RTÉ summer schedule jewel is Olympic coverage


EXTENSIVE COVERAGE of the Olympics, an insight into the workings of customs and celebrity chefs in competition are among the highlights of RTÉ’s summer television schedule, which was announced yesterday. Documentaries and reality television dominate the line-up, which includes 11 new home-produced series.

Programmes on the history of sex and comedy are among the new entertainment series. Sex and Sensibility looks at changing attitudes to sex while The History of Irish Comedy traces comedians from Brendan Grace to Pat Shortt. Miriam O’Callaghan returns with her Saturday night chat show.

The summer’s celebrity-based reality television offerings include Fáilte Towers, a series in which 12 Irish personalities will take over a hotel for a fortnight.

For a darker side of reality, viewers can watch dawn raids, car chases and stake-outs in Customs, a new documentary series following the working lives of Irish Customs officers.

The stories behind famous Irish kidnappings, robberies, murders and disasters such as the Russborough art robberies, the kidnapping of Aidan Walsh in Beirut and Noyek’s fire in Dublin will be examined, reconstructed and retold in two returning series, Cracking Crime and Disasters and two new series, Heist and Hostage.

Real-life tension and drama may also be in evidence as chefs Kevin Thornton and Kevin Dundon go head-to-head in Heat as their apprentices battle it out in the kitchen. Amateur gardeners will compete for the chance to show their garden at next year’s Bloom festival in a new series presented by gardener Dermot O’Neill called Super Garden.

The biggest prize on offer this summer will be in Beijing as the Olympics gets under way. RTÉ will have up to 16 hours’ coverage of the games every day with main anchors Bill O’Herlihy, Darragh Maloney, Peter Collins, Michael Lyster, Tracey Piggott and Joanne Cantwell.

More than three dozen Irish athletes will be among some 10,500 athletes competing and new series Ireland’s Olympians will feature in-depth interviews with leading Irish athletes including Derval O’Rourke and David Gillick.

Some 75 hours of European football will be broadcast for Euro 2008, which will also see the return of the comedy sketch show Après Match.

“Our focus in recent years has been on bringing quality home-produced programming to Irish audiences all year round,” MD of RTÉ Television Noel Curran said as he announced the schedule.