Morning Edition shows potential
After some last-minute tweaks to the studio backdrop's blue-orange mélange, Morning Edition has broken onto RTÉ screens and already its potential is as clear as daylight - potential to increase daytime viewing habits in Ireland, potential to begin a tradition for regular rolling television news and potential to make a star of main presenter Keelin Shanley.
"You're very welcome to our very first programme," she says at 9am, before introducing a timeline of what the next two hours of the RTÉ One / RTÉ News Now weekday show will look like.
It's the epitome of how its editor, Anthony Murnane, describes its target tone: "light and shade".
The big news story of the morning is a grim one - the killing of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe in Co Louth on Friday night.
Also coming up, Shanley tells viewers, is the first part of her pre-recorded interview with Microsoft founder Bill Gates, a segment on job-hunting and a chat with Joe O'Shea about The Gambling Gene, his RTÉ Two documentary (cross-promotion being something of a daytime TV staple).
A conversation with Alan Duffy, a friend of Det Garda Donohoe, via a live link to Dundalk, and a clip of Diarmuid Breathnach playing tribute to his friend, the wildlife broadcaster Éamon de Buitléar who died yesterday, are the type of interviews that would be squeezed to mere seconds on a half-hour news bulletin, but here can be played out.
Irish audiences might be more familiar with such personal, even intimate, material as "good radio", but it also makes for compelling television.
The sports and business segments work well, too, but on today's evidence it is the daily newspaper review, smoothly anchored by Shanley, that is a particular strong point. An easy-to-do item that fits perfectly with the show's "intelligent but accessible" editorial style, this morning it was the turn of political correspondents, the Irish Daily Star's Catherine Halloran and my colleague Mary Minihan, to take us through coverage of the garda killing, the European Central Bank telling the Government "not so fast", the incredible survival skills of James Reilly and (in an "and finally" touch) the tragic end of Jedward's recording contract.
If this was Sky News, the fact that all three people on screen talking current affairs were women would be unremarkable, but this is not Sky News, it's RTÉ, which puts out all-male panels so often it means this paper review line-up is still, sadly, remarkable.
Of course, live telly wouldn't be live telly without the odd glitch, and the show soon suffers its first technical hitch, as a report by Ciarán Mullooly about a charity song "that's designed to lift the country's spirits" freezes up within seconds - the nation's morale, it seems, is not for improving.
Being relaxed about mistakes is a tricky but vital on-air skill, but Shanley pulls it off, moving swiftly along to the Bill Gates interview.
I must admit my heart sank slightly last week when RTÉ announced the debut Morning Edition would feature Gates - a big name who happens to be in town isn't the same thing as a scintillating interviewee (witness Graham Norton's recent perfunctory exchange with Tom Cruise).