No Shams

At least RTE1 avoided the usual paddywhackery of a movie on St. Patrick’s Night and served up a ghostly story by a living playwright, Conor McPherson, The Eclipse, based on a story by another living writer Billy Roche. Set in Cobh during a literary festival where Aidan Quinn was a drunken novelist and Iben Hjejle was Lena who wrote horror and ghost stories.

Ciaran Hinds played a woodwork teacher whose wife was dead and he kept having dreams – really scary scenes – that his father-in-law was dead, before he was actually dead. It was very slow and if it wasn’t for the shocks it would have bored me numb. Even then I don’t know why it was called The Eclipse but it was filmed in a chilly way like a Swedish film. Cobh looked great and Hinds is wonderful on screen. I saw him last year in McPherson’s stage adaption of The Birds and was well impressed.

UK Eurosong

So, they got Pete Waterman to write the British entry and no doubt he is a past hit machine. Last year Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the tune that went to No.5 but this time the final three singers were a disappointment.

The girl was good – great vocal work – but she blew it on the sing-off and the male singer who eventually got the public vote came across as an end of pier singer in a summer show or a cruise ship entertainer. Can’t remember his name but he was bland with a smile. The title was so catchy that I’ve forgotten it but it was about you bring the laughter and we’ll have a good time. Sounds like a good song but who will be laughing?


Fergal Quinn’s ties are the only colourful thing in the RTE1 series Retail therapy, when the ex-Superquinn guru is brought in to help ailing retail outlets. The drapery shop in the west of Ireland was a sad sack of a place that looked drabber than a charity shop and had racks of dresses nobody would wear not to mind buy. It wasn’t such an achievement to turn the store around but the programme was lifeless and lacked any pizzazz or zip. Just a nice little programme to pass a half hour pleasantly.

John Lewis

At the same time as RTE1 looks at small family style shops, the BBC2 is running a three part look at a British household name in retailing – Inside John Lewis.

A seemingly old fashioned style shop where all the employees are actually partners in the enterprise. Those who thought they had a job for life have had to realise that harsh realities are affecting them as their organisation suffered high losses in profit like so many other retail chains.

A new boss has to cut and prune as well as change the fashion image of an outfit that looks almost dowdy and unadventurous, but will radical changes in style and emphasis work. It was too early to tell but the series is fascinating.

Dark Cop

RTE2 have great success in buying edgy dramas from the US that seem to be bubbling under the ratings and Dark Blue from the Jerry Bruckheimer stable is a show to watch. Mean streets about a specialist unit of undercover cops who seem to live too far outside the law for honesty. But it’s gritty and stars Dylan McDermott playing against type as the head undercover agent. It’s on its second series in America but not winning awards as L.A ain’t Baltimore or Detroit. McDermott used to be the smooth lawyer in The Practice.

Bruckheimer’s company was sued by a real ex-undercover cop who claimed that he had discussions about a similar series and that his ideas were robbed. It never went to court.

Victorian Art

I know, the BBC probably make their art programmes with an eye of the history and such channels but Fiona Bruce excelled in Victoria – A Royal Love Story – by actually going beyond the Victoria and Albert Museum and looking at how they used art in their own houses, offices and even toilets.

Victoria was raised to be Queen and to live an unnatural existence yet her marriage to a German cousin Albert, to a story of private gifts to each other of semi-nude statues, ornate mirrors and half-clad models in big paintings.

They declared their love for each other through art as much as through their private lives. Up to the age of twenty-one Victoria’s mother slept in the same room as her and Victoria had to have a servant hold her hand as she went down the stairs.

Balmoral in Scotland and Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight had more nudes that a tabloid paper, a mixture of Highland romance and German fairytales. Nothing prudish there, Ma’am.