Have I got news for you, Mr Bakhurst

Mon, Jul 16, 2012, 01:00

Some handy hints for the former BBC man as he takes over as director of news and current affairs at RTÉ

You have to feel sorry for Kevin Bakhurst who has given up a pretty good job in the BBC – as controller of the BBC News channel and deputy head of the BBC newsroom – to become managing director of news and current affairs at RTÉ. A grateful Irish nation can only say to Mr Bakhurst: “Are you out of your mind?”

Actually, because we want to be helpful to him, we do have other things to say to Mr Bakhurst. We have some handy hints for the guy.

Mr Bakhurst, firstly, and perhaps most importantly: there is no Waitrose in Ireland. Did they not tell you that at the interview?

Secondly, Mr Bakhurst, and just between ourselves, no one understands Nuacht, so don’t you worry about it.

Please note that the sentences on the television news are too long. You can see the poor newsreaders getting panicked; the confidence drains from their faces as the sentence rolls out interminably in front of them, and then they lose heart altogether, with the verb still out of sight.

Mr Bakhurst, the language on the news isn’t Irish, but it isn’t English either. You really can’t talk about “the topliners of the West Cork Literary Festival” . Or “inspiring children to a love of science” . Repetition such as: “The private company charged with security for the Games will be charged...” is ugly. What exactly is meant by the phrase “the current history of Limerick?” All of these examples are drawn from the Six One News last Friday. And there was cleavage on there as well.

Don’t let Sharon Ní Bheoláin wear black. She is a goddess and looks so pretty in gentler colours.

It’s an awful shame that you didn’t get to work with Anne Doyle.

You know, some foreign news would be great. And a lovely change. You have a country here that has come to believe road fatalities are, if one may say so, topline stories. Radio news at the weekend is a car crash in several senses of the term.

As you stride around the television centre you may notice a small dapper man with a fondness for bright clothing and two-wheeled transport that some think betrays his years spent in variety theatre. This is our Taoiseach. Don’t startle him. He’s tired of surprises.

Mr Bakhurst, when you meet a member of the Government, call them Minister and keep calling them Minister until your tongue bleeds. There’s none of that “Call me Dave” nonsense over here. If you have a title you hang on to it. Call the Fianna Fáil guys minister as well – they’ll love you for it.

Be advised that in Ireland no one on an executive salary resigns.

There is a small but increasingly vocal minority that wants Brian Dobson to be taoiseach and Enda Kenny to read the Six One News. We all trust Brian, and Enda would be a great newsreader – he has the sternum for it.

Could you please ban the following: close-ups on the brass plates outside offices; intimate shots of the gates at Government Buildings; sunsets in the vicinity of the Four Courts? Thanks a lot.

RTÉ News has never knowingly labelled library pictures in its life. They show the same footage shamelessly, and never admit it’s been used before, unless it has been bought in, pre-labelled, from another network. You weren’t to know this, but every night during the tribunals we watched the same man with the same briefcase cross the same courtyard at Dublin Castle, and this went on for several years. It depressed us all so much that we ran out and borrowed money unwisely. And that’s how the country went broke. Honest to God.

Would you ever watch the News every once in a while ? That would be great, because all the other management people seem too busy to watch it, or to listen to it on the radio.

Would you not keep the London office open?

Still to come in this list of handy hints for Kevin Bakhurst .... Boring isn’t it? But that’s what they say every night, half-way through the television news.

Our financial calamity, like the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, was a man-made disaster. It’s just that we haven’t the energy to go out and look for the men concerned. Have you?

Samantha Libreri has to do everything. She’s very good, but still.

Never underestimate the Irish genius for taking offence. And don’t let it upset you either. Even though it is so powerful that all crowd scenes on Irish news programmes consist of shots of legs belonging to unidentifiable people who therefore cannot sue.

If you want a good work/life balance then live on the northside. That way you’ll see only Joe Duffy out of office hours.

Be nice to Miriam. That’s the law.

The population in the Republic wants a united Ireland, but actually don’t like the North or Northerners too much, and don’t want to hear about either all that often.

On the other hand Northerners, both Protestant and Catholic – or Unionist and Nationalist as you’re going to have to say in the RTÉ newsroom – quite like the South. They like our shopping and our loose peasant ways, and consequently we are blooming kicking them out of our way down here a lot of the time.

And finally, Mr Bakhurst, we have no “And finally” slot on our news – we do understand that it is an ITV News At Ten idea, but it’s universal now, isn’t it? We’d like a slot for those surfing goats, and all the rest of the happy news.

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