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RTE’s ‘Rebellion’ – truth and ethics be damned

There is a convention that should normally apply to critics reviewing art, drama, etc. of trying to find some element worthy of praise even in a review which is necessarily harsh in general terms. In the case of RTE’s ‘Rebellion’ series, that is difficult, given the overall awfulness of this entire enterprise.

So yes, of course, the actors did their best, one presumes, with the material they were given to work with – the lines that were written for their characters, and the directions given them by the series’ director. And yes, the wardrobe team, and hair and makeup, and set dressers and the other functionaries in the process presumably did their best, and some of it was good. But that is not enough.

A film or a TV drama or a staged play depends in the first place on a script, including the premise on which it is grounded. As the ideas develop the script will have a central plot and a series of sub-plots that weave through the narrative, all of which have to be tied up by the end. Crucially, it will also have its main characters – the protagonist (hero) who has a need or goal, and the antagonist (villain) who blocks the achievement of that need or goal. Think of Neil Jordan’s ‘Collins’, Spielberg’s ‘Schindler’s List’, or Dorothy and the Wicked Witch in ‘The Wizard of Oz’. We all understand this aspect of story-telling, partly through instinct and life experience and partly because we implicitly know the structure of story-telling. Good guy, bad guy, and the journey towards resolution.

Presented as it was, Rebellion’ failed hopelessly on these essential elements. Who was the protagonist? Who was the antagonist?

Yes, the protagonist can be a group of people, but that group has to have a common objective – a goal or a need. Given that this series is supposed to be about three young women with the 1916 revolution playing out as moving wallpaper behind their stories, what is their common goal? I can’t see it. And who is the antagonist? Given the surface story, the three women, it cannot be the British Empire except in the case of one of them and partly in the case of another. Is it the patriarchal culture in which they live? If so, the revolution is an unnecessary diversion from the story that needs to be told, since its mission to create an egalitarian society is never teased out. Instead, the revolutionaries are presented, particularly in the form of Patrick Pearse, as being arch-Catholic and conservative, essentially no different to the status quo in terms of attitudes to women, so why bother with the revolution at all?

But the scriptwriter has another crucial task to do if he/she is going to create a credible  and engaging drama, and that is in the creation of characters that ring true to the audience, that we care about, that we gradually understand in terms of the goal or need and where in the character’s psychology that springs from. What character flaw do each carry into the story which they must overcome in order to achieve their goal or need? It is a job that simply must be done, to construct a back-story for the character so that even before we first see and hear them on stage or on screen they already exist in a complete form. An actor can work with that, but not without it.

That, Colin Teevan has utterly failed to do. He has shown us three young women who are at best half-formed in dramatic terms. I could not bring myself to care about any of them, and as the series went on it became obvious that the three-women story was just a soap-opera device, and an opportunity to divert our attention from the potential excitement of the real story of the 1916 revolution.

And in the story of the revolution, and more importantly the revolutionary characters, Teevan failed even more dismally. A character’s backstory has to be true and credible whether a fictional character, but even more so when it is based on a real, once-living, person. For a writer to use the stage, film or television to traduce the character of a real person, and to do it gratuitously as in the case of his portrayal of Patrick Pearse is reprehensible, unprofessional and worthy of outright condemnation regardless of one’s attitude to Patrick Pearse. Pearse lived, had a unique character as we all do, harboured a set of ideas, worked in the world in a variety of political and social ways, had friends and enemies, had a goal and a need which was to free Ireland from the clutches of the empire and to replace it with an enlightened modern republic, penned his name to a very progressive Proclamation and in the process knowingly signed his own death warrant. But that is not the Pearse that Teevan and his collaborators want us to see and to know.

Would that we could sue Teevan and his collaborators for slandering a dead man, because that slander was perpetrated knowingly, and carefully planned as part of the overall noxious enterprise. Prominent among those collaborators is Jane Gogan, RTE’s Head of Drama. Gogan has received high-quality training in screen-writing via the New York University screen-writing course presented at UCD in 1995. I know that because I also attended that superb course. There is simply no excuse for her not to have insisted on great care being taken in the creation of fictional characters and plot construction, but particularly in the truthful representation of a living or once-living person. The ethics of screenwriting demands that.

