RTE's line-up for the year is a real turkey

Cormac Byrne

RTE's New Year schedule promises a lot of laughs -- but the biggest joke of all is on the station itself.

The beleaguered state broadcaster, which has just endured its most uninspired Christmas schedule ever, stumbles into the new season without any real highlights.

The broadcaster will focus on comedy and light entertainment, after its trademark dramas -- its one area of success -- have been cast aside.

But experience shows when RTE does comedy, the station usually ends up being the butt of the joke.

A new sketch show starring Amy Huberman, which begins on RTE Two next week, has received top billing.

Ms Huberman, whose popular medical drama The Clinic was axed, will be hoping her latest project will buck the trend of RTE comedies.

The station is also pinning much of its hopes on That's All We Have Time For, which will take a satirical look at the news of the week in the style of the BBC's Have I Got News For You.

Presented by Barry Murphy and featuring panellists Mario Rosenstock and Kevin Myers, the programme is being heavily advertised on the station.

Katherine Lynch's Single Ladies is a six-part 'mockumentary', which is "about the life and times of a cross-section of finely honed Irish women characters", according to the station.

The All Ireland Talent Show is being joined by a sister show, predictably called The All Ireland Talent Show Backstage.

Presented by Aidan Power and Dustin on RTE Two, it will give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the contestants -- if that's what they want.

RTE claims the schedule gets 2010 "off to an entertaining and energising start".

Noel Curran, boss of television at RTE, insisted that the station will increase figures in the difficult year ahead.

"The January slate of programming alone demonstrates RTE Television's commitment to high-quality, home-produced content for the viewing public in this country," he said.

He added: "I'm confident that the schedule this year will build upon the 34pc combined channel share that we won last year."