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Kim Bielenberg: Pat Rabbitte turned on by Mary’s tweaks as digital takes over

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Pat Rabbitte launched the digital era this morning with an off-colour joke that truly belonged in the age of analogue.

After presenter Mary Kennedy reminisced about tweaking “rabbit’s ears” on her family’s old television set back in the black-and-white era, the minister piped up.



“You can tweak my ears any time,’’ said Mr Rabbitte to Mary as he said goodbye to a system that endured for half a century. There was nervous laughter in the studio.



It was only fitting that the last programme on RTE 1 in the analogue era, before Miriam O’Callaghan clicked her mouse to switch it off, was an American medical chatshow, The Doctors.



The estimated 100,000 households, where screens suddenly went blank, would probably not have shed a tear as they said goodbye to that particular import.



After Miriam cheerfully performed her task on the stroke of 10, it was back over to Bryan Dobson who reassured viewers who might have been baffled by the whole experience: “If you’re still watching you’ve obviously made the switch.”



On Twitter, as the big switch-off happened, analogue memories came flooding back.



The nostalgia went right back to the 1960s and 1970s with John O’Regan remembering – “At xmas watching the telly through chocolate wrappers pretending we had colour telly.”



On this ground-breaking occasion @carrigman paid tribute to “Sally O'Brien and the way she might look at you." (A reference to an old Harp beer ad).



The turn-off was a bittersweet moment that brought back viewers to the age of Green Acres and Wanderly Wagon.



It was summed up on Twitter by @fustar: “Somewhere, out in deep space, the analogue shadow of a young Gay Byrne screams as he is sucked into the void. And becomes nothing.”

Before proceedings got under way the unofficial @yourRTEguide quipped:

“Pat Rabbitte just arrived at the digital switchover with a pair of scissors. An aide has taken him to one side to explain.“