And ethics must form part of our evaluation of this series. It is unethical to portray the actions and the motivations of a set of historical characters, from the leaders to the rank-and-file in a revolution, in a way that runs counter to known fact. It is unethical to distort fact in such a way as to manipulate public sentiment towards a part of the history that the public not only shares but owns. The 1916 revolution is part of the backstory of each of us as individuals and of us as a collective, whether we acknowledge it or not, or whether we take one side or the other. It represents the facts of a past from which we have emerged and around which we have been culturally moulded.

When a social/political class interferes in a significant way – outside of the acceptable expression of opposing opinions – by altering facts or deliberately misrepresenting key figures so as to manipulate our understanding of history and therefore the backstory to the world we live in today, then that becomes a political act, an act of altering our perceptions through propaganda so as to suit the political and social exigencies of this moment in time and future time as they affect the privileged status of members of the political class.

I have no doubt at all that this dreadful series was concocted to be what it is – a shallow soap-opera that provides the vehicle for portraying the 1916 revolution in a very bad light – at a series of meetings, which I have outlined in a previous review of an episode. Those meetings included senior personnel from the publicly funded State broadcaster, and involved the spending of about €6 million of our money on a production that disseminates highly negative and counter-factual propaganda against a key moment in our history and its central characters.

It is not difficult to discern just who is intended to be the beneficiary of that publicly funded propaganda. It is of course the counter-revolutionary class, the political class, to which those who created this series belong and from membership of which class they benefit in terms of continuation of power, privilege, and wealth. It is the counter-revolutionary class that is challenged by the facts of history and the true characters of the leaders and the rank-and-file of the revolution.

And we can’t have that.

Truth, and ethics, be damned.

 

 

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RTE’s ‘Rebellion’ – slandering heroes while creating dross

‘Rebellion’ episode 4.

Well, it doesn’t get much lower than this.

Patrick Pearse, so as to ensure his own execution, is portrayed in this dreadful travesty of the 1916 Revolution as a man willing to guarantee the execution of his fellow signatories to the Proclamation to achieve that end.

The writer and executive producer of this farcical production, Colin Teevan, deserves to be the subject of public opprobrium and ostracism. This was the final indicator in a series of indicators of his intention to portray Pearse in the worst light possible – as a self-centred and evidently insane psychopath. He laid the groundwork for that in each of the scenes in which Pearse appeared from the first episode to tonight’s.

The truth is that Pearse was a complex man, but an honourable one. He was not driven by ego, but by a desire to enhance the lives of others – his considerable work in the area of education at great financial cost to himself bears that out. But the makers of this series have worked by the dictum of never letting the truth get in the way of a lucrative and politically slanted story.

Although Teevan bears much of the responsibility for what is in the first place the writer’s creation, there are others who also bear responsibility. A television series such as this involves an initial proposal, commissioning process, a set of script editors and researchers / historical advisers, producers and a production team, and a director and his team.

Jane Gogan, RTE’s Head of Drama, should be made to carry the can on behalf of the State broadcaster – but that won’t happen. She may well be promoted, RTE being RTE.

The producers Zodiak Media Ireland and Touchstone – in association with Element Pictures – all had oversight of this series, and of the script-writing process. That Element Pictures, with all of their experience – including working with Ken Loach on Jimmy’s Hall – should have put their name to this is a very black mark against their judgement, at least as far as I am concerned.

Somebody made the decision to employ a director from Finland, a man who could not be expected to either know or have much interest in the details of the revolution, including the characters of its principal players. And so his culpability is less than those who chose him for the job. But even so, his direction of this series has been markedly poor – creatively and technically.

Bad enough that it is a mess. It is like watching a car crash in slow motion when we might see that if the driver took corrective action the crash might be avoided. But no. Jane Gogan saw the series before it was cleared to be aired, and so did dozens of others, from high-ranking RTE personnel to producers and distributors. None of them cried ‘Halt!’.

Jane Gogan tried to insert a get-out-of-jail clause in the RTE press release announcing the production. She said – “Rebellion will tell personal stories which are intertwined with the political events of the time. However, it is a drama, not a history lesson, and our story is told from the perspectives of a group of fictional characters who live through the political events of 1916. Men, women and children from Belfast, Dublin and London – people whose lives were irrevocably changed by this extraordinary period.”

That won’t wash. ‘Rebellion’ is a drama that is played out around an event that occurred and which is heavily documented – the before, the during, and the after. It is designed to be RTE’s flagship production to mark the centenary of the event that occurred and it brings that history into play – although warping it in the process, and it brings key characters into play – although warping their input and their very characters in the process.

