Wednesday 11 December 2019

Darragh McManus: It's not…really…THAT much different

RTE new look news studio Picture credit; Damien Eagers

It’s not…really…THAT much different. Is it? Be honest now.

The new look for Six-One News – RTE’s flagship news show – debuted this evening. And besides definitively altered opening credits (we’ll come back to those), this viewer for one had to squint hard to make out many changes.

The studio looks fresh – sort of – but also pretty much the same as every other news studio on the planet for the past 20 years. They all seem bathed in that mid-blue glow, as though you’re watching the news on a telly that’s been sat inside an aquarium tank.

Anchor out front, then, behind a big desk, as usual – Una O’Hagan looked mildly abashed to be centre-stage for tonight’s “big reveal” – with the background a blur of vague moving shapes and what appear to be computer screens blinking on and off.

It’s a little distracting actually; you’re there wondering, “Who is this person and what are they doing, lurking like that behind Una O’Hagan?” instead of concentrating on the news. Though that may just be me.

They’re using a different font for the informational text on reports. I think. Una’s desk is a different colour, I’m fairly sure.

And the graphics for the opening credits are unmistakeably new. Much lighter colours, which is a welcome change, and a welcome escape from all that deep-blue. It almost feels like resurfacing from underwater.

The music’s more-or-less the same, slightly tweaked, rendered a bit more peppy and a bit less ominous. I guess you have to operate within tightly defined parameters when writing music for a news programme. And in line with this new, jauntier mood, the thunderous “voice of God” dude who used to announce “This is the Six-One news”…he’s gone too.

Still, though. A reported €25,000 for this? For that kind of money you’d expect radical alterations.

A digitally reanimated Oliver Reed announcing the programme, perhaps, with the music from Shaft as a new intro theme, chicka-wah-wah guitar and all, and the anchors doing their thing from inside a steel cage modelled on the sets of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.

That’s probably being over-ambitious, though. Besides, we’ll always have Jean Byrne’s outfits, which would fit in quite nicely Beyond Thunderdome. So long as Six-One doesn’t mess with Jean, they can do what they like with the rest.

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