Oprah with a fada regards her new TnaG live show role with relish


She would rather be perceived as the Oprah Winfrey of Irish television than the Gay Byrne of the west.

But however she is perceived, the presenter of TnaG's first live entertainment programme is regarding her new role with relish.

For the next 10 Sundays, Bernie Ni Fhlatharta will meet a wide range of celebrities and guests for an hour-long programme of chat, music, song, and dance, with a little controversy thrown in.

A provincial journalist for the past 20 years, this thirty-something mother of three recently took a four-month leave of absence from the Connacht Tribune to front Bernie Beo.

Well aware of the criticism which has dogged TnaG since its foundation, Ms Ni Fhlatharta hopes her new live "interactive" show will go a long way towards boosting the channel.

"A new station cannot be all things to all people from the first day it opens up, and I think TnaG is doing a great job at finding its feet. TnaG is still only a toddler. I actually think they commission fantastic programmes," she says.

Ms Ni Fhlatharta is currently working for Magma Ltd, a Galway-based independent film production company which makes animated programmes for TV stations internationally.

She is hoping to produce plenty of animation of her own when she brings her bubbly personality to the small screen with the weekly show from the Black Box Theatre in Galway city centre.

"I have an animated personality and it is very hard to be animated in print. This is something that I have always wanted to do and it gives me an opportunity to be myself. "I do seem to have a knack of talking to people."

A native Irish speaker herself, Bernie is confident a lively show will attract a wide audience.

To her, TnaG has been great for the west, with many young people being trained in technical skills and the channel giving Irish speakers pride in their language.

"There is a stereotype in the Pale about Irish speakers and I want to break the mould by the end of this 10-week run. I want to prove that Gaelgeoiri don't all wear red petticoats or dance at the crossroads to ceili music. I'm putting my heart and soul into this programme.

"If I wasn't positive about it, I wouldn't be prepared to go out live on television every Sunday night. I would see Oprah as my role model because she empathises rather than sympathises and I'm not afraid to be controversial."

Bernie Beo will be broadcast live on TnaG every Sunday from the Black Box Theatre at 9.20 p.m. Tickets for the shows are available free from the Town Hall Theatre at (091) 569 777. The first show is next Sunday.