Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


Proposal to decriminalise TV licence fee avoidance

Thu 13 March 2014, 10:56pm

Tweet The BBC is often accused of a liberal bias most recently by the Today programme’s own John Humphrys. Currently the BBC is paid for by the television licence fee, non payment of which can result in a fine of £1000. Up to 10% of magistrates court appearances are for non payment and if this […] more »

Jimmy Ellis RIP

Tue 11 March 2014, 6:15pm

Tweet   Is  it nearly a year  since I joined  James Ellis and a bunch of oldies for a London revival of Sam Thompson’s seminal Belfast play Over the Bridge? That night he was in fine form as he congratulated the cast for their performance and reminisced about his own experience as director  in resisting […] more »

Paisley: Genesis to Revelation (New Testament) – betrayal, hurt and a lack of grace and forgiveness

Tue 21 January 2014, 12:01am
Paisley 9x9

Tweet After last week’s warm-up, the second programme featuring Eamonn Mallie’s extended interviews with Ian Paisley (recorded between October 2012 and March 2013) began with an introduction to Ian Paisley’s strong relationship with his wife Eileen. It went on to cover: The Leeds Castle talks. Tony Blair’s admission that he was converting to Catholicism. You […] more »

Cartoon – #Paisleydoc

Sat 18 January 2014, 12:41pm
Peter Robinson, Brian John Spencer

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Paisley: Genesis to Revelation (Old Testament)

Tue 14 January 2014, 9:56am
still from BBC eamonn mallie ian paisley interview

Tweet Last week’s papers and news bulletins spoiled many of the story lines in last night’s first part of Eamonn Mallie’s conversations with Ian Paisley on BBC One NI. (Available to watch on-demand.) Forty hours of interviews were conducted between October 2012 and March 2013, so we’re only scraping the surface of their discussions and […] more »

“must at the very least include a mechanism that makes the broadcasting companies accountable and answerable to this Assembly…”

Tue 26 November 2013, 4:12pm

Tweet Speaking of making the media accountable…  The Northern Ireland Minister for Culture, Sinn Fein’s Carál Ní Chuilín, has declared that she is “considering options such as appointing a panel of experts to review broadcasting in the North and devolution of responsibility locally with a view to bringing proposals forward for cross-party support”.  Here’s a […] more »

John Cole, a personal view

Fri 8 November 2013, 10:31pm

Tweet I was in Tesco this morning when I saw my friend the Guardian veteran Mike White talking on a  Sky screen with the sound turned down low. I read the captions. John Cole had died. I’d heard John was failing. I’d last met him a couple of years ago at a Lords reception for John Laird’s […] more »

The optics are poor and it looks like “the party comes first” (updated with TUV+DUP amendments & results)

Sun 7 July 2013, 9:47pm
BBC NI Spotlight logo

Tweet On Thursday morning the Social Development committee agreed to hold an inquiry into the issues raised in BBC NI’s Spotlight programme. The recalled Assembly will sit in plenary on Monday at noon. After prayers the Private Members’ Business brought by Mr R Swann (UUP), Ms C Ruane (SF), Mr S Dickson (Alliance), Mrs K […] more »

BBC NI’s “The Twelfth” live coverage in 2012 complied with impartiality guidelines, but questions must remain about how the Twelfth is covered

Sat 8 June 2013, 10:43pm
twelfth parade belfast 4

Tweet The BBC’s live coverage of The Twelfth of July parade through Belfast city centre becomes more anachronistic with every passing year. Last year, a complaint was made to the BBC and later in the post I’ll refer to the finding. While the capital city’s parade remains the longest across Northern Ireland (Armagh is the […] more »

UK City of Culture rocks for Radio 1 Big Weekend

Sat 25 May 2013, 7:09pm

Tweet   I’ve  just been watching the video stream of Day Two of the Radio 1 Big Weekend in Derry for a few hours, on and off. (I fess up. My daughter is an executive producer of the event.  For variety during the cultural initiation I opened up other windows to sound off in Slugger about political […] more »

