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Travellers give Newstalk's McKean big UK break

NEWSTALK'S madcap reporter Henry McKean (left) could be set for bigger things after a UK channel picked up one of his TV programmes.

More than 1.4m people tuned in to catch the first episode of his IFTA-nominated TV3 series, The Truth About Travellers, which was aired by Channel 5 on Sunday night.

"I only heard it was going on at the last minute and then my Twitter started to go crazy. I suppose I should be looking for an agent in England – or maybe they should be looking for me," joked McKean.

The 34-year-old, who was born in Cambridge but who has lived in Ireland for the past 20 years, has TV3's former director of programmes Ben Frow to thank for his big break.


The 51-year-old commissioned the three-part series, which examines the culture, customs and day-to-day life of Travellers living in Galway, Westmeath and Coolock, Dublin.

Frow has now bought it in his capacity as Channel 5's new director of programmes.

Meanwhile, McKean's latest documentary airs on Newstalk this weekend.

The Lifts Are Broke Again (right) is the result of a 12-month stint McKean spent in Ballymun, where he investigated whether the €1bn spent rebuilding the north Dublin suburb had made any difference to those living in the vicinity.

So impressed was McKean with the warmth and wit of locals that he is considering moving to Ballymun from Dublin's plush Sandycove.

"My attitude to Ballymun has been turned on its head. I am seriously thinking of moving here.

"There are huge positives in Ballymun and some amazing people. Just a small minority bringing the reputation of Ballymun down."

In the documentary, one local woman tells McKean how locals overcame any prejudices against their address: "People would write on their CV they were from 'Glasnevin Heights', which was code for Ballymun flats."

The Lifts Are Broke Again will be broadcast on Saturday at 7am, and Sunday at 9pm.