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Category: Behind the Scenes

TV REVIEW: HOSPITAL LIVE (RTE ONE)

WITH SEVERAL RTE presenters seemingly locked in a battle to see who can most resemble Alan Partidge, Philip Boucher-Hayes moved into a clear lead in the opening episode of Hospital Live. In a scene that more or less exactly mirrored a sketch from This Time with Alan Partridge, Boucher-Hayes was instructed in how to perform CPR on... Read more »

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PODCAST REVIEW: TALKING BOLLOX

IN THE era of landfill podcasting, Talking Bollox would be an apt title for countless shows. The name has now been claimed by Dublin lads Terence Power and Calvin O’Brien, and while its use is ironic, it describes the content of their podcasts more than they’d probably care to admit. Two twenty-somethings from Dublin city centre, the... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: KEEP IT UP (RTÉ)

THOUGH A trend of teenage girls giving up sport is of some concern, it has at least provided bountiful employment in the TV production sector. In the RTE kids’ series Keep It Up, ex-basketball player and PE instructor Emer O’Neill – whose TV credits include a stint co-hosting The Today Show at the end of last year –... Read more »

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REVIEW: STORYBUD (RTE PLAYER) 

RTE HAS long believed in fairytales, especially the one about its drama and comedy output being top notch. Other classic fairytales are revisited in Storybud, a series for young kids fronted by the likes of Jason Byrne, Doireann Garrihy and Baz Ashmawy. A worrying indication of what was in-store came with Byrne’s recent Sunday Times interview, which explained that... Read more »

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FILM REVIEW: THE CELLAR

BRENDAN MULDOWNEY’S The Cellar is a familiar haunted-house B-movie of a type that his film’s characters need to have studiously avoided in order to willingly move into the bargain mansion, open the cellar door and drop the stylus on a highly suspect acetate disc. Brian and Keira Woods (Eoin Macken and Canadian actress Elisha Cuthbert),... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: COUNCIL CHAMBER SECRETS (RTE ONE)

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THE OUTPUT from RTÉ Investigates is regularly among the better programming produced in Montrose, a trend that continued with this week’s compelling look at the post-Mahon Tribunal landscape of local government in Ireland. The programme presented a pretty damning portrayal of a culture where the nod and wink still prevails along with a fair smattering... Read more »

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DERMOT BANNON’S BOOKS

MIDDLE CLASS home-owners all over Ireland will be purring with excitement at the return of their high priest, Dermot Bannon, who will tell them what’s fashionable and what’s passé when designing their kitchens, living rooms, and various ‘spaces’. Bannon, who’s been off the air for the last two years thanks to the lockdown, was virtually... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: GENERATION DATING (VIRGIN MEDIA ONE) 

IRISH STATION chiefs’ love affair with reality TV shows absolutely no sign of abating as evidenced by Generation Dating, a laboured effort that could have been pitched by a Virgin programme generator. The premise is based on two participants, at either end of the age spectrum, attempting to find each other a romantic partner. (Next... Read more »

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THE BIG NIGHT IN / NEW YEAR’S EVE COUNTDOWN (RTÉ ONE)

GIVEN THE sheer volume of options available to TV viewers over the Christmas period, RTÉ – in the midst of a deepening financial crisis – surely needed to shake up its tired schedules to retain a modicum of relevance. Quelle surprise, Montrose fell back on a succession of jaded formats, fronted by an array of over-exposed... Read more »

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BOOK REVIEW: A STATE OF EMERGENCY (RICHARD CHAMBERS)

THIS IS the first book to be published on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Ireland. Virgin Media news reporter, Richard Chambers has become a well-known figure, along with other journalists, who have covered this saga for the past 19 months. There was certainly no shortage of material or major figures to feature in... Read more »

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BOOK REVIEW: PUNTERS AARON ROGAN

THOSE GAS men and women in Paddy Power must be getting edgy by now as real restrictions on the gambling game become an ever closer reality (odds-on at this stage). And, it is unlikely that the irreverent giant bookmaker will find much to jape about in this new book by Aaron Rogan, although the low... Read more »

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NEIL JORDAN’S PLOT DEVELOPMENT

NEIL JORDAN’S Marlowe has been filming, or in ‘principal photography’ as it’s known in the movie business, for a fortnight now, with tourist-depleted Barcelona standing in for 1950s LA. It has just landed another few quid from the Irish taxpayer. An adaptation of John ‘Benjamin Black’ Banville’s 2014 novel, The Black-Eyed Blonde, itself an authorised... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: LAST SINGER STANDING/ANGELA SCANLON’S ASK ME ANYTHING (RTÉ ONE)

