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Anna Nolan: Why bully Browne is not the man to host fair leaders' debate

I watched Vincent Browne on TV3 recently. He had our own Terry Prone on as one of the panelists and it was the funniest television I had seen in a while as Browne lobbed in comment after after comment to wind everyone up.

Sure, it made for entertaining television on one level, but I didn't have a clue what it was they were supposed to be discussing.

Tonight, TV3 is supposed to host a debate between the leaders of the main political parties. But the idea of Vincent Browne hosting a valuable political debate is a joke, because anyone who has seen him in action knows it will all end up being about him. Vincent. Centre spotlight.

I've no doubt he will work very hard at making the debate entertaining and shocking. He will find it irresistible to goad, mock or simply insult those who eventually decide to participate -- and at the moment, it doesn't look like all the main players have agreed to show up.

Fact is, for every laugh, gasp or snort Vincent will produce from the folks at home, it will all ultimately and painfully detract from the real purpose of this event -- getting to the heart of the issues in the form of a debate between potential leaders of this country.

It's not rocket science. The rules of debating are clear. I remember when I was in secondary school we were taken through the process and the etiquette of engagement.

We learned about addressing the chair and sticking to the allotted time. We were coached on 'refuting' and how best to tear apart somebody's argument. And it was all done in a controlled, unheated manner. That is debate. But it is supposed to happen between the adversaries, not between the moderator and participants.

But this is the way Browne operates on his average show.

There is no doubt that if television political debates become a fixture on Irish television, they will change the way we choose our politicians forever.

When a sweaty Richard Nixon sat beside a very relaxed, attractive and charming John F Kennedy in 1960, it was a sign of things to come.

Enda Kenny is refusing to go to the TV3 debate tonight. He isn't the biggest fan of Browne, after Browne's suggestion last year during the FG coup that Enda should lock himself in a dark room with a revolver and a bottle of whiskey.

But it doesn't really matter who decides to turn up to this debate, because its going to be all about Browne.

We may as well get the popcorn out. We may not learn much, but we'll probably be entertained.

Toughest week yet behind scenes of Operation Transformation

WHEN the going gets tough, we go to the biscuit drawer! Or whatever our emotional eating food-ofchoice is. This week on Operation Transformation, people are falling apart.

It's week six, and the leaders have a disastrous week. The weight loss has pretty much stopped for some of them.

Jayne Glavin, we know, is a trouper. She has had so many ups and downs and yet she is still willing to go on.

But she has an incredibly tough time this week. You have to remember that she has a five-month-old baby and she is exhausted.

When I began working on this show I thought all the leaders would find the eight weeks a little tough, but would lose the weight steadily. What I didn't realise was the emotional highs and lows they would go through. The most difficult element has been fitting these new plans into their own lives.

Ronan is the one person who has consistently lost weight. Karl will say that it is easier for men to shift the pounds, but he is putting in the hours.

When the leaders go out every Monday morning, before the experts, to hear in front of the nation how much weight they have lost or have gained, it is a traumatic time. Tomorrow night there are very few claps.

Because the weight loss of the leaders is below five pounds. One person is considering quitting and I can understand. This is their toughest couple of weeks.

Tough ol' Blathnaid is grand, so don't worry

Blathnaid, me ol' pal, is grand. She is in hospital, after being rushed there during the All Ireland Talent Show. I couldn't ring her as I lost my phone, and when I saw that she wasn't in part two of the show, I got a bit panicked.

Eventually we spoke and she told me she is fine. She told me she doesn't need prayers (ta very much Amanda Brunker, now do have a lie down!) and she doesn't want anyone worrying. She'll be home tomorrow, bright as a button soon. G'wan ya tough thing, Blathnaid!