Jim Nolan

Last week the RTE1 Arts programme The View departed from its usual practice of having three panellists review a work. This time only one panellist, Peter Crawley, had seen and reviewed Jim Nolan’s excellent new play, Brighton, at Garter Lane and his comments gave a good plug to a play that has been retained for another week as the demand dictated. Nice one Peter, nice one Jim.

Sea Shanties

The young man, Gareth Malone, on BBC who made choirs seem fun television, moved to BBC4 to make a documentary on shanties and sea songs and his charismatic personality still shone brightly as he seems to bubble over with enthusiasm. Too much was crammed into one hour which was a pity as we got a lot of the maritime history and family history behind the songs but not enough complete shanties.

It is fascinating stuff, about small communities and their struggles with the sea. It served in its TV way as a curtain raiser for the Waterford Seafaring Festival being organised for the end of the month by the fine and lusty Hooks and Crooks who sing with the tang of the sea and the slang of the ocean wave. They have invited a range of European shanty singing groups to share a tune or two and no doubt a pot of ale or a tot of rum.

More Sugar

The Shug-Meister is back to terrorise not adults but teenage wannabe apprentices with Junior Apprentice or Miniapprentice as some Facebooker said. Not Siralan anymore the grizzly one is now Lord Sugar or Lord Shugga, but the kids spouted all that adult biz-speak and about 28,000 put in their names for a version of Jedward does Bizwiz – I’ve got what it takes to go to the top.” At least some of the boys looked innocent but the girls were pushy like Zoe of the winning team of cheese sellers – “No one wants to do business with ugly people.”

The Shug-Meister looked uncomfortable a few times but he still gave Wicklow Juice Bar wunderkind, Jordan the old heave ho. He looked young and vulnerable as he went with his arrogance deflated. The prize money is a bit pint-sized at £25,000 to start your own business. Exploitation for six programmes only?


Let’s hear it for RTE who gave us a great look at ourselves over a week with their Aftershock series. The programme that outlines more than 500 empty or unfinished housing schemes was an eerie scary reminder of how bad it is in the country. It was crazy the way developers bought fields and built houses where there was no demand just greed and delusion. Young couples didn’t want to be left behind in the rush to own property borrowed large amounts from willing banks to finance the dream and now the pain is hard to take.

Filmed in the ghostly green beloved of these psychics’ programmes, Ghost Land, was a kick in the teeth for reality. Apparently there are more than 300,000 homes surplus to requirement and now the blame game has started.

In Aftershock – Where to now? Matt Cooper made great sense by asking that the Government set up a NAMA to help some of the 800,000 mortgage holders in this country who owe over €100 billion. On Pat Kenny’s talking shop The Frontline, this got diluted down to a pointless debate about support for innovation as if the so-called smart economy would be saved by the next big idea. Seems to me people have got to get back to basics and start again and why this means saving more than three banks still doesn’t make sense to me. Should we stop trying to re-brand and re-market and actually supply what people actually want and do it better, cheaper and quicker, otherwise it’s more of the slippery slope of dreams and get rich schemes.


Maybe, the new coalition government in Britain will view BBC differently, but there is a problem with the current instructions from top management to BBC1 who want “Saturday teatime concepts with scale, ambition, jeopardy and humour.” They would also like “new ideas from Indie makers” and “fresh ideas beyond the talent show – particularly for Saturday night.” They specifically want less of : “Lottery shows or ideas based around dance” and “less game shows for Saturday teatime as well as less panel shows and celebrity lifestyles.”

Well indeed, you might say, but the top shows are Strictly Come Dancing, The Apprentice, Top Gear and Eastenders. Then it gets harder as the top commissioned shows are Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Total Wipeout, Over the Rainbow and Rob Brydon Show.

So where are these new ideas coming to come from to better what actually works but they seemingly don’t want that. Is that Jonathan Ross I hear laughing?