ALTHOUGH ‘IRON Man’ marathons are generally regarded as the gold standard in remorseless self-punishment, it’s arguable that their final leg should require participants to make it through RTE’s weekend entertainment programming. The Late Late Show is already a searching examination of audiences’ endurance capabilities. But with the new Saturday night double-whammy of Last Singer Standing... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: THE DEIRDRE O’KANE SHOW (SKY MAX) 

FOLLOWING THE reshuffle at Sky that resulted in the unplugging of Sky One, The Deirdre O’Kane Show – a sort of poor man’s Live At The Apollo – has now surfaced on the brand new Sky Max. A Frankenstein’s Monster of reality programming and cheap US imports, the channel could probably more accurately be called Sky Landfill. Recorded at... Read more »

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BOOK REVIEW: THE YEAR OF CHAOS: NORTHERN IRELAND ON THE BRINK OF CIVIL WAR, 1971-72 (MALACHI O’DOHERTY)

THE BACK cover of this book is filled with gasps of admiration: “O’Doherty is a literary surgeon who uses his pen like a scalpel”; “Essential reading for anyone trying to make sense of a past frequently distorted by rival sectarian myths and attempts to rewrite history”; “A totally authentic account”. The three gaspers, in order,... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: CALLAN KICKS THE YEARS (RTE ONE)

BLACKOUTS, hospital overruns and Oliver Callan back on television signals a winter even more gruelling than the last. For those who might have enjoyed the resumption of NPHET briefings on Wednesday about the same number of laughs are to be found in the second season of Callan Kicks the Years, “a six-part TV series unlike... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: BARNEY CURLEY: THE MAN WHO BEAT THE BOOKIES (RTÉ ONE)

THE RECENT Barney Curley documentary on RTÉ that showcased the legendary punter’s famous Yellow Sam coup, orchestrated in Bellewstown in 1975, would have sent shivers down the spine of bookmakers watching, in particular any bookies who may have been starting out in the game back then. The documentary also portrayed Curley as a man who... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: DAVID BROPHY’S FRONTLINE CHOIR (RTE1) 

WITH EACH successive national crisis, RTÉ apparently feels compelled to commission a series in which David Brophy conducts a choir featuring a selection of those most affected. Given the national broadcaster’s chronic finances, perhaps it’s only a matter of time before he rounds up Dee Forbes et al for a run-through of ‘Money’s Too Tight... Read more »

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FILM REVIEW: DEADLY CUTS

WATCHING RACHEL Carey’s chronically unfunny Deadly Cuts is something like delving in a charity shop bargain bin in the faint hope of unearthing something fashionable for that upcoming night out. Instead, all we find is a string vest with too many holes. Unlikely though it may seem, Australian director Baz Luhrmann can take some of... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: THE TEAM THAT TURNED UP (RTE ONE)

FIRST BROADCAST on Eir Sport earlier this year, The Team That Turned Up – an account of the events leading up to 1973 Five Nations clash between Ireland and England – proved an enjoyable look at a story that perhaps had become somewhat lost in the annals of Irish sporting history. Directed by Luke McManus, scion of... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: GLOW-UP IRELAND (RTE 2)

WITH AN epidemic of reality show formats sweeping through RTÉ, the national broadcaster has now started turning to franchises nobody has even heard of. Produced by Dublin-based Indiepics – where Conor Moloney is MD and John Cummins is chairman – Glow-Up Ireland is (of course) a version of the UK original, which apparently commenced in 2019 on... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: THE BIG DEAL (VIRGIN MEDIA)

WATCHING VIRGIN’S colossally-hyped The Big Deal, it is hard not to recall Blackadder’s reaction upon seeing Baldrick’s Charlie Chaplin impersonation: “Baldrick, the only impression you can do is of a man with no talent.” Despite an all-out PR offensive from Virgin insisting on the show’s vitality and freshness, it simply proves a warmed-over version of the... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: MODERN LOVE

TIME WAS when Maeve Binchy and Cecelia Ahern were critically derided for their tales of middle class characters discussing their love lives at tedious length.

These days, John Carney and Lenny Abrahamson are showered with hype and critical garlands for similar stories.

