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?