Entire Glenroe cast is to be axed - and this time it's no accident

 

First it was Biddy Byrne, in a carefully choreographed car crash. Now the entire cast of Glenroe is to be killed off, and this time RTE won't be pretending it was an accident.

After 18 years of portraying life in a Wicklow village, the drama serial's end came almost as suddenly as Biddy's, when RTE's director of television, Mr Cathal Goan, summoned cast and crew to a meeting yesterday and told them this season would be the last.

Mr Goan praised those involved for creating "one of the most loved and watched series ever produced by RTE". But he added: "Every series has its day, and it has been clear for some time that Glenroe is coming to the end of its natural life."

The Glenroe team had feared the worst since last year's departure of two key cast-members, Joe Lynch and Mary McEvoy, and with being a weekly show when more frequent screenings are the norm. But cast members were still shocked.

Mick Lally, who has played the gormless but lovable Miley Byrne for the entire series, attributed the decision to RTE's lack of enthusiasm for the programme. It had always been "more tolerated than actively supported," he said, a charge rejected by Mr Goan.

But the criticism was echoed by its long-time writer, Wesley Burrowes, who accepted Glenroe had "run its course". He stopped writing for the serial three years ago. Much more promotion had gone into other programmes, notably Fair City, he said, "but RTE has always had an urban bias".

Glenroe still has a very large audience "that doesn't make much noise", he said, and ending the drama made no sense. "But I felt the same about The Riordans. I thought it was a silly decision to end that, too."