Shanley elevates 'Edition' above the vapid morning fare
Perhaps the best way of describing RTE 1's 'Morning Edition', hosted by Keelin Shanley and due to run for the best part of two hours every weekday, is in terms of negatives.
It's not 'Ireland AM', it's not 'The Morning Show', it's not 'Midday' – three daily offerings from TV3 which are so vapid and inert they undermine the viewer's will to live, or at least to turn on the television set before lunchtime.
Neither is it RTE's own 'Today', that flaccid afternoon show, which gets repeated every weekday morning and which yesterday preceded the 'Morning Edition's first outing with 10 minutes of twaddle from a gossip guy about the holiday exploits of Katie Price, impending fatherhood for Michael Buble and the latest soap opera shenanigans – at the end of which co-host Norah Casey gushed: "I don't really have a life until you come along and tell me what's happening".
I can't imagine that ever being said by Keelin Shanley, who, in her own agreeably unfussy way, is made of sterner stuff and who brought to her opening show a bracing sense of journalistic seriousness – not least in her interview with Bill Gates (recorded in Dublin a few days earlier), to whom she put questions that were always intelligent and, on occasion, politely challenging.
Ahead of his Richard Dimbleby lecture on BBC1 tomorrow night, he was the show's star catch, though I lamented the presenter's phraseology when, following a minor technical glitch, she asked the production people "Will we go to the Bill Gates package?" Is everything reducible to a "package" these days?
Elsewhere, there was a good deal of repetition – four news bulletins, four weather forecasts, two business reports and two sports round-ups, none of them with significant updates. And Joe O'Brien's well-researched and presented tribute to the great Eamon de Buitlear, who had died the previous day, didn't really need to be followed up an hour later with a separate piece about him from another reporter.
And some of the items were simply damp squibs – a supposedly helpful discussion on job-hunting went nowhere, while Ciaran Mullooly's listless report from Tullamore on a songwriter's bid to raise the nation's morale was never going to engage the viewer.
That's in the nature of such magazine shows, which have to fill a lot of time with a limited amount of interesting material.
Indeed, it's unclear why RTE decided to embark on this morning venture, though it does offer scope for its personable and skilled presenter to demonstrate there's more to her than an occasional current affairs reporter or sidekick to Eddie Hobbs.