This is indeed a drama, but one which is based on the foundational narrative of independent Ireland, the key narrative in modern Irish history, and so Jane Gogan is being entirely disingenuous by trying to use that get-out-of-jail clause. It is not Love/Hate or Glenroe. It should not be wholly fiction, although it has turned out to be.

There were a number of decisions which were quite obviously consciously made. One was to adopt the revisionist take on 1916 which in its more extreme versions has been largely discredited. Another was to traduce the characters of real people. Yet another was to swamp the story of 1916 in the centenary year in a drama largely about the comings and goings of of establishment families and characters.

Those are political decisions and they were made by people who are embedded in the political class.

It is dreadful so far, and it is going to get even worse.

Mark my words again.


RTE’s ‘Rebellion’ series, and its propaganda value

There are occasions in life when time that can never be retrieved is expended on something that is worthless. So far, three valuable hours of my life has been wasted on what RTE describes as a ‘commemorative drama’ to herald the beginning of the Centenary year of the 1916 revolution. Wasted, other than in terms of understanding the propaganda value to the political class even of badly constructed ‘historical’ costume drama – although describing ‘Rebellion’ as coherent drama is stretching it.

I quibbled after the first episode about the use of the term ‘Rebellion’ instead of the more accurate term ‘Revolution’, but it finally dawned on me with Episode 3 that what the writer, director and producers really mean is that this is about rebelliousness within the featured families, to which the 1916 Revolution is just a backdrop.

It would be a useful exercise after the series comes to an end to put a stopwatch to good use to work out the proportion of the five hours of screen-time that is devoted to an exceedingly poor and skewed telling of the story of the 1916 Revolution, and what proportion was used to tell the confusing, intertwined, and fairly inconsequential stories of domestic disagreement. There is of course a market for the latter, and for its setting in a sort of ‘upstairs-downstairs’ genre, but this series, more soap than serious drama, should not be its vehicle.

The 1916 Revolution – what was it really about, who made up the rank-and-file – essential to the creation of a revolution, what scale of operation was in play, what impediments to success existed? Nobody can be any the wiser by relying on this series.

The leaders – who were they, what were they like, what did they believe in, was there a plan, had they some endgame, some vision? Nobody can be any the wiser by relying on this series.

Where is Tom Clarke, or Seán MacDiarmada, or Joe Plunkett, three iconic signatories of the Proclamation, all present in the GPO – but not so far in this sorry series? No clue as to their characters, and precious little of James Connolly’s – relegated to a bit part, or of Patrick Pearse’s – other than his addiction to prayer, his deference to the clergy, his obsession with blood sacrifice, and a capacity for rhetorical exaggeration – as RTE would have us believe.

Where is the evidence of strong public support particularly in the impoverished inner city tenements, without which the revolution could not have lasted almost a week? We know it was there, we who have bothered to acquaint ourselves with the true narrative. Instead, that hoary old myth of widespread public disaffection with the revolution is hammered home at every opportunity.

Episode 3 begins with some bearded chap being put up against a wall and shot by firing squad. Who was he? We are none the wiser by the end of Episode 3. Why might it be important to know that he was Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, a journalist, an advanced-feminist, a pacifist who had played no part in the revolution itself? Because, perhaps, that it is true, and that he was murdered on the command of a crazed, out-of-control British army officer – an essential detail of the 1916 narrative – but not as the masses are supposed to know it since it would upset the entirely revisionist slant of this television disaster, a revisionism that is deliberately applied. And so it goes on.

Against fleeting scenes of chaos, created as we are led to believe by violent anti-democratic nutcases hell-bent on creating a Catholic state, we are encouraged to note the stabilising influence and the manners and the etiquette of both the Irish ‘Castle Catholics’ and their British masters in Dublin Castle. Fast-forward by 100 years and we see the same spurious choice being presented to the people by the political class – ‘stability’ or ‘chaos’, white or black, good or bad. No need to tease out what each side really stood for back then, or what each side stands for now.

There are those who ask ‘what matter – it is only TV drama?’. Propaganda is at its most effective when it is inserted subtly into the thought-processes of its target audience, and repeated through various forms from news and current affairs, commentary, and yes, entertainment. That works, as Joseph Goebbels knew all too well.

