The power of Nolan – too much of a good thing?

It was interesting to see that there was as much comment on Nolan personally as about Pastor McConnell. I don’t see or hear Nolan that often but I thought he played a pretty straight bat on this one. I’m told he divides an already divided community, not on sectarian lines but between pro- and anti- Nolan. That’s quite a tribute. I bet opinion swings quite a bit just like a Nolan interview. With Nolan we’re on a rollercoaster. Whether you …

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Eurovision 2014: “I felt like tonight Europe showed that we are a community of respect and tolerance…”

Well, perhaps…  A bearded Austrian man in a dress, Conchita Wurst, won the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen on Saturday night with “Rise Like a Phoenix” – the title quote was his line from the winner’s press conference.  The 25-year-old singer also told reporters in Vienna On the theme of tolerance, Wurst told reporters in the Austrian capital: “This will remain an issue for a long time and I fear I won’t see the end of it in my lifetime. It …

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BBC’s differential responses to racism: Jeremy Clarkson vs David Starkey

Jeremy Clarkson has never been a stranger to controversy. In his latest problem the Daily Mirror obtained film (not broadcast on the BBC) of him reciting the Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe rhyme and including the ‘n’ word albeit muttered and only semi audible. Initially the Clarkson denied using the word but as now issued an apology and has claimed that the BBC has given him a final warning. The BBC has made a statement: “Jeremy Clarkson has set out the …

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Proposal to decriminalise TV licence fee avoidance

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 is not paid it can even result in gaol (107 people were sent to gaol between 2011 and 2013). A cross party group of MPs has …

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Jimmy Ellis RIP

  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  attempts to tone down  the anti sectarian message of the play. From Z Cars on the BBC TV of the early 1960s, the first police drama …

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

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 can hear Eileen laughing off-screen as he jokes about “getting a cane” if any of the Paisley children had come with a Catholic boyfriend/girlfriend. Clips of …

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Cartoon – #Paisleydoc

Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Paisley: Genesis to Revelation (Old Testament)

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 there are many gaps in the timeline that some viewers might have wanted to explore. Expect a book to mop up the rest! There was little …

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

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 couple of lines from the minister’s press release [NI Culture Minister, Sinn Fein’s Carál Ní Chuilín] “I am considering options such as appointing a panel of experts …

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John Cole, a personal view

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 extraordinary memoir. John hadn’t really reported on Northern Ireland affairs for  forty years but he always kept up the old connection, through family, social contacts and …

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

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 McKevitt (SDLP) will be the only business before adjournment. Call for an Inquiry into Allegations of Wrongful Political Interference in the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Potential …

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

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 largest), the numbers of Orangemen and women marching in each lodge is thinning out, often marching two abreast where once eight would have walked, and nowadays …

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UK City of Culture rocks for Radio 1 Big Weekend

  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 reform; that explains it ). That said  the event  won me over. It  looks great, terrifically well staged, well filmed, good sound and really charged  on video stream. …

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

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 party’s MLA John O’Dowd and Goodies below ‘DUP’ for the parties Ian Paisley Junior. Needless to say Sinn Féin are unimpressed: “The ‘SF/IRA’ tag was one created …

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Drama shows best how much Northern Ireland has changed

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  “British” in” BBC” expresses more of an issue than it does in today’s Northern Ireland.  However I think he gets “The Fall” slightly wrong, although the headline …

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Why is the BBC ghettoising NI regional outputs?

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 also on iPlayer, which is the reason I know about them at all as I often skim the ‘factual’ strand, I didn’t find them because they …

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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 …

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

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 it happened. Yes, chaos and “faffing about” are revealed in the transcripts. Some of the faffing is about concealing full candour which Pollard for all its …

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

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 up  today. It was a stellar achievement