Monday 22 April 2019

Open House shuts its doors. Why? Well, it was a success of course

ISpy has become somewhat indifferent to the more eccentric decisions made by RTE, but even this column was surprised at the news yesterday that the national broadcaster has decided to dump its flagship afternoon show, Open House.

ISpy has become somewhat indifferent to the more eccentric decisions made by RTE, but even this column was surprised at the news yesterday that the national broadcaster has decided to dump its flagship afternoon show, Open House.

Having been on the air for six years, the Marty Whelan and Mary Kennedy vehicle had picked up a large student audience of late and the sight last year of ultra-hip rapper Coolio laughing his head off when two of the show's researchers stood in for some missing dancers will linger long in the memory.

Given the fact that RTE's reasons for the cancellation remain as yet unclear, perhaps they should just forget about it and give the show another contract?

Amidst much gnashing of teeth and renting of hair, Mary Kennedy reminded ISpy that "my book Paper Tigers is being reprinted. I think it would make a great Mother's Day present!"

Marty Whelan has, he informed us, "offered to personally deliver every copy of her book. Sure I have nothing else to be doing with my time".

Very stupid man also very optimistic Condom machines may not exactly be part of the furniture but they are a common enough sight in pub toilets.

What is less common is the sight of an intoxicated punter picking up a large dispenser and carrying it out to the boot of his car.

That's what happened in Matt The Miller's pub in Kilkenny and this week a bemused judge fined 19-year-old Offaly man John Kearns ?600.

Still, you have to admire the man's blind faith in his own performance.

Muslim world turns against reality television. There's a surprise We're not sure which genius came up with the idea of producing a version of Big Brother in Bahrain but it came as no surprise that the programme was finally yanked off the air this week following demonstrations and near riots by outraged Islamic groups.

Despite the fact that there were segregated prayer rooms and the traditional fare of Big Brother - will the contestants shag each other? - was obviously missing, that didn't stop the fun-loving Muslims freaking out.

"I have watched the show and it must be stopped," said 34-year-old teacher Shahnaz Rabi'i, who helped organise one of the demonstrations. "Our religion has strong values which say boys and girls should not mix together," said Ms Rabi'i. "This programme is a threat to Islam. This is entertainment for animals."

I Spy thought vigorous pounding of the remote control was the best way to avoid Big Brother but you can't fault their zeal.

Alistair Cooke refuses to go gently. Good As the longest serving broadcaster in the BBC, 92-year-old Alistair Cooke has been sending back his urbane Letter From America for more than 50 years and as such you would expect he could command a bit of respect from his employers.

Not so, however, and this week a furious Cooke rounded on the Beeb when they announced his retirement before he had a chance to break the news in his final broadcast.

"I'm absolutely appalled," he growled, "I don't know who is the villain of the piece but I have my suspicions."

The BBC are suitably contrite, but in the course of a 60-year career, Cooke has rubbed more than one person up the wrong way.

In 1968, while still working for the Guardian, the paper wrote: "Cooke is a nuisance. He telephones his copy at the last moment. He says that he will be in Chicago and turns up in Los Angeles. If all of his colleagues were like him, production of this paper would cease. But we think he's worth it."

You haven't seen him, right? We were rather tickled by the news that sailors on the HMS Lancaster have been warned to keep their parrot Sunny quiet during tomorrow's visit by Queen Brenda and her old man, Philip The Greek.

Sunny previously insulted visiting brass with her four-letter diatribes and bizarre behaviour.

The profanity-prone parrot also likes to bark out the Fast Show catchphrase "you haven't seen me, right" while also, bizarrely, shouting: "Zulus, thousands of them."

My goodness, what a silly complaint to make We all love the broadcasting complaints commission and some of the wackier objections they receive (and some of the even wackier decisions they make).

But even the most po-faced adjudicator must have laughed when one petitioner tried to convince them that the latest Guinness commercial which features a man jumping off the Cliffs of Moher and swimming to America should be banned "because it could cause hurt to people affected by suicide".

Obviously there are some people out there who have little better to do with their time than sit at home and wait to be offended by the television. Even so, this shows a degree of over sensitivity that is actually monumentally impressive.

What's next, banning ads for chocolate because they are offensive to people on a diet?

Ian O'Doherty iodoherty@unison.independent.ie

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