissident republicans.

"I hope this whole trip goes off without a bang," she told presenter Colette Fitzpatrick, adding rather unnecessarily "and I mean that literally".

Over on RTE1, Bryan Dobson was in the grounds of Aras an Uachtarain chatting to columnist and author Mary Kenny. Dressed in a delirious melange of green, red and pink and with a flower-bedecked angler's hat perched on her head, Mary had clearly come from auditioning for a minor role in the latest 'Miss Marple' series, but her observations -- while not on the level of Amanda's -- were worth hearing.

That was just as well, as there was a good deal of time to be filled while everyone waited for the royal Land Rover to arrive -- Bryan helping to pad out the minutes by adding 17 subordinate clauses to every question he asked, whether of Mary, of London correspondent Brian O'Connell or of UCD's Diarmuid Ferriter, who was incisive on the visit's historical context.

Indeed, history lessons loomed large throughout RTE's coverage of the day, which wouldn't have pleased Amanda, who, sensible women that she is, has no time for such irrelevant nonsense.

Irish Independent