A ho-ho-hum as RTE’s ‘cracking’ festive schedule is a real turkey

by John Boland

LAST night I dreamt that TV3’s Christmas highlight would be a panto featuring Bill Cullen as Scrooge, Jackie Lavin as the Widow Twanky and Vincent Browne  as the Wicked Curmudgeon of the West, with TG4 showcasing Daithi O Se as Puss in Boots along with a chorus line of minority-language weather babes — both of which sounds more fun than the “cracking Christmas schedule” just announced by RTE.

Montrose’s main intention, according to its press statement, is to provide “plenty of laughs” and this it hopes to accomplish by utilising “Ireland’s top comedy talent” — which, given its record in this area, seems less like a promise than a threat.

Or maybe you can’t wait to experience an hour of “comedy talk” between Tommy Tiernan and Hector O hEochagain, who apparently are “childhood friends”. Navan has a lot to answer for.

Or perhaps you’re so smitten by the gagfest known as ‘Killinaskully’ that two other Pat Shortt vehicles don’t seem somewhat excessive. Prepare to have your funny bone and/or tolerance tested by ‘Mattie’ and ‘Inside the Crystal Ball’, both of them starring Mr Shortt.

We’re also being offered PJ Gallagher’s ‘Back in the Saddle’, in which the frantic face-puller — though don’t ask why — aims to get laughs out of motorbike riding.


Fans of Marty Whelan are also well catered for. Fresh from enriching our lives with the power ballads he favours on Lyric FM, Marty will be joined by Kathryn Thomas, Sharon Corr, Jon Kenny and Daniel O’Donnell for ‘Celebrity Winning Streak’ — a variation on ‘Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire’, except that in the latter the contestants have to actually answer a few questions, whereas the whole point of ‘Winning Streak’ is that you win every time just by whirling a wheel or pulling a lever.

We’ll also get to see Marty’s more serious side when he presents ‘Things That Went Boom in the Bust’, which promises to give us “a much-needed feel-good look at the recession” by highlighting “businesses and products that have thrived” during the recent downturn. That should add a bit of gaiety to dole queues.

And where would Christmas, not to mention TV schedules, be without food? To this end, celebrity chef Richard Corrigan will be going bumptious in the night with ‘Corrigan’s Live Cook-Along’ from Farmleigh House, which will apparently feature “live interaction” with audiences at home. I can’t wait. Documentaries include profiles of Vincent O’Brien, Liam Mulvihill, Stephen Gately and the trio of Aran island brothers who won last season’s ‘All-Ireland Talent Show’, as well as programmes about John Huston and the Brando film that never got made here a few years ago.

These apparently have been “specially commissioned for the Christmas season”, though there seems nothing about them that’s relevant to the festive occasion.

And where, throughout this entire “cracking Christmas schedule”, is Twink mentioned?

Does RTE really expect us to get through the holiday without Twink? Is nothing sacred?

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