The year they didn't have to make it up
There were complaints – well, 15 of them out of 370,000 viewers. One was considered and then rejected by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, which concluded that O’Herlihy was simply expressing “satisfaction that the sport has gained in popularity in recent years”. Yes, even Catholics play now.
9 The Daily Telegraph relegates Hillsborough to the inside pages
Even given that the Daily Telegraph’s alter ego is the Torygraph, the newspaper’s decision to opt for a Hillsborough-free front page the day after the damning findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel were released seemed utterly bizarre.
A later edition added a blurb drawing attention to coverage of the findings in its sports section – an even more questionable decision, for the whole point of Hillsborough was that it was not merely a sport story, but a disaster caused by the “multiple failures” of the police, emergency services and other authorities and then compounded by decades of corruption and prejudice.
To most other British newspapers, and indeed many Irish ones, evidence that the police had doctored the statements of witnesses and performed blood alcohol tests on the deceased was big, scary news. But the Telegraph was in a giddier mood, with the alternative stories gracing its front page that day in September including one headlined: “Thief hid 20 mobile phones in his tights.”
10 It turns out everyone knew Jimmy Savile was a paedophile all along
No sooner had an ITV documentary – and not, notoriously, the BBC’s Newsnight – revealed that Jimmy Savile was a prolific paedophile, but dozens of light entertainment veterans and showbiz hangers-on were declaring that this, in fact, had been something of an open secret throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Later, when difficult questions started being asked about why they personally hadn’t done a thing about it, it swiftly became de rigueur for anyone who was around at the time to insist that they never heard a whisper of an accusation against Savile, and even if they had done, it was all just unverifiable rumour and gossip. The Media Guide to Self-Preservation was another top-seller this year.
11 ITV manages to keep the plot of Downton Abbey a secret
How many times have you seen the words “SPOILER ALERT” in all-caps and still gone on to catch that particular plot point out of the corner of your eye, spoiling everything? Well, this is one of those times. In October, Lady Sybil Crawley snuffed it on the massively high-rating Downton Abbey in a shock death that prompted column inches of viewer outrage – Downtonites hadn’t seen Sybil’s demise coming. Indeed, nor had anyone.
ITV had not released the episode to previewers, meaning for once there were no hints dropped that anything big was about to happen. There were no spoilers to avoid. In an age when most dramas have either already aired somewhere else or are otherwise well-trailed before broadcast, it made a refreshing change. Not that angry Sybil fans could be consoled.
12 RTÉ airbrushes TV3 out of existence
As RTÉ mistakes go, it’s hardly up there with Tweetgate. But when the station airbrushed out a TV3 logo on a microphone in a picture used to illustrate a news story about Jedward’s non-victorious Eurovision homecoming, the big question on everyone’s minds was why. Was RTÉ claiming exclusive branding-rights over the 19th-placed peroxide twins? Was it worried the TV3 logo might provide a subliminal reminder to viewers that other channels are available?
The broadcaster’s response was negative – it was against editorial policy to remove rival media logos and the rogue airbrushing had been done by a non-editorial member of staff “not instructed to do so”. Still, to paraphrase Louis Walsh, RTÉ has really made that song contest its own.