Picks of the Week – First Communions, Protestant Gaels, Squaddies and Stuckness

There’s a lot of highfalutin political goings on at the moment. But what are the ordinary humans talking about? Here are some media magpie treasures from the last week… RTÉ Documentary on One rebroadcast the gorgeous 2014 doc, Mairead’s First Communion. It follows two culturally Catholic, but non-religious, parents’ experience of their daughter’s First Communion. They didn’t like the idea of her doing it, but 8 year old Mairead really wanted to, so they let her. There’s so much to … Read more

You know things are bad when Stacey Dooley comes to town…

You get the feeling they must be tripping over camera crews in loyalist areas. The recent DUP/Conservative deal has turned the eyes of the UK media towards Northern Ireland. A steady stream of film crews has been making the trip recently. You know the format by now: lots of footage of explosions, the obligatory standing in front of a peace wall, marveling at bonfires, the arty shot at the end as flames leap into the sky. The latest documentary is … Read more

The limited case for Kevin

The Irish Times for which he once wrote and even more significantly the Jewish Council of Ireland have mounted a limited  defence of  Kevin Myers. As I labelled him a disgrace for the bonkers claim that two BBC presenters won bigger contracts because they were Jewish, I’m very happy to carry here the case for Kevin warts and all, such as it can be made. There is indeed more to him than this but it’s a pretty  unsightly wart. The … Read more

Nolan: A Public Service Broadcaster?

Yesterday, on Twitter, the trending hashtag was #BBCPay. Today it’s #BBCPaygap. The big story, yesterday, as far as I was concerned, was the squandering of licence-payer money. The paygap was a secondary story. Important, yes, but not the main story.  The BBC thought otherwise and drove the agenda in its chosen direction. The only Northern Irish broadcaster in the Top “Talent” pay-list published yesterday was Stephen Nolan. He earns over £400,000 a year for hosting his BBC Radio Ulster radio … Read more

Stephen Nolan earning nearly half a million a year

The BBC has released salary details of presenters and stars earning more than 150K. As expected Stephen Nolan is the highest locally paid presenter earning a salary of between £400,000 and £449,999 a year. Nolan is famously a workaholic: The Belfast-born broadcaster presents a number of radio and TV programmes for the BBC. He presents The Nolan Show Monday to Friday on BBC Radio Ulster, a programme on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings for BBC 5 live and Question Time: … Read more

The BBC and Stephen Nolan show again that they are the real opposition…

The Cash for Ash scandal is the biggest financial blunder in the history of Northern Ireland. It has the potential to take down the first minister Arlene Foster. It is a mess of the highest order. The BBC spotlight team did an excellent job with last week’s programme on the affair. It was a forensic dissection of an easily preventable mess. Stephen Nolan then followed up the pressure by devoting the entirety of his show over the past few days … Read more

“I’m trying not to take The Fall personally.”

Guardian TV critic Stuart Heritage with a nail on head review of the “dead dog of a show” that The Fall became.  From the Guardian review Even by most recent standards, The Fall was dire this year. Now that it’s done, and Paul Spector is dead and Stella Gibson is back enigmatically muttering like a woman who lost her keys, it’s hard to fathom why anyone was ever excited about this dreary puddle of a show in the first place. … Read more

The Ultimate Eurovision Song Contest Winner…

With Russia discovering the joys of the politics of the Eurovision Song Contest this year, here’s the undoubted highlight from Saturday’s Grand Final in Stockholm – the interval act!  Just in case anyone from the BBC, or from RTÉ, are looking for any tips for next year.  Let’s face it, on recent form they could do with some.  All together now!  Love, Love, Peace, Peace…   Pete Baker

Terry Wogan made ordinary life special

If there was another Irish broadcaster who forced me to sit in the car park  and make me late for work it was Gay Byrne. Gay had a similar subversive streak and a light touch with a sting in the tail. But he did not  travel so well across the Irish Sea, nor did he aspire to.  Terry Wogan gave comfort  to millions by spreading the  word that  the struggles of daily life are shared far more widely than we … Read more

What would BBC news look like if the rule book was thrown away?

