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Hogging the limelight

It's estimated that, at any given time, far more actors are unemployed than employed.

With BBC1's The Deep due to burble to its conclusion on Tuesday, I got to thinking: how different would the figures be if its star, James Nesbitt, had followed his original career plan and become a teacher?

Nesbitt doesn't have to do much "resting between jobs", to use the old thespian euphemism for waiting on tables or drawing the dole.

During 2007 and 2009, for instance, he played the lead in four major series: Jekyll, Murphy's Law, Midnight Man and Occupation, in addition to numerous other roles.

I quite like Nesbitt; it's just that, once in a while, you wish he and that other serial over-killer Martin Clunes -- who was Doc Martin and Reggie Perrin last year -- would take a sabbatical.

Trouble is, they'd probably come back with an idea for a drama about a couple of out-of-work actors waiting tables. Starring themselves.

>corrie's smoking

Scenes of people smoking are almost as hard to find on television these days as dramas that don't star Nesbitt or Clunes -- unless it happens to be a news clip of Brian Cowen lighting the way for the rest of us smokers by grabbing a sneaky one in Croke Park.

Which is why one of the many attractions of Mad Men is watching Don Draper and his buddies smoking like there's no tomorrow (which, if you light up as often as the Mad Men do, there won't be).

Funnily enough, one programme that seems to have escaped the pressure to quit is Coronation Street, where characters have been cheerfully puffing away since the 1960s. Then again, would the sound of Deirdre Barlow's wheeze as she sucks her way through another stress-filled day really encourage anyone to take up the habit?

>just in case you missed it . . .

And still on the subject of having too much of a good thing, how many times has RTE screened all four series of Reeling in the Years?

You know when you're watching it for the umpteenth time and you think: "God, the years fly by. It only feels like last month since such and such happened." Well, that's probably because it was only last month that you watched the very same episode.

The good news is that a new series, Reeling in the Noughties, will be screened this autumn. Expect to see it at least 30 times before the end of 2011.