An Irish Borgen?

Dyspeptic Scots columnist Kevin McKenna (now where did that name come from?) is  so right when he says Scottish politics are too boring to mount a drama like Borgen. But then, Alex might reply that Scotland is not an independent country – yet. Staying glued to Borgen though fits perfectly into Scottish culture.

Manfully, I’ve been trying to lower the life expectancy of Borgen fans by preparing for the Saturday night fix thus: watching Soccer AM; grabbing a few Bacardis; smoking like a research monkey and jumping into a taxi for Celtic Park. Sometimes, when I’ve missed the football by choosing to tarry in the pub, I discover that I don’t need the English subtitles at all and can understand perfectly what lovely Birgitte is saying in her native Danish.

BBC Scotland must surely now commission an edgy political drama. As a salute to Edinburgh men’s fondness for woolly foundation garments it must be called The Vest Wing.

Shades of the scum philosopher  Rab C Nesbitt?  Now that was a triumph of Scottish creation even though the southern British understood it less than Danish.

What about an Irish Borgen featuring a reincarnated Mary Robinson/ Mc Aleese and a revived Charlie and the men in mohair suits holed up and hiding from the Revenue in their gated communities in the Costa del Crime?

Borgen ‘s attraction must be great for  small states dreaming of strutting their stuff on the world stage and showing that their politics can be as sexy as anything in the Elysee or the White House. ( I leave aside the North where politics and sex are too far-fetched for fiction). But blogger Jason O’Mahoney puts his finger on the problem for an Irish version.

Watching it made me wonder about how RTE could do such a show. It is not an impossible proposition, but there would be considerable barriers against it. The biggest single one I feel would be the tendency of Irish dramatists to always paint powerful people as inherently corrupt or evil. I’m not sure I would want to watch a show like that, about a crowd of bastards being bastards.

That means that such a show would instead have to be about good leaders doing good things, which would mean a show that actually debated real politics and real political choices. Would the Irish people watch a show like that?

Rather than “The West Wing”, would an Irish political drama not focus instead on some crowd of victims being f**ked over by some powerful bloke in a Louis Copeland suit.

If only life and politics were like that, problems solved or lovers deftly ditched in 5 minute takes, ending in hej, hej or the West Wing’s ok, ok

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London