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'I only want to make positive TV' - Brendan

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RERETS: Brendan Courtney admits he got sucked into making television that exploited people. Picture: Steve Humphreys

RERETS: Brendan Courtney admits he got sucked into making television that exploited people. Picture: Steve Humphreys

RERETS: Brendan Courtney admits he got sucked into making television that exploited people. Picture: Steve Humphreys

Brendan Courtney was in the middle of filming a documentary with Boy George when it hit him.

He was living with the British singer and following his daily life when it was suggested that he spice things up. "Somebody said, 'It's a bit boring, can you hide his passport and film him freaking out?' At the time Boy George was on the edge. He was going through Narcotics Anonymous.

"He was coming clean and I just thought 'this is f**king abuse' and it was around that time RTE rang and asked if I would be interested in Off The Rails. I said 'yes!' straight away. I didn't even ask for details.

"And it was then I said 'I only want to put positive television out into the world'. I never wanted to make television that exploited people ever again and I had gotten sucked in to that."

The presenter fronted seven seasons of RTE's iconic fashion show and become one of Ireland's most successful presenters.

Now with his trademark enthusiasm and wit, he returns with a new documentary, Keys to My Life. It will offer an insight into the lives of some of Ireland's best known faces. From Anne Doyle's intelligence that had her jumping years ahead of her classmates to Rory Cowan's previous life hanging with Cher and the Pet Shop Boys, as one of the biggest marketing bosses in Britain's music industry.

"Every time, I would be standing in a kitchen or hallway or garden that they had once lived in and something about their personality rose to the top that surprised me and will surprise the viewer."

On the thread linking their stories, Brendan says: "Tenacity, tenacity, tenacity. That is the common trait in all of them. The comeback kid. In the face of adversity they get up again, dust themselves off and go at it again. They are like boxers, all of them, they just take the punches, roll with it and go again."

He adds: "I also felt they all had very supportive mothers. Mothers who told them they could be anything they wanted to be and encouraged them to go and do what they wanted to do."

One of the most intriguing stories, he says, is footballer Frank Stapleton.

"His parents were from the tenements with no lighting or heating. They got a council house and Frank saw football as an opportunity to better himself and he went with it. He was the first million pound signing to Manchester United and he came from nothing."

RTE 'Keys To My Life' starts next Sunday at 8.30pm on RTE One.

Sunday Independent