RTE promises comedy, talent and Charlie Bird

by John Boland

Announcing its January schedule, RTE promises us “a wealth of home-produced programming” that will “get 2010 off to an entertaining and energising start”.

Noble aspirations, even if the actuality looks like being otherwise, though maybe there are some viewers out there whose pulses will quicken at the prospect of yet more attempts at comedy from our national broadcaster.

These include ‘Your Bad Self’, a sketch-based series starring Amy Huberman, Michael McElhatton and Peter McDonald, and Katherine Lynch’s ‘Single Ladies’, a six-part ‘mockumentary’ series in which Ms Lynch will impersonate a variety of Irish female stereotypes, much as she’s done in the past, though hopefully with more impact.

Starting this Thursday, there’ll also be RTE’s answer to ‘Have I Got News For You’. This is called ‘That’s All We Have Time For’, its team captains will be Mario Rosenstock and our very own Kevin Myers and its intention is to provide a “satirical look at the news of the week”. We wish it the best but, given RTE’s comedy record, wishing may not be enough.


Meanwhile, for those who sincerely feel that ‘The Late Late Show’ doesn’t offer enough showbiz gabble for the week, there’ll be ‘The Saturday Night Show’, which promises “a lively mix of chat, comedy and music”.

This is to be hosted by Brendan O’Connor, who made his name on RTE talent shows as Ireland’s curmudgeonly answer to cranky Simon Cowell — a snarling nightclub bouncer in place of Cowell’s bitchy hairstylist, if you like.

Speaking of talent shows, for those who simply can’t get enough of the ‘All-Ireland Talent Show’, RTE is now offering the ‘All-Ireland Talent Show Backstage’, presented by Aidan Power and Dustin the Turkey. If you can’t tell them apart, Dustin’s the one with the personality.

More seriously, there’s ‘The School’, which started last night and which is a fly-on-the-wall series observing the teachers and pupils at St Peter’s College in Dunboyne, and there’s ‘Music Changes Lives’ (beginning tonight), again school-based and providing “an inspirational insight into the transformative power of music”. Well, that’s what they hope.

Continuing in this serious-minded vein, ‘Stone Cold Sober’ will follow the attempts of six men to give up drinking, while the two-part Charlie Bird’s ‘American Year’ will furnish us with the profound insights we’ve come to expect from RTE’s Washington correspondent as he contemplates the land of the brave and the not so free. That should be worth the licence fee alone.

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