Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Not enough Northern Ireland on TV?

With the nation’s press creating gridlock in the centre of Hillsborough its timing is a bit iffy, but the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster has published a report alleging that the province has been left ‘comparatively invisible’ on the UK’s TV screens. The gist is that programmes about ‘the Troubles’ are plentiful but there is very little which reflects everyday life, the countryside, history or culture.

Northern Ireland is the least ‘well served’ of the UK’s nations in terms of ordinary programmes being commissioned which portray life as it is lived. Yet, oddly, behind London, we have more success than any other region when it comes to getting programmes commissioned abroad.

The BBC has given a commitment to source more of its output around the nations and regions. Northern Ireland should feel the benefit of this. There are good programme makers out there, but the poor quality of many local productions is hardly the best advert for national commissioners.

Would Jackie’s Jaunts tempt a UK wide audience? It is essentially a travel series fronted by football commentator Jackie Fullerton. Actually the travel tag underestimates the show‘s complexity. It is a gentle meditation on age. Or rather that is the idea. Jackie’s treatment of the topic is rather less than profound.

And how about Great Unanswered Questions? It is a vehicle for comedian Colin Murphy, who is so spectacularly unfunny he’ll make you chew the inside of your mouth to a bloody pulp. It amalgamates quirky facts, a la QI, and a “celebrity” (i.e. another comic you’re unlikely to have heard of) nominating things, a la Room 101. And it is jaw droppingly dreadful.

I’m all for more Northern Ireland on national TV, but can we make sure the programmes are watchable?

9 comments:

K D Tennent said...

To be fair, at least NI gets 'local' TV that isn't news/current affairs based. English regions don't any longer, on either BBC or ITV. Broadcasting regions for either broadcaster seem to amount to a series of cost centres rather than any concentration of talent these days. Trouble is, its very difficult to get the talent to move to provincial centres. The decline of regional broadcasting is a little puzzling though, when you consider it should never have been cheaper to make TV programmes technology wise than it is today.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, the quality of a lot of the local output is questionable, but that's not a phenomenon unique to Northern Irish commissions. Have yov seen some of the shite that gets put out nationally?!

MisterDavid said...

One of the main reasons I read this blog is the lack of coverage/discussion of NI stuff nationwide (I live in England, having just moved from Scotland).

The thing that bugs me is that, in the eyes of the London-centric media, Northern Ireland and Belfast are synonymous (as are NI news and the Troubles). I want to see Location Location go to Antrim, Antiques Roadshow in Enniskillen, and Countryfile in Omagh. Not that I ever watch trash like that, obviously.

Chekov said...

MD - I have a strange predilection for Come Dine With Me. I've never yet seen an episode from Belfast though.

K D Tennent said...

I was under the impression that 'roadshow' style programmes went to NI quite a lot. I'm sure I remember an episode of Ground Force in Lurgan...

AJ said...

I happened to catch a few minutes of Jackie Fullerton in Jersey and it was cringeworthy.
Reading the post I wondered if any of the NI series had ever been broadcast on the main BBC or ITVs?

Was there ever a Northern Irish soap opera? (no smart answers) from what I gather these tend to sell well abroad.

David Booth said...

Really sorry to hear you didn't like "Great Unanswered Questions". I'm the science expert on it, and I really don't know what to say other than just give it more than a single episode. We make it on an absolute shoestring budget, but I like to think the amount of love the contributors have for it shines through.

Responding to AJ, the Radio Ulster broadcast of GUQ is one of the very few that has made it across the pond and we will be doing it again later this year on radio four.

JohnB said...

Booth, no wonder the programme is shite, you never were an expert on anything you muppet. 'Amount of love'? Twat.

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