RTÉ unveils new shows for ‘long winter ahead’
‘Quirke’ and ‘Amber’ join drama line-up, new comedies set for RTÉ Two
“There is a long winter ahead, and I hope we have something for all of you to shorten those long winter nights,” said RTÉ Television managing director Glen Killane, as he launched the broadcaster’s line-up of programming for autumn/winter 2013/2014.
Flanked by three new channel controllers, Mr Killane promised “landmark drama” for RTÉ One and more comedy on RTÉ Two and said he was “scrapping for every last cent” he could get to give to programme-makers.
Although “times are incredibly tough”, recession hasn’t hit creativity levels in Ireland, he said.
Adapted by Andrew Davies and Conor McPherson, the three feature-length parts star Gabriel Byrne as the eponymous chief-pathologist-turned-detective in 1950s Dublin.
Four-parter Amber, made by production company Screenworks, will finally be aired this autumn, after its broadcast was delayed by RTÉ’s financial difficulties. The drama, about a missing girl, has already been shown in several countries and has been bought by BBC Four.
Scheduled for January, The Play Next Door features three writers who are challenged to live in a community and deliver a play for television based on their impressions and experiences. The series, made by Vision Independent Productions, includes three documentaries and three plays.
RTÉ One channel controller George Dixon, a British broadcasting executive hired from Channel 4, said RTÉ One was “a channel that everyone had an opinion on”.
He praised the international success of Love/Hate, but admitted that he had just reached the end of the second series box set. “I’m working my way through it.”
New comedy programmes on RTÉ Two include The Centre, a sitcom starring Katherine Lynch that is set in a community centre, and Damo and Ivor, characters from Republic of Telly who have been given their own comedy-drama.
Comedian Kevin McGahern joins the Republic of Telly presenting team, while The Mario Rosenstock Show returns for a second series.
Regular imports Revenge, Homeland and Mad Men return, while RTÉ Two has also bought Under the Dome, a 13-part US sci-fi horror based on a novel by Stephen King.
RTÉ is concentrating on making the evening schedule of RTÉ Two its “home for the under 35s”.
Its “light factual” content includes the return of the Reality Bites documentary strand, which this year features Angela Scanlon’s exploration of red hair in Oi Ginger! and Darren Kennedy’s “fresh look at sexual awakenings” in Like a Virgin, among others.
Maia Dunphy also presents a four-part series called What Women Want.
“It is grabby content, grabby titles, but public service broadcasting at its core,” said RTÉ Two channel controller Bill Malone.
Sheila de Courcy, cross-divisional head of children’s content, promised “pebbles and porridge and puddles”, and “splashing and singing” in the world of RTÉjr for its full debut season.
RTÉ may not be featuring Premier League football highlights this season, but weekend schedule staples The Late Late Show and The Saturday Night Show both return, while upcoming storylines in the 25th season of soap Fair City were described as “literally explosive”.