On the anathema of overbearing political consensus…

Our friend in the north was not impressed with last week’s Let’s Talk and reckons it raises questions about the premise on which regional programmes are made. The problem is not the BBC’s per se:

…do not look upon it as merely a case of bad TV. BBC Northern Ireland is only reflecting what is going on in the local political arena. Outside of the studio sectarian differences and policy disagreements are, along with questionable finances, getting swept under the carpet in a province where debate and opposition are being sacrificed in exchange for an endless list of ‘historic moments’ and quaint photoshoots featuring sniggering old enemies to which we will all try our best to be excited and proclaim that we could never have imagined it happening a few years back. In this climate few in the media, politics or society in general want to appear to be the spoilsports. The aim of everyone is to steer away from discord.

Enter Malachi O’Doherty’s “sleepwalking into quiet censorship”


  • Rory

    Our Friend may not consider Mark Carruthers as thrusting as Jeremy Paxman in his interrogation of the Let’s Talk panel but he cannot be any less anodyne than David Dimbelby (for it is he not the Y-front challenged heart-throb who is in fact the chairman of Question Time).

    It is probably true that the purpose of Let’s Talk is to close down debate rather than sharpen it but if that is the case then it is merely applying to the local scene the same prescription and the same service of lavender scented gagging that Question Time provides the rest of us mugs acroos the UK.

  • Rory

    Across the UK”, of course. Apologies.

  • An Lochlannach

    Some perspective – Hearts and Minds and Spotlight are regional programmes that could be held up as examples to journalists everywhere and that haven’t given a blank cheque to the main players in the Peace Process. I remember a few years ago seeing two interviews with Dr. Paisley in the space of a few days – one was a soft-focus love-in between big cuddly Ian and Miriam O’Callaghan of RTE. The other was a real grilling from Noel Thompson. Tim Pat Coogan referred to the same interviews at a book launch I attended that week. He said that the two interviews should be compuslary viewing on media studies courses -one of them challenging and the other an abject surrender.

    By the way – I have no grá for the BBC as an institution and I feel no need to defend the indefensible (Stephen Nolan).

  • slug

    Henry Kelly was dreadful.

  • marty

    There’s only one show worse than Let’s Talk, and that is Question Time from NI.

    At least with Let’s Talk we don’t have the rest of the UK watching our inability to talk about anything other than our local squabble. And that includes the audience – anyone remember the last show? McGuinness get’s asked a question about Putin’s Russia and some balloon in the audience managed to bring the subject back to the IRA.

  • Llamedos

    The panel on lets talk was mediocre Henry Kelly did not even to show the audience respect he stole the fee where has he been for the past 25 years.Dimbleby usually has a higher calibre of guest yet tonight’s rendition from Stirling was poor.George Galloway’s prescence is an insult to our intelligence he has absolutely no significant following.

  • aquifer

    “overbearing political consensus”

    Having IPJ walk the plank with the media’s sword of truth in his back lessened the burden for me.

    The big politicos will always play for a draw. The media need to get the second rankers into the studio to address the real issues and to fight one another for the big prizes.

  • Danny O’Connor

    As someone with a fair understanding of NI politics I believe most presenters are given a short brief,the politician can give the answer that they want with the result that the people never get to hear a straight answer most of the time,eg- that is a good question but I think we need to ask ourselves …..
    I’ll come to that in a moment but first ……
    and after a monologue the presenter says I’m sorry we’ll have to leave it there .
    Why dont they interrupt and say no actually I want you to answer the question,and if they dont and continue to waffle, terminate the interview ,rather than allow it to become a party political broadcast.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    That link to yourfriendinthenorth was one of the best blog posts I’ve read in a long time!