TG4 launches autumn schedule ahead of 20th birthday

New programmes include a comedy-drama described as ‘Spinal Tap with a bodhrán’

Hector Ó hEochagáin at the launch of TG4’s autumn schedule at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin. Photograph: 1Image/Bryan Brophy

Hector Ó hEochagáin at the launch of TG4’s autumn schedule at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin. Photograph: 1Image/Bryan Brophy

 

A comedy-drama showing “the underbelly of traditional music” and a new series about Ireland’s most dramatic seaside houses are among the offerings in TG4’s autumn schedule.

The schedule was unveiled on Tuesday in Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre.

It includes Fir Bolg, a new four-part comedy-drama series described as “This is Spinal Tap with a bodhrán”, which tells the story of a group of musicians who decide to hit the road again 25 years after an acrimonious split.

The cast includes Seán McGinley, Don Wycherley, Aonghus McAnally, and Caroline Morahan, as well as cameos from many Irish showbusiness personalities.

TG4 received €32.54 million in State funding in 2016 and is the eighth most popular channel in the country, with an average audience share of 2 per cent.

The Connemara-based Irish-language broadcaster celebrates its 20th birthday at Halloween (it was known as Teilifís na Gaeilge, or TnaG, until a rebranding in 1999).

It plans on screening a selection of documentaries from its 20-year archive to mark the occasion.

Brand new factual programmes this autumn include documentaries on John Phillip Holland, the Clare-born inventor of the submarine, and Mary Elmes, a Cork-born humanitarian who survived the Spanish Civil War and the second World War.

Seaside houses

Meanwhile, Tithe Cois Farraige will allow viewers to visit houses - some centuries old, others very modern - that overlook the sea, while An Ríl Deal will see well-known faces attempt to speed-learn Irish dancing.

In the new travel programme Hector Central, Hector Ó hEochagáin takes an adventurous journey along the Pan-American Highway from Panama to Belize.

Programmes for young people include the newly-commissioned Irish language originals Is Eolaí Mé, a science series, and Na Dúlradóirí, in which young people are encouraged to get off their sofas and enjoy the beaches, forests, parks and gardens of Ireland.

TG4 also retains rights to broadcast live Gaelic games and Pro12 rugby on its GAA Beo and Rugbaí Beo programmes, along with delayed same-day highlights of rugby’s European Champions Cup.