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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 25, 2012 @ 11:02 pm

    ‘Dead Money’ even deadlier

    John Grenham

    Having seen two more episodes of RTE’s “Dead Money”, I have to modify last week’s comments. It’s clear that the programme is not just good, it’s superb, an object lesson in how to captivate an audience with a single story. The two researchers, Steve and Kit, are television naturals who come across as relaxed, compassionate and funny. (And also wear entertainingly matching shoes.) Steve is an outstanding researcher. If I’d lost some ancestors, he’s the one I’d want looking for them. The single story in each episode is nicely self-contained and always embodies some wonderful piece of  complexity: how, after 150 years, there are only two descendants from a family of thirteen; how easily families can split and scatter over three continents; how the hurt of an abandoned child can endure through world wars and successful careers and happy marriages.

    A little of the asperity of last week’s column may actually have been displaced irritation at the main competitor, the English ‘Heir Hunters”, running intermittently on BBC2. Though the premise is identical, “Heir Hunters” revolves around the money, reflecting the different natures of the companies involved. Whereas Steve and Kit work as professionals for lawyers, on an hourly rate, Fraser and Fraser, the English company, get nothing if they don’t find a beneficiary. And “Heir Hunters” seems to have been made for the Attention Deficit Discovery Channel, with ad breaks every five minutes and a complete recap of the story every six minutes.

    ‘Dead Money’ may be in a different league, but its glossing over awkward details can still jar. Steve really should tell his brother that Irish General Register Office Indexes are online, for instance. And there are occasional odd leaps of logic or sudden omissions. If some people didn’t want their stories told, it would be interesting to hear why.

    Perhaps some of my sharpness last week may have been because Steve and Kit are now genealogists-on-the-telly, and I’m not. Perish the thought. Isn’t “The Genealogy Roadshow” repeating on RTE1 at 4.45pm from Tuesday to Friday this week?

    • Tom Donovan says:

      What’s all this bitching about how much or how they get paid? Who cares? I smell sour grapes. This is good telly. Genealogy plus human interest plus a bit of the detective genre chucked in. More please.

    • a confused person says:

      I don’t understand how they get paid and why they have an incentive to do this? Does their fee come out of the estate? Does the person set to inherit pay? If someone approached me and said “someone has died and wants to leave you money. Do you want to enter into a contract for me to tell you who?”, my response would be “I’ll get back to you” and I would promptly research my own family tree to see if I could find out on my own first.

    • Hugo B says:

      What’s the problem with letting the Irish in the UK watch it?
      Seems a bit nuts that we can watch all sorts of other ‘stuff’ on RTE but not really ‘good’ things (allegedly because we can’t see them) with a historical/genealogy theme.