BBC: We’ve come a long way from the days of finding our news from street vendors shouting ‘Sixth Tele’, leaving the Northern Ireland Teletext page running in the corner of the room or waiting for the next Radio Ulster bulletin to find out why a road was closed or a bang was heard echoing across Belfast.

TV review: 20,000 cars sold per year..but was House of Cars a deal or a gamble for Hursts?

After the very first episode of House of Cars – a BBC NI documentary looking at life for the sales force at Charles Hurst Group Boucher Road – over on Twitter Newton Emerson quickly drew a comparison between one sales manager and the Fast Show’s comedy salesman Swiss Toni. And therein lies the problem: on the show the salespeople talk about sales and the managers demand even more sales (or else) while Twitter and Facebook users find reasons to mock … Read more

Why I Left My Job and My Favourite Place in the World

Emma Canavan is a former journalist with BBC Northern Ireland and is currently travelling around the world this is her story from her blog and we wanted to share her story with you. When I was younger, through my teens and university life, I had high expectations of what life has to offer. I wanted to be a journalist and a presenter. I wanted to travel the world, see amazing places, meet amazing people and, somehow, help make the world … Read more

Should the Scottish Parliament and the Assemblies in Cardiff and Belfast control ” their” BBC?

The three wee Celts in the precariously devolved  UK have got together – convened wouldn’t you know it – by the Scots, to agitate for a bigger slice of the BBC licence fee during the coming round of the BBC Charter review. Northern Ireland’s culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin  declares: “The BBC must continue to embrace and further develop its commitment to its public obligations and the occasion of the charter renewal must be seen as an opportunity to deliver … Read more

By 2026 when the next BBC Charter runs out, how do you think the BBC should have changed?

Every five ten years the BBC’s Charter is renewed (though the licence fee can end up being renegotiated more frequently!) and the government of the day along with the broadcaster take the opportunity to examine what direction the BBC is currently heading and decide whether to change the course or trim the sails. One approach is to decide on the purpose and scope of the BBC and then set an appropriate licence fee (or determine an alternative revenue raising method) … Read more

Gavin Robinson: “I don’t think we can leave it for another year … to make sure we manage all of the bonfires in a much better way” … but what can be done?

Six fire engines and 35 fire crew sprayed cold water on houses and trees facing the East Belfast Chobham Street bonfire to keep them safe from the savage heat and flames on the Eleventh night. Speaking to the BBC today, local MP Gavin Robinson said: Elected representatives, community representatives, statutory agencies, the police and those of influence with the community – they were all ignored and I think that’s greatly regrettable. … I don’t think we can leave it for … Read more

Election Notebook (Nick Robinson) – a humble & honest recollection of #ge2015 – and a reminder that NI politics don’t matter at a UK national level

Nick Robinson’s premise was to document the twelve month run up to the May 2015’s General Election. Between the Scottish independence referendum, UKIP’s rise and wobbles, and early polling that couldn’t predict the next government at Westminster, it was sure to be volatile period on which to report. The diary format of Election Notebook: The Inside Story Of The Battle Over Britain’s Future And My Personal Battle To Report It reveals that the BBC’s political editor inhabits an ever-revolving hamster … Read more

Panorama on collusion: Does Trevor Ringland support coverup?

Trevor Ringland’s criticism of Darragh MacIntyre’s Panorama on collusion for rewriting history with a political slant is misguided.  The documentary  gave examples of  a spectrum of collusion ranging from loose handling of informers to covering up agents who were multiple repeat killers, sometimes with the foreknowledge of their  handlers.  Much of the material is in the de Silva report, the published Stevens reports and elsewhere in the public domain. As he hinted in the programme, Denis Bradley was given brief privileged access to … Read more

Panorama’s exposure of greater collusion was a fine effort but it will make no difference

The BBC  are to be commended for visiting “ boring old Northern Ireland “ in a Panorama  special on the legacy issues of collusion, Britain’s Secret Deals, reported by Darragh McIntyre. To those who follow the detail there was little that was entirely new, although there was graphic fresh evidence and it was high time it was presented to the wider audience.  The bizarre detail that the rifle used in the murderous attack on Sean Graham’s bookies ended up in … Read more