RTE claims an audience of 600,000 for its first episode of ‘Rebellion’. A large proportion of these will vote in the upcoming general election in which the main choice will be between, the political class tells us, stability or chaos. And that audience is also entering into the centenary year of the 1916 revolution with its competing interpretations, one of which champions the Redmondite parliamentarian Home Rule option over the other – the right of a people to self-determination and self-government, to be established through revolution where no other viable option was available. Presenting a partisan and therefore skewed version of the 1916 revolution primes at least a part of that audience to adopt a negative view of the legitimacy of that revolution and of its leaders, and that represents a highly political intervention in the popular history of 1916 on the part of the State broadcaster, RTE. It is not, presented in that way, just TV drama.

‘Rebellion’ looks like a cheap production, but cost as much as Ken Loach spent making The Wind That Shakes The Barley – an excellent production for the big screen, which grossed three times its production costs at the international box-office. Why wasn’t Loach asked to make this series? It is not as if he lacks experience. But then, he could be relied on to create a credible narrative around the main story of revolution and to consign the less consequential sub-plots to their rightful places. That would not suit the political class, including its RTE functionaries.

The 1916 revolution is an intriguing, exciting and rich human story, as rich in dramatic potential – characters, incidents and plot-lines – as was the highly successful and accurate 1913 Lockout TV drama ‘Strumpet City’, produced by RTE in 1980. ‘Rebellion’ on the other hand is dross. Some people, their names figuring prominently on the credits of each episode, opted for dross, and each received a considerable reward tor taking that option.

The foundational narrative of modern Ireland – in which the 1916 Revolution is the inciting incident – deserves to be treated with a modicum of respect. That is entirely absent in this spurious version.

There are times when we remark that ‘you couldn’t make it up’. The series writer did, with input from others.

And there are times when we remark that ‘it couldn’t get any worse’. Oh yes it can, and it will.

Of that I am certain.


The deliberate disaster that is RTE’s ‘Rebellion’

The flagship TV programme offered by State broadcaster RTE to mark the centenary of the 1916 revolution is a five-part series, ‘Rebellion’. Better that RTE had decided to do nothing. Here are my reactions to the first two episodes, formed immediately after each episode was broadcast.

January 3rd – Episode 1

Yes, I am a quibbler, but only when I think something is important enough to warrant quibbling about. A significant series by the State broadcaster about the seminal event of modern Irish history in its centenary is important enough since for many Irish people it may provide the main information they have, in a country which teaches modern Irish history so poorly (not by accident!).

First – The title of the series. Words are very important since they carry meaning. 1916 was not about a simple ‘rebellion’ – a refusal of obedience or order – but was about much more; a profound change in government, constitution and social order which should be described as ‘revolution’. Using terms such as ‘rebellion’, ‘rising’ or ‘insurrection’ downplays the event, which is why the British used those terms, and later, the counter-revolutionaries who took power. The series should be called ‘Revolution’, but maybe that is a bridge too far for the reactionaries in RTE.

Second – whoever cast Camille O’Sullivan as Constance Markeivicz was surely taking the piss. Leaving aside her talent as an actress, casting her in that part is like casting Oliver Hardy as Stan Laurel. Appearances do matter, particularly in an historical costume drama. Markievicz’s physical appearance bears no resemblance whatever to O’Sullivan’s.

Third – whoever wrote Markievicz’s introductory scene, and the lines and actions she was given, was taking the double-piss. Markievicz was anything but unhinged, but that is what various revisionists – Eoghan Harris, Ruth Dudley-Edwards, Ann Matthews and others would have us believe. That scene traduced the character of Markievicz and is simply unbelievable to anyone who has researched Markievicz, which is what the scriptwriter should have done.

Apart from that, for the most part the set-up, which is what the first episode of a drama series is, was reasonably good. Of course there is another quibble – Dublin in 1916 had the worst slums in Europe, and why the director didn’t make sure to show it as a filthy tip in those slum areas, with emaciated adults and children, is beyond me. Given the social conditions the poor find themselves living in today it is not as if it would be difficult to find both emaciated adults and children as a backdrop. Why is that important? Because it gives context to the revolution in terms of extreme social conditions. It gives the revolution meaning and legitimacy.

