Jim Carroll

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Here’s Johnny

Spoofing the TV news has become hard work, especially when you look at what the real shows try to pass off as news. The dumbing down is not even confined to the soft items or the “and finally” stories anymore …

Tue, Jan 6, 2009, 09:47


Spoofing the TV news has become hard work, especially when you look at what the real shows try to pass off as news. The dumbing down is not even confined to the soft items or the “and finally” stories anymore – the dead hand of all-knowing presentation gurus means even serious items look daft. From idiotic visuals to illustrate economic woes to reporters shivering on street corners to deliver their spiels to camera, news programming ate itself a long time ago.

Then, there’s the honour list of TV shows which have already made an artform of the spoof news item. Be it The Day Today or The Daily Show, there has already been a run of shows which have got their creative and critical highs from poking mock-horror fun at how the presentation of the news have become an excercise in high melodrama. Anyone seeking to follow those steps had better know what they’re getting themselves into.


John Ryan is already on record as expecting a kicking for This Is Nightlife!, his new spoof-news show on RTE 2. He probably thinks it’s another chance for his media peers to throw a few punches at the man who was the leader of the gang involved in such exploits as (deep breath) VIP, Blogorrah, Stars On Sunday, Gay Ireland, New York Dog, The Sunday Supplement on Radio Ireland/Today FM and putting lovely girls on the cover of the Culture magazine in the Sunday Times from time to time. As far as Ryan is concerned, the Irish media will always look to have a dig at any member of their own pack who has the audacity to have ideas above his or her station, hence why he sought to get his retaliation in first.

The bad news for Ryan is that he was probably going to get it in the neck for the new show anyway, regardless of what it was like. But the good news is that This Is Nightlife! is actually nowhere near as horrific as we may have thought 24 hours ago. Ryan and sidekick Cillian Fennell (a tag-team previously in action to persuade Terry Keane to spill the beans about Charlie Haughey on The Late Late Show and in the pages of the Sunday Times) are not reinventing the wheel here and they know it. But the show is actually a fairly watchable hoot nonethless and it was certainly better than the truly appalling Project Ha Ha/Dead Cat Bounce dross which followed it.

The caricatures are perfectly executed (Trevor Corocran the sports guy and Una Og Nic Ni Suillicain the Grainne Seoige-like sidekick straight from the sofas of Bravo TV are particularly bang-on) and the writing is very good in places and mostly shapely throughout. There were even a couple of good laugh out loud lines – it will always be the Sunni South East for me from now on, the Rock the Recession gag was good if a little short and the rolling news ticker items were Blogorrah headlines redux. Best of all, as anchorman Johnny Hansom, Ryan sends himself up mercilessly throughout. Sure, there’s still work to do – the pacing seems a little rushed throughout and that weatherman character is no near as ridiculous as he should be – but there are the bones of a decent show here.

And, as if to prove that the business of real news is just as stone cold ridiculous as spoof news, you could always have flicked afterwards to Nighty Night With Vinnie Browne over on TV3. Before the bould Vinnie presented a show previewing just how dismal 2009 is going to be (and he introduced the latest readings from the book of doom with a smirk), you had TV3′s take on the stories of the day delivered in a manner which could have fit snugly – and smugly – into This Is Nightlife!

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