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We're so over Seoige

I'M SORRY, but I don't get it. The whole Grainne Seoige thing, I mean. The interest. The obsession. The hype. The point.

For reasons best known to itself, RTE continues to fart out would-be star vehicles for the Galway-born presenter faster than a Nissan production line rolls out Micras.

There was Seoige and O'Shea, which later became plain Seoige after Joe O'Shea decided bathing in Grainne's blinding light wasn't for him, and turned back to print journalism and radio, leaving the empty chair to be filled by Grainne's kid sister, Sile.

But when Seoige was axed after one season and Grainne's other high-profile job presenting The All-Ireland Talent Show also got the chop, RTE's talent wranglers seemed to be gripped by a frenzied mania to keep her in the building at all costs.

Having retained her gigs on Up for the Match and the People of the Year Awards, Grainne was announced at the autumn schedule launch as the host of sports quiz Put 'Em Under Pressure. She would also be doing a two-part documentary about women in modern Ireland.

And last night the venerable Crimecall became the latest scalp to hang from Grainne's belt.

The Seoigefication of RTE is now so all-enveloping, the national broadcaster might just as well give her her own dedicated channel, like Oprah.

What are the RTE bosses afraid of? That Grainne will rush back into the arms of her old employer, TV3, unless they hand her every prime show going on a silver platter?


She gave the impression of not being able to get out of there fast enough.

Do they think she'll skip back across the water to ITV? Unlikelier. The show she left, Daybreak, is giving every impression of being a rapidly sinking ship, and I'm betting Grainne doesn't do sinking ships.

As for Sky News -- been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

While you can understand RTE wanting to squeeze as much value for money out of its stars as the recession squeezes it, the Crimecall move is a curious one.

What we have here is a solid, dependable, worthy piece of public service broadcasting that's done a degree of good. It could be -- and over the years has been -- fronted by any number of competent presenters used to live broadcasting.

It's not the kind of thing that invites or requires an injection of so-called star quality. Yet the need to glam up Crimecall seems to be behind RTE's thinking in pairing Grainne with Philip Boucher-Hayes, a journalist of substance who seems wasted on this.

And Grainne certainly did her best to live up to her star billing. She was ready for her close-up, Mr De Mille, from the second the red light went on.

She looked ravishing: perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfectly tailored clothes -- in all, perfectly professional.

And maybe that's the problem. The perfection; the utter lack of a flaw. There seems to be a Grainne for all seasons. The raucous, salty, loves-the-bit-of-craic (Jesus how I hate that word) Grainne from Up for the Match. The fluttering, flirtatious Grainne of her defunct talk show.

What we get on Crimecall is the serious, empathic Grainne, staring earnestly into the camera, her voice dropping an octave as she appeals for information regarding some dastardly deed.

The problem is that none of it feels real for a single moment. It's as if Crimecall is just another gig for her, just another performance -- which, of course, it is.

If anything, she's a distraction rather than an asset. With so much concentration on Grainne's appearance -- how she's done her hair, whether that colour suits her -- there's a danger viewers might miss a vital detail, like the moment in last night's edition when a skanger robbing a pharmacy let his hood slip, presenting the CCTV camera with a delightfully incriminating snapshot of his gormless, grinning mug.

It's supposed to be Crimecall, after all, not Crime Against Fashion Call.

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