Last quibble. I know costume drama series are expensive to make, but this is RTE’s big contribution to the centenary year in terms of drama. I understand that there have to be ad-breaks, and I can live with that. But why the hell does a series about such an important part of our history have to be commercialised to the extent that it is sponsored by Kia, to promote their Sportage model? It seems unnecessarily crass to me. It should be sponsored by us, through the licence we pay, and the excessive taxes that the poorer among us pay which bolster the wealth of the political class.

But then I am a quibbler.

When it is important to be.

January 10th – Episode 2

More than a quibble this week about RTE’s revisionist offering for the 1916 Centenary.

Did the writer, Colin Teevan, set out to write ahistorical shite, or was it accidental ignorance? Virtually nothing in this second episode bears any resemblance to the facts of the opening day of the revolution, nor do the characterisations of key individuals such as Pearse, Connolly or Kathleen Lynn have any grounding in known and indisputable fact.

Connolly is virtually mute, a mere spectator, despite the fact that he commanded the revolutionary forces in Dublin and was never in his life a passive bystander.

Pearse was a Catholic, but here he is portrayed as an altar-muncher, hurling himself to his knees at any opportunity. Nowhere is there a hint of his intellect, of his advanced ideas on education which was what his school was about. Instead it is a training ground for young ‘rebels’, with a bomb factory in the basement. Pearse was anything but one-dimensional, but that is how he is portrayed.

Lynn, a medical doctor, was the one who attended Sean Connolly, the Commandant of the City Hall Garrison, on the roof of City Hall when he was shot within a couple of minutes of the buildings occupation by the Citizen Army. He died virtually instantly. He certainly didn’t have any conversations before doing so.

The revolution was, according to Teevan, a Catholic enterprise, complete with the Archbishop’s representative in the GPO doling out absolutions and leading rosaries. Let’s lump Kathleen Lynn in there, and Constance Markievicz, both Protestants – and they were not by a long shot the only Protestant revolutionaries. Let’s forget about the explicitly anti-sectarian ideal contained in the Proclamation, or the guarantee of religious liberty.

Teevan has a Volunteer and a Cumann na mBan woman roaming the streets shooting at looters. That is a lie, plain and simple.

There has been no attempt so far to explain the motivations behind the revolution apart from the need to break the link with the coloniser. Without those motivations being referred to the revolution is just an amateurish enterprise inspired by nationalistic grievance. A brief conversation between Connolly and Tom Clarke (absent) or Sean MacDiarmada (absent), or even Pearse, who is at least present if only as a caricature, would in a couple of minutes of dramatic screen-time inform the audience as to why those with the most to lose – workers and their families and the lower middle class – would be prepared to wager their lives for a revolution, for what was at stake.

The Dublin Castle man fucks a young Irish woman and makes her pregnant, and she loves him – what a crass metaphor to use for the relationship between the British administration in the Castle and the colonised nation.

Does any of this matter? Did the works of the various revisionist historians, most of them politically motivated, matter? Of course, since skewing the narrative to fit a political imperative as the political class sees it creates an ahistorical account, the story of what didn’t happen, or of the motivations that weren’t present, or of the character defects that weren’t there. Portray the revolutionaries as blood-lust Catholics engaged in a crazy enterprise, and that is all the public need to know. Portray the Castle Catholics as refined Downton Abbey types, show the children of the tenements as chubby-faced shoe-wearing healthy kids, and who in their right mind would want a revolution?

Move on to next item on the agenda, in this great little country in which to do business.

This is dreadful stuff, which will be watched by several hundred thousand citizens, many of whom, due to our poxy education system with history relegated to the margins, know so little about the true story as to be easily influenced into believing this shite.

So, I am past quibbling. I am now in the business of ousting this rotten political class which manipulates public opinion in order to maintain power.

And have no doubt about it – this series from RTE is not about representing 1916 fairly, it is about manipulating public opinion.

Eoghan Harris lives on in RTE.


The tyranny of ‘expert’ opinion

Closing his ‘Tonight’ programme on TV3 on the 24th of May, Vincent Browne made an extraordinary statement, almost revolutionary. He announced that he was looking to move  from the practice of having only ‘expert’ people on the ‘Tonight’ panels and, in the interest of having a democratic balance of views and opinions, asked for recommendations from the general public of suitable people who could contribute to his programme, to be drawn from across the social classes and not exclusively from the professional/business class as is the norm. What an idea!

