Did you see local-born actor Brian Doherty in Fair City this week, as the long-lost son of Mike who had a shocking exit due to a dodgy connection. Rumour has it that another Waterford-born actor, Andrew Macklin (McLoughlin) is to make his Fair City debut soon.
What was most shocking about Whistleblower on RTE1, over two nights, was the way people deferred and accepted as gospel the so-called professional words of a doctor as he sliced out women’s wombs and told them he was doing them at least a favour or saving them from near death. This was no dark ages film, but an all too real slice of contemporary life based on the reports of an investigation into a specific doctor and obstetric practices in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, published in 2006.
It was harrowing to watch the relentless gathering of facts and the almost too shocking to watch removal of wombs. A scene where a pregnant midwife who worked in the hospital begged the doctor not to remove her womb was numbing and then to think that her colleagues stood by the doctor and terrorised the whistleblowers. This was a tv programme where so many people not only stayed quiet but felt the doctor was right. In scene after scene the visual images told a more stunning story than the actual dialogue.
The fact that such a photogenic actress, Charlene McKenna, played Karen, who had her womb needlessly removed, made the story all the more poignant and real. It was horrifying to realise that for twenty-four years nobody questioned this and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that such cover ups still go on today in other areas and that there is still no legislation to protect whistleblowers.
You couldn’t help but feel that tv chose last week to shake off the feelgood mood of the Olympics and hit the viewer with more horror about the dark side of life. BBC1 had a work of fiction inspired by many true stories as it told in Fiona’s Story about the unhappy wife in an affluent family when her husband is accused of paying for and downloading child pornography. It raised many uncomfortable issues and the pale gaunt face of Gina McKee reflected the terrible agony and self-questionning she went through as she wavered about letting a feckless husband take baths with their three young daughters.
Then UTV popped up with the first grim episode of The Children with Kevin Whately playing a busy man who has split from a wife who runs a business and both use a weird upset son as an arguing point. The Whately character moves in with a woman who has a young daughter and is separated from a trendy dj whose new partner has a young baby. His daughter is accused of harming this baby and a horrible story unfolds over this and next week. You fear the worst and when you learn that BBC got cold feet over this show, that they originally commissioned, you can feel the chills and alarms sounding.
Philip Boucher Hayes gave viewers of RTE1 a doomsday kick up the bowels with a shock-horror prediction about our water. Future Shock: The Last Drop, was a timely programme to make us think about the water we take for granted. Sometimes RTE pundits come across like fully fledged Nanny Staters who purport to know what is best for us. But if only ten percent of this programme is factual, then we will have to pay dear for the water we use before that water kills us, however slowly it will happen. The recent flash flooding makes us so aware of the immense power of nature and at some stage soon we must respect the environment, not pollute it.
BRADLEY WALSH is now a key face with ITV since his crowd-pulling work on Coronation Street. He will preside over a giant Las Vegas-style slot machine in an afternoon quiz show. 30 episodes have been ordered from the Endemol team to be called, Spin Star. The main contestant – the Spin Star – will control the slot machine which will randomly select question category, cash prize and the name of one of five other contestants who must answer that question. Walsh is also lined up for a Saturday yea-time hidden camera show, My Little Soldier.
DEAD SET is the clever title of an E4 zombie thriller set in the Big Brother house. Good to get a use out of an actual dead set already rigged for cameras. The house becomes a safe refuge as zombies attack the nation.
BBC has spent STG£10 million in the last year on flights and that seemed to get more column inches than any of the programmes they made.