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Nothing new to see in Naked

REMEMBER those heady, not-so-long-ago days when marketing and media people went through a phase of spewing out gobbets of wisdom like "Friday is the new Saturday", "comedy is the new rock and roll" or "staying in is the new going out", each one of them a glib, facile nugget of nothingness?

Sadly, no one has ever been able to dream up anything even vaguely pithy or witty to say about Wednesday, the midpoint of the week when everyone wishes they were somewhere else.

Poor old Wednesday is a lost cause as far as television goes, a fact reflected in the sheer dreariness of the schedules of RTE1 and its commercial rival, TV3 (let's not even go near the barely functioning RTE2, where practically every night is Wednesday night).


I was on a bus home from a family funeral in Dublin when Local Heroes: A Town Fights Back went out on RTE1, although the words "Feargal Quinn and his team of experts" in the promotional material was enough to make the heart sink and the head shy away from what sounds suspiciously like a retread of Quinn's dismal Retail Therapy, but this time focusing on an entire town, Drogheda, rather than just a single retailer.

On, so, to The Naked Presidential Election, which must have caused a substantial number of viewers to roll their eyes and groan, "Oh, no -- not more!"

It repeated the fly-on-the-campaign trick of last March's The Naked Election, with perhaps inevitably lesser results.

It was every bit as slickly and sharply made as its predecessor, yet because of the information overload the public were subjected to during the campaign from the relentless newspaper coverage and the revelations contained in the final, explosive, game-changing television debate, there was practically nothing here we didn't already know, and no nook or cranny of the candidates' personal lives that hadn't been thoroughly rooted through.

Thus co-directors Kim Bartley and Ross Comer's film worked best as a behind-the-scenes look at the machinations of the media and their often tense relationship with the candidates.

We saw Sean Gallagher sniping (alas, inaudibly) at the Irish Independent's Fionnan Sheahan as he departed Pat Kenny's radio studio; RTE's David McCullagh racing to complete a voiceover with just two minutes to spare before going on air; newsreader Aengus MacGrianna coolly adjusting his tie in the moments before the Six-One News cameras rolled.

I don't know why but I've always imagined that Aengus, who can do an expression of sneering disdain second only to Jeremy Paxman's, came into this world fully-formed, shirt crisply ironed and tie impeccably knotted.

Although I did see him having a smoke outside RTE reception once, so I guess he must be fallible.

If there was one truly memorable moment, it was the look of wide-eyed fright on Miriam O'Callaghan's face when she heard Martin McGuinness wanted a private chat with her.

But we already knew there had been an extremely tense encounter after that presidential debate thanks mainly to a Herald story. The following day, this newspaper carried the headline, McGuinness Ballistic at Miriam, over a story about that exact incident.

We described how McGuinness had asked for a meeting with Miriam after she pressed him on how he could square his religious faith with his IRA past.

Unfortunately, The Naked Presidential Election wasn't naked enough to let us inside the room to hear what was being said.

Exceptionally well-made but bereft of surprises and faintly irrelevant, this was one mostly for political junkies.

the naked presidential election HHIII