Browne’s statement is extraordinary not only because what seems on the face of it to be a fair and democratic and correct approach has never been the practice in broadcasting in Ireland, but also because TV3 is a commercial TV station with a mandatory but limited public service broadcasting requirement. What Browne is proposing might more readily be expected to originate in RTE, the ‘national’ broadcaster, with its much more extensive public service broadcasting requirement and a significant proportion of its revenues provided by way of licence fee, paid in the main by the ‘great unwashed’ whose voices are excluded other than in shallow radio phone-in programmes, heavily moderated.

Blinded by ‘experts’, we are led up the garden path, lectured on what is ‘common sense’ and what should be dismissed as ‘looney’. These ‘experts’ are presented to us as people who ‘know’, who have the ‘truth’, whose opinions are not just worth hearing but worth internalising so that they become our opinions.

The ‘experts’ are, we are often informed, eminent or distinguished or foremost in their field. Some may be, but what does that mean? It may be that the lawyer knows a fair bit about contract law, or licencing law, or constitutional law, or criminal law, but not usually all of these legal areas and more. It may be that the surgeon is indeed an expert in neuro-surgery, or cardio-vascular conditions, or plastic-surgery, but not usually all of these and more. It may be that the academic has forged a successful career in the area of sociology, or economics, or science, or literature, but not all of these and more. It may be that the entrepreneur has made a fortune selling cups of coffee, or building houses, or making plastic ‘things’, but what does that show other than an ability to spot a chance, get organised and make some money?

‘Experts’ usually have a very limited area of expertise. They are not all-seeing, all-dancing fonts of wisdom. In fact, the very closed world that they usually inhabit within their particular area of expertise may close off ways of seeing and ways of thinking about a wide range of personal, local, national and global issues about which they are supposed to have opinions that we are led to believe are worth paying attention to. On these radio and TV panels, surgeons, lawyers, academics, politicians and ‘personalities’ will insist that their thoughts on economics, or politics, or the media, or war, or US foreign policy, or the EU policy on immigration, or the banking crisis are so well-informed and well-thought-out as to be suitable for serious consideration by the population at large. What arrant  nonsense!

On the other hand there are those who did not gain a reputation or access to membership of the political class by acquiring a degree or a PhD in a limited field, or by ‘networking’ successfully, but who left formal ‘education’ early and then educated themselves by keeping their eyes and ears and intellects open, by reading and discussing, by being aware of the natural, social and political worlds, by dissecting and assimilating ideas.

One such man was my father. Having left school at 13 through economic necessity, like so many others had to, he became a sheet metal worker, then a panel beater and later a garage owner. An inveterate reader, he was also a very fine writer, good enough to be offered a position as a correspondent in the 1960s by the Evening Press newspaper. He had a superb knowledge of history – Irish, European and World, and of current affairs, again spanning the globe. His analyses of various issues and their likely outcomes including Ireland’s membership of the EEC/EU, the conflict in the Six Counties, US foreign policy especially in the Middle East, and the economic rise of the East and of South America have been, or are being, borne out. He had an intimate knowledge of the natural world, from the sky at night to the earth below. Long before it was fashionable he was an environmentalist, and again before it was fashionable went against type by championing the cause of indigenous people from the Native Americans to the Australian Aborigines, and all points between.

So highly regarded were his views and opinions that on Saturdays at his garage in Dublin he would be visited by a stream of regular customers, including many  regarded as eminent in their professions, there not just to get petrol in their cars but to hear his views and to exchange ideas. One of the highest-ranking solicitors in the land would spend up to an hour every Saturday talking with him, and listening. But Pearse Stokes would not qualify for inclusion on any RTE discussion panel – then or now.

That is why Vincent Browne is not only right but intelligent in his new approach to the formation of panels for his ‘Tonight’ programme. At a moment in our history that we would prefer not to have visited – brought here by the ineptitude and stupidity and greed of so many in the political class, including some of the media ‘darlings’ – it is time to open out to a wider range of views and opinions by listening to articulate and intelligent and well-informed contributors from previously excluded social class groups.

By adopting this new approach, Vincent Browne and TV3 will enhance the Public Sphere, that area in social life in which public opinion is formed. It should make for more interesting television too – an escape from the incestuous ‘same old, same old’ discussion panels.

And what will it do to RTE – the broadcasting arm of the State and of the political class? Let’s hope it will give them cause for concern. They have had it their own way for far too long, at our expence. Come on Vincent Browne and TV3, show the Donnybrook set how proper current affairs broadcasting should be done – and  can be done.


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