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Carr might be better off staying in the C4 slow lane

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: {J}

The search is on for the new Jonathan Ross even before the old one has been put out to grass – or Sky to give it its correct title. And so far it seems that the one thing all of possible successors share is that they are gay comedians.

Nothing wrong with that of course, but shouldn’t the BBC consider widening the market, so to speak? Must it be that a predilection for double entendres is the one characteristic the new Ross will share with the old one?

God help us all if it’s Graham Norton, a man who makes Carry On movies look like Cecil B de Mille productions; he should have his microphone tucked up his sleeve so that way we could hear him laughing at his own risqué humour.

If the new Wossie is to be a gay comedian, then Norton can only hope that a bolt of lightning strikes Alan Carr – because the Chatty Man is showing that there is a way to live on the edge without making it seem like Rag Week forever.

Then again he may not want to be seen as auditioning for Jonathan’s swivel chair, because his Channel 4 series is already streets ahead of Ross.

It’s like Ross was before he began to believe all of his own publicity; Carr is funny, disarming and bold as brass.

Who else would get away with asking Lindsay Lohan, a woman famous for two things – her love life and turning up at parties – whether she was straight or gay in the immortal words ‘Are you Arthur or are you Martha now?’

Even Lohan, a notoriously difficult guest, couldn’t hold back the laughter – and when she refused to answer, he pressed her further and further … but in a way that only he could manage.

Or on her drink driving difficulties: “You got caught got drink driving twice and you were in jail for 84 minutes – was it like a drive thru?”

Of course she didn’t respond to either topic in the end, but neither did she storm off the couch. Because even Lindsay knows Carr is the coming star and his Channel 4 show is the hottest gig in town.

It’s not that the producers normally spend a lot of money on high profile guests – the rest of last week’s line-up included comedian Frankie Boyle and ice legends Torville and Dean – but it’s the way that Carr takes them into areas where they’d never intended to go.

And because he’s like a naughty child, he asks the most outrageous of questions without a backlash; as in to Torvill and Dean: “you’ve described your partnership as like a marriage without sex – but how close have you come?”

A few weeks back he asked Sid Owen and Patsy Palmer – Eastenders’ Ricky and Bianca – why they’d come back to the soap after leaving it for so long. And he got them to admit that it was simply about money.

Ross used to be like this in the good old days before it became so formulaic. Some suggest this happened because he’d overstepped the mark once too often, which meant the show had to be recorded and therefore lost its spontaneity. Chatty Man is recorded too but it doesn’t seem any less lively because of that.

Ross, Norton and Carr were all given their chance by Channel 4 where the relative backwaters offer more freedom of expression.

Ross has now run his course, although no doubt he’ll get an even bigger contract to join Sky where no one will ever see him again; Norton also got a big deal to go to the BBC where he is floundering.

 

So Alan Carr should think long and hard before stepping into the Ross hot seat – although in the end money talks and the Beeb has a lot more of it than Channel 4 can ever hope to.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit

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A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?

Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.

But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.

While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.

So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.

It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.

Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.

While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.

It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.

But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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