According to Question Time, SF=IRA, DUP=Goodies

Fri 24 May 2013, 1:43pm

Tweet Great bit of on the spot photojournalism from Simon Whittaker. During the filming of last nights Question Time by Mentorn Media for the BBC, he captured the notes attached to the television camera. It gives affiliations for four of the six panellists with an additional note below two, IRA below ‘Sinn Féin’ for the […] more »

Drama shows best how much Northern Ireland has changed

Wed 15 May 2013, 3:00pm

Tweet The distinguished  Arts commentator Mark Lawson has an interesting blog post in the Guardian pegged to the new BBC2 thriller series “The Fall,” set in Belfast and launched on Monday night.  He uses it to discuss the impact of  “British ” in  the  BBC. He rightly observes the big change, that it’s now  Scotland with its independence  debate where the  […] more »

Why is the BBC ghettoising NI regional outputs?

Fri 29 March 2013, 9:07am

Tweet I almost missed 14 Days, a documentary on one of several traumatic weeks in the history of the Troubles. Paul Canning, who’s based in Cambridge didn’t, and writes an impressively well researched blog asking (amongst several other things), why don’t the BBC mainstream more locally produced work? The ‘BBC NI only’ shows are (or were) all […] more »

Shane Allen, Belfast’s latest TV mogul. Creative power house or an accident waiting to happen?

Mon 25 March 2013, 10:21am

Tweet We always like to  know aboout people from the old place who’ve made it, don’t we?  Shane Allen is one the most influential people who comes from Northern Ireland.  What is he?  A politician on the rise (hah!) A journalist/writer (hah again)? A  business mogul , a poet? Nope.  He’s the BBC’s head  of comedy […] more »

Press comment on the BBC’s Saville crisis is off beam. Pollard transcripts reveal individual errors more than cultural flaws

Sat 23 February 2013, 1:19pm

Tweet Reacting to the transcripts of the Pollard report on the “crisis” within the BBC, where do I start?  Best to sum up and not get bogged down.  For that, go to Steve Hewlett’s video in the Independent. To be fair press comment on Pollard today is fairly mild, perhaps exhausted after covering the affair as […] more »

Robert Kee, hero of journalism and the television history of Irish nationalism

Mon 14 January 2013, 12:13pm

Tweet Slugger should note the passing of Robert Kee, historian, TV and print journalist and RAF  bomber pilot, who has died aged 93. In this age of revisionist debate, his TV history series first shown in 1981 and The Green Flag, the written history of Irish nationalism which accompanied it, were well timed and still stand […] more »

The BBC has no business making a silly unionist dig at Martin McGuinness

Thu 3 January 2013, 12:04pm

Tweet Just a bit of New Year harrumping. I see the Bel Tel  couldn’t resist joining the tease  that  Martin McGuinness  took on an “English aristocratic title” when he had to go through the traditional form of accepting an office of profit under the Crown in order to quit as an abstensionist MP. The BBC website […] more »

Memories of 1982, a strange year

Mon 31 December 2012, 6:49pm

Tweet According to what’s appeared in the papers, the archives of 1982 have produced few surprises.  Perhaps Wally Kirwan’s suggestion of cross border internment put (safely) to Garret FitzGerald comes close but it was never going to happen.  The two governments had allowed themselves to be pushed apart by the 1981 hunger strike and a […] more »

“Heads must roll” is not a quick fix for the BBC or the cabinet

Thu 20 December 2012, 9:31am

Tweet What’s there to trust in public life? A new Hillsborough inquiry into a dreadful police cover up of how 23 died in the same year as Finucane ; UBS in the latest bank scandal over fixing the Libor rate, amid unresolved rows about big banks and bankers’ pay. Off with all their heads? But […] more »

“For the avoidance of doubt…”

Sun 16 December 2012, 11:32pm

Tweet The unsurprising, for many reasons, winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012 may have been this year’s Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, a well-deserved third place went to Olympic and US Open tennis champion, Andy Murray.  But the Guardian’s Paul Owens has spotted something strange about the BBC’s Panel awarding ‘Team of the Year’ to the […] more »

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