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  • Television in Ireland: the next 50 years revealed

    December 31, 2011 @ 11:36 am | by Laura Slattery

    Even if you don’t own a television, you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot about the 50th anniversary of television in Ireland over the next few days. It will go something like this: Seán Lemass… well Holy God… one for everyone in the audience… okey-doke… #JeanByrne. But enough of all this rampant nostalgia: what about the next 50 years? Here’s a run-down of events as they are likely to happen.

    2012: Analogue television is switched off, leaving snowy screens in households where the grand-kids forgot to bring round a Saorview set-top box. Audience ratings for Nationwide plummet.

    2013: Eamon Ryan wins the first ever series of Celebrity Mastermind and uses the glory of victory to relaunch the Green Party. The format is not renewed.

    2014: The Late Late Show viewer ratings are decimated as TV3 schedule a Friday night Irish version of Total Wipeout, hosted by Georgia Salpa.

    2016: RTÉ drops the Angelus and attempts to placate furious fans of middle-distance stares by making it available as an app for owners of Smart TVs.

    2017: There’s relief for Dave Fanning as he finally gets to the end of a question he started asking Michael Stipe on 2TV in 1995.

    2020: A TV3 documentary on breastfeeding falls foul of Apple TV’s terms and conditions on pornography and is removed from the TV3 channel app, sparking a public outcry. TV3 successfully appeals the decision. A publicity stunt is suspected.

    2021: After a landslide “yes” vote in that year’s referendum, it becomes a criminal offence to quote from a Financial Regulator TV ad that ran during the Noughties.

    2023: The labour market is inundated with unfeasibly chirpy continuity announcers who are laid off en masse after Irish media companies declare that no one watches “linear” television anymore.

    2027: Rigorous consumer research reveals that the phrase “roll it there, Róisín” has faded from the collective folk memory, although nursing homes are full of people still banging on about someone called Sally O’Brien.

    2029: As property prices make a return to “2007 levels”, RTÉ sells Montrose. The demolition goes smoothly, aside from a last minute protest by Charlie Bird. Within months, there is no evidence that RTÉ was ever located there, although the new owners confess to being spooked by the occasional sight of a flying vehicle later identified as the Wanderly Wagon.

    2032: After one cutback in the newsroom budget too many, Bryan Dobson has a “Network” moment. He is replaced by Craig Doyle.

    2036: TV3 admits it’s not the “real” Vincent Browne who hosts its late-night current affairs show, but a digitally generated avatar programmed to raise its voice in response to a fixed list of trigger words. The channel’s press office declines to specify when exactly the switch was made.

    2043: The analogue-era game-show Where in the World is relaunched as Where in the Solar System as the format is updated for the age of cheap commercial space travel. The losers are sent on a one-way trip to ex-planet Pluto.

    2045: Shortly after Christmas, RTÉ shows the vintage film 2046 as its Midweek Movie, even though the title refers to a hotel room number and not a calendar year.

    2061: As a series of virtual-reality riots tear a rip in the space-time continuum on the eve of Irish television’s centenary, the RTÉ News Channel is criticised for failing to provide live coverage of Ireland’s descent into a black hole. It opts instead to stick with a repeat of Reeling in the Years.

  • You don’t really know me at all, do you?

    December 14, 2011 @ 9:00 am | by Laura Slattery

    All I want for Christmas is a Christmas gift guide that acknowledges the tat as well as the treasure. Instead I’m forced to shun their glossy pages for fear I might absorb their array of snowflake-pattern hot-water bottle covers, retro cake-stands and pen holders in the shape of giant pencil sharpeners and fall in consumer lust… It’s likely to happen, even though I don’t use hot-water bottles, already possess a retro cake-stand and am capable of rationalising the pen holder in the shape of a giant pencil sharpener as an office stationery joke of limited lifespan.

    It’s a tricky business, gift-giving subjectivity. For example, 66 per cent of people think the “keep calm and carry on” meme, and all products emblazoned with versions thereof, is a sloganeering ship that’s sailed, but 85 per cent of people think that’s just a #madeupstat. All of which makes it important to highlight the dark side of gift exchange; the faux pas presents; the “you don’t really know me at all” moments. It’s crazy what you could have had, as REM used to sing before they broke up and released a greatest hits collection just in time for the Christmas market. With that cheery thought of seasonal dissatisfaction in mind, here are my top three “must not buys” for 2011.

    Tulisa’s TFB The Female Boss Eau de Parfum – Celebrities have never been known for lending their names to the world’s finest colognes, but this fragrance could waft like a bed of delicate lavender infused with only the finest top notes from the meadows of heaven and I still wouldn’t want its scent anywhere near my wrists. It’s the title that grates – the “female boss”, so exotic a creature she merits her own olfactory trademark. Tulisa Contostavlos’s controversial arm gesture at the start of the X Factor, showing off a tattoo of those three words, not only attracted the ire of UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, but also had the effect of making Cheryl Cole’s walking hair advertisement for L’Oréal seem subtle. So it’s a no from me, but with the obvious deep regret that Tulisa’s sometime band colleague Dappy has not yet brought out an aftershave called The Male Boss. And as X Factor viewers will know, Tulisa’s Little Muffins are not, sadly, edible.