READ MORE »

FILM REVIEW: HERSELF

THIS ULTIMATELY unsatisfying film marries two pretty standard subjects of social realist cinema—domestic violence and housing need—in the redemptive story of Sandra (Clare Dunne), who wrests security for herself and for her two young daughters ‘against the odds’. The story, initially titled Owned, was written by Dunne and subsequently brought together as a film project... Read more »

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FILM REVIEW: WILDFIRE

CATHY BRADY’S debut feature Wildfire is a far better film than the other Irish titles released since cinemas reopened, yet there were fewer than ten people at the screening Goldhawk attended on the opening weekend. Ironically, the film was prefaced by a Screen Ireland ad seeking to attract Irish audiences to forthcoming Irish films—a mountain... Read more »

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MONTROSE’S AUTUMN OFFERINGS 

ACCORDING TO a recent report commissioned by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, RTÉ’s chronic finances mean it’s staring down the barrel at an “existential crisis”, the reasons for which become clearer when looking at its underwhelming autumn line-up. There is more than a hint of desperation in the accompanying notes from director general Dee Forbes,... Read more »

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FILM REVIEW: BOYS FROM COUNTY HELL

THAT THERE is a strong thread of the gothic in Northern Ireland filmmaking may stem from the emphasis on hellfire and damnation in evangelical Protestant preaching. Twin bothers Roy and Noel Spence from County Down were spinning grand guinol yarns as far back as the 1960s with titles such as The Coming of the Black Dawn, The Testament of... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: DIFFERENT LEAGUE (RTÉ ONE)  

A BBC production first broadcast in the UK earlier this year, Different League: The Derry City Story was aired on RTÉ last week amidst considerable fanfare. The timing proved grimly appropriate, with the perennial divisions in Northern Irish football illustrated by a high-profile incident on the same evening. The Beeb was inundated with complaints following a... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: THE EIGHTH (RTÉ ONE)

DOCUMENTARY FILM The Eighth is a project likely to please nobody. Publication in July of the latest complaints made to the Broadcasting Authority (BAI), some three years since votes were counted, includes over a dozen rulings on recent programming related to the Eighth Amendment, referendum retrospectives and double that again regarding blasphemy on the Irish... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: ANNA GEARY: WHY GIRLS QUIT SPORT (RTÉ ONE)

IN A supremely ironic turn, the pedestrian Why Girls Quit Sport may encourage viewers to switch over to the football. Presented by ex-camogie star Anna Geary, the show follows a formula that has gained increased traction in recent years: a high-profile sporting figures picks a serious subject, has a few perfunctory conversations with people “on the ground”,... Read more »

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MARISSA CARTER’S TANNING DISASTER

TAN QUEEN Marissa Carter appears seriously browned off with her business partners, having taken to Instagram to announce that she plans to take legal action against them. These partners in the tan company are also behind the mega-successful pharmacy wholesale distributor, Sundrelle, which made a profit of €3.76m in 2019, bringing accumulated profits to over... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: IFTAS 2021 (VIRGIN MEDIA ONE)

ONE OF the striking aspects of the IFTA awards show is the irony of celebrating high standards with a show that tends to merely muddle its way through its time on air. Unavoidably, this year, any surprise element of the IFTA show has been undermined by the necessity to go ‘virtual’. This resulted in a... Read more »

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THE IAN BAILEY INDUSTRY

Ian Bailey

ALL OF a sudden it feels as if a cottage industry has emerged around the tragic figure of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, who was murdered in Cork in 1996. While her killing has rarely been out of the headlines for long, there has been an upsurge in the amount of journalistic effort expended on the... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: THE ROAD TO PARTITION (BBC ONE)

IT WAS once said about a dog that walked on its two hind legs was that what was surprising was not the way it walked, but the fact it walked at all. Directed by Brian Henry Martin on BBC NI, The Road to Partition (the first of the two-part series of which aired this week)... Read more »

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TV REVIEW: BACK TO BARRYTOWN (RTÉ ONE)

THE 30TH anniversary of The Commitments has seen RTÉ unveil the nostalgia-fest Back To Barrytown, a three-part documentary on the Roddy Doyle screen trilogy that also included The Snapper and The Van. The first instalment proved an enjoyable enough look back at Alan Parker’s hit musical, although given it was the first and by some distance best of the Barrytown films,... Read more »

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BOOK REVIEW: DON’T TOUCH MY HAIR/ WHAT WHITE PEOPLE CAN DO NEXT EMMA DABIRI

NON-FICTION literature about race and racism have surged in popularity over recent times and bookshop shelves are groaning with titles. One Irish exponent is historian and recently appointed board member of the Hugh Lane Gallery, Emma Dabiri, who has just published a novel tapping into this zeitgeist. It follows a previous offering that dealt with... Read more »

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