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

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 commissioning and so a guy who has the power to shape popular taste. Don’t know him at all but he sounds as edgy as some of the stuff he commissioned. Shane has joined a tiny elite who cruise round the TV channels as producers, commissioners and back to production again in a world that’s becoming more global and big business orientated.  His last billet was Channel 4 where it seems his edginess wasn’t always appreciated.

  It was Shane’s last chance to be ‘a bit C4’ and to go too far – because that is what C4 is there for. He also did a lot of sincere stuff about how he grew up in Belfast and C4 was a beacon into the world.”

Cosgrove has also tasked Allen with growing Northern Ireland’s share of the pot and building on two Comedy Labs won by Belfast indie Green Inc in recent years.

In this interview with the Guardian today he emerges as the champion of Mrs Brown’s Boys which seems to me as original as used toilet paper – but boy, is it  box office. As Shane says:

“It was a game-changer. I think sometimes people in TV land make TV for people in TV land, and Mrs Brown’s Boys is a perfect example of how to serve an audience.”

It’s a basic rule of the people who commission the commissioners to allow commissions through that they may not like themselves and give the likes of Shane their head. They’ll note his careful obeisance to tradition and enjoy his cheek for as long as he delivers.  He may not feel any great loyalty to the BBC as an institution, a quality that’s now material for nostalgia programming like the farewells to BBC Television Centre on BBC 4 last week.      

How has Shane ‘s background as a BRA lad shaped  him?   I can find only this reference which implies that Channel 4 was a  window out of our small world. No surprises there. He sounds talented, obsessive and not exactly highbrow.  Does anyone know more about Shane Allen?

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  • BarneyT

    What can I say about Mrs Browns boys. Sometimes it is painful but largely it is refreshing not just for the live format. For GB it prepresents danger, which they like, particularly when it is delivered to them from afar. When Billy Connolly emerged his profanity became acceptable as it could be received without being owned south of the border.

    The cursing and crudity make it successful. Its similar to the “Feck off” factor in Father Ted”. They now have the real thing, this time from the mouth of the “mother” figure, which is shocking and new….certainly for over the water.

    If he is responsible for Mrs Browns boys then fair play. It could have gone horribly wrong

  • Granni Trixie

    I so hate Mrs Briwns Boys. Will someone explain how it’s funny.

  • Professor Yattle

    I’m afraid I can’t see this thread as anything other a passive-aggressive howl of impotent rage. The sneaky spite dripping from the introduction is incredible. Jealous much?

  • BarneyT

    Its slapstick and some of the Larry Graysonesque looks to camera are very old style…..but take all that predictable “carry on” and combine it with the innuendo and raw effin’ and blinding, and you get an interesting recipe.

    I warmed to it after a while but then again I don’t need each and every line in any show to enthral or excite. It’s a good laugh and successful in England for the reasons I posted earlier.

  • dnotice

    I worked with Shane Allen at C4. What can I say; very much a classic Puer Aeternus character. Joker; Janus; Jester; Jay hater. Crasher of boundaries; prone to a puerile sense of humour etc. Just the classic TV industry executive; albeit Catholic boy educated at a mostly Protestant Belfast Grammar School. What more can I say……..