    Top Gear: The Stig Soap on a Rope – The Stig is that enigmatic bloke who poses on Top Gear in a dark-visored helmet and all-white motor racing suit, like a Michelin man after a life-changing diet, only not as cool. The story of the Stig is in fact a sorry legal tale that came to a head last year when Formula Three driver Ben Collins won a court case against the BBC after the broadcaster tried to prevent him publishing a book that identified him as the anonymous Stig. So it would be fun if as the layers of soap peeled away, the helmet revealed a miniature human head, rather than reaching its presumable destiny as a greying alkaline clump of indeterminate profession, dangling from the temperature dial. The Stig’s shower gel recently stood defiantly on the bargain shelves of my local Tesco for weeks, proving that not even puberty is a compelling excuse for a personal hygiene range trading off the snarls of Jeremy Clarkson.

    BBC DVD of The Royal Wedding: William and Catherine – Ah, Kate and Wills, bless. The dress! The abbey! The bridesmaid’s backside! Relive all those romantic moments from last April on this special DVD from the BBC. Pause and rewind to see if Amy Huberman was actually there. Marvel over the construction of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson’s new nose. Did Samantha Cameron really not wear a hat? These were good times… or at least they were over on ITV, where reliable old Philip Schofield and company proved more willing and able to first identify and then gossip about the celebrity guests en route to their pews than the stiff-upper-lip BBC with its stream of constitutional experts, royal historians and awkward silences. So if royal wedding memorabilia is your thing, make sure to request the ITV highlights – or better still, drop hints about the charms of the made-for-TV movie version. It’s a bit like Made in Chelsea, only based on a true story.

  • Budget 2012: What have we learned? A 20-point guide

    December 6, 2011 @ 7:15 pm | by Laura Slattery

     1. Budget 2012 is the Twilight: Breaking Dawn of budgets: gruesome set-pieces, unconvincing delivery of lines and should never have been split into two parts.

     2. With no careers available to speak of, there is apparently no need for career guidance counsellors anymore. Hundreds of education posts have been chopped.

     3. Yes, Ryanair is important to the economy, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan acknowledged in a very rare concession to the negotiating hand of Michael O’Leary.

    4. The fuel season now officially lasts 26 and not 32 weeks, says the Government, whose faith in the mildness of September and April will surely come back to haunt them, and us.

    5.  Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin’s speech was a touch generic – in that he declared that a switch to cheaper generic drugs would save us millions.

    6. Post-speech press conferences will be scheduled later next year, so that ministers who depart the Dáil to attend them are not taunted by the Opposition for knocking off early.

    7. It would not be good if one of Ireland’s expat billionaires were to suddenly go rogue and attack the mother country, as the number of army brigades is set to be cut from three to two.

     8. “Many young men and women now see their future in farming,” according to Noonan – a self-sufficiency that could come in handy when Western civilisation implodes.

     9. Cash fares are dead. Public transport fares will increase next year, but passengers who buy the pre-paid integrated Leap card will, despite the name, be cushioned from most of the jump.

    10.  Private health insurance = rich man’s luxury. The VHI warns its premiums will rise by a staggering 50 per cent as a result of changes to private beds in public hospitals.

    11. It’s no longer especially economical, if indeed it ever was, to have more than two children, as families with three or more kids take the hit on child benefit cuts.

    12. The back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance will no longer be paid to parents of two- and three-year-olds, on the grounds that they don’t go to school.

    13.  On the advice of Nama, upward-only rent reviews are here to stay – a case of “up UORRS” to retailers. It will save taxpayers money, partly because there will be fewer shops.

    14. Public sector spending will be subject to “evidence-based expenditure policy”, which is code for not throwing cash at useless, pointless things.

     15. Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald accused Labour of “sleeveen politics”. says “sleeveen” implies “slyness, untrustworthiness, and obviously slippery character”.

     16. Noonan enjoys caustic appraisal of the “mental arithmetic” skills of his critics, pausing during his speech to correct various Opposition assertions on the impact of the VAT hike.

    17. By 2014, single parents of children aged 7 will be deemed available for full-time work and if they can’t find affordable after-school childcare, then… well… er…

    18. Cheap supermarket booze is on notice, with the Government signalling that Ireland may follow in the footsteps of Scotland, which unveiled a minimum pricing bill last month.

    19. If only we’d taken fewer duvet days… “Absenteeism is a problem in both the public and private sectors in Ireland,” observed Noonan, to an uncommonly packed Dáil.

    20. “Difficult choices are never easy.” This was an actual sentence spoken in the Dáil on Monday by Taoiseach Enda Kenny. And who can argue with that?

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