RTE gears up for TV marathon to ring in New Year
IT is described as compelling, life-enhancing and a lasting legacy. Twenty-four hours of non-stop broadcasting, the largest, single television show in Irish history.
If RTE's PR machine is to believed, there is only one place to be this millennium in front of the TV where the station's biggest ever venture takes to the small screen.
Starting at 9am on New Year's Eve, Millennium Eve Celebrate 2000 will feature live broadcasts from around the world beginning with the first sunset in the small pacific island of Tonga and ending with the last sunset in Ireland at Dursey Head, Co Cork.
Throughout the day, RTE will have a different millennium countdown from somewhere around the world ``every hour, on the hour''.
Sixty world-wide broadcasters, 500 RTE workers, three studios, four outside satellite units, 40 cameras in 20 Irish locations will work to pull together an array of images from around both the country and globe.
Every province and every type of celebration will be featured from concerts, carnivals and street parties to the lighting of candles at the last sunset of the millennium. And an array of the country's best-known musicians, writers, actors, commentators and sport stars will take part.
Major events such as the Eurovision, the Telethon, visits by the Pope and John F Kennedy will ``pale into significance when placed alongside this''.
Even the video promo at yesterday's launch made Primetime's Miriam O'Callaghan hair ``stand on end''.
``This is a great time to be alive at the end of this millennium, especially with the events yesterday (in the North). It is great to be in broadcasting,'' gushed Joe Mulholland, the station's managing director of television.
``Every organisation has its difficulties. We still have 43-45pc of the audience and against all competition. No matter what the begrudgers say, we continue to provide a good service. We get some things right and this is one of the things that we will get right,'' he said.
It has to be said the launch in Dublin's Clarence hotel was well timed. What better way to distract attention from the previous day's gloomy announcement of job losses and cutbacks than a glitzy millennium reception in one of Dublin's top hotels.
``We are pleased with this. This is good news after the bad news of yesterday. We intend to be around for a long time and intend to continue providing premier broadcasting on this island,'' Mr Mulholland said.
Singers Brian Kennedy, Paul Harrington and Eimear Quinn toasted the broadcasting coup with an endless supply of champagne. They were joined by RTE's impressive millennium team - Pat Kenny, Miriam O'Callaghan, Mark Little, Geri Maye, Bryan Dobson and Rachel English.
Stay tuned for inspiration
EVENTS from all over the world and all over the country will keep viewers entertained, amused and inspired throughout the night such as:
* 2000 Today the most ambitious co-production in broadcasting history will see 60 broadcasters exchanging live pictures of the celebrations and countdowns in their own countries.
* Celtic Link the performance will be broadcast live from Dublin as part of Ireland's contribution to 2000 Today.
* Musicians Performers on screen throughout the day include The Corrs, Westlife, Ronan Keating, Frances Black, Jimmy McCarthy and Colm Wilkinson.
* Dublin Concert the National Millennium Committee concert from Merrion Square will be broadcast live around the world. Performing are Paul Brady, David Gray and the Divine Comedy.
* Children Irish children will read their own work from a book published this month called I Have a Dream Irish Children Writing for RTE Millennium Eve.
* Celebrate 2000 music and song with some of Ireland's best know choirs and soloists.
* Reconciliation 2000 RTE and BBC Northern Ireland will co-operate on several events during the broadcast.
* Sunset Irish citizens will be invited to watch the last sunset and light their millennium candles. The last light of the year fades at Dursey Head, the tip of the Beara peninsula, west Cork.