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The Afternoon Show is back in its groove -- don't pull the plug

It's the Enda Kenny of the entertainment world, so it came as no surprise to hear that RTE may be considering axing its daytime lifestyle programme The Afternoon Show.

Like Enda, RTE has a remarkable penchant for shooting itself in the foot, often at pivotal moments. Thats why I'd be less than shocked to hear of the demise of The Afternoon Show, at the very point where it has settled into a formidable niche.

The programme, and its presenters, has been through the mill in recent times, dogged by allegations of bullying and reports of tension on the set.

Now, having installed Maura Derrane alongside Sheana Keane, the show has finally got its groove back. It has also grown up a little, developing the capacity to lure and retain the viewers.

Of course, RTE hasn't exactly got a great track record when it comes to programme longevity. The Afternoon Show's predecessor Open House was consigned to the scrapheap after five years, with the powers that be unwilling to give it the latitude to develop into a ratings winner like Live at Three.

All the signs point to the contrary, but I can only hope they take a long, hard look at The Afternoon Show before pointing the gun.

I'll admit, in the past I'd have sniggered at its twee-ness, deriding it as an out-moded homage to the drudgery of housewifery. I pictured bored women sitting on their couches, taking notes on housekeeping tips, obsessing over the correct way to fold a sheet and attempting to emulate the latest cuisine featured in cookery demonstrations.

That was before I sat down and watched it. Mock at your peril, because this is one show that is totally in tune with the demands and whims of viewers.


It achieves that rare feat of ticking all the boxes, providing escapism for people on a day off work, a window to the outside world for stay-at-home mothers, and a fount of information for everyone from students to the unemployed on topics ranging from consumer rights to starting up a new business.

Earlier this week, I saw an item on safety in the home, complete with a slew of tips that I found myself putting into action the following day.

I know many women who tune in just to see what the presenters are wearing.

And we'd all be lying if we said we weren't drawn in by the well-documented tension between Blathnaid ni Chofaigh and Sheana Keane. Everyone loves a good spat, and at the very worst, the alleged row got people talking about the show.

Think of daytime television and The Afternoon Show now automatically pops into the mind, along with re-runs of the Rikki Lake Show, Sunset Beach and Oprah. It's something of an institution for afternoon TV watchers.

Now, just as Maura Derrane is getting comfortable on the couch, rumours are abounding that this season could be the last.

The unfortunate viewer got a nasty preview of this rash thinking late last year when the top drama The Clinic was axed.

It's as if the station doesn't want us to get too comfortable with quality TV viewing.

Now I'm bracing myself for the sudden obliteration of the last episode of Raw, the one remaining chink of bright light in the current schedule.

After all, it wouldn't do to satisfy the whim of the licence fee payer, now would it?