Television in Ireland: the next 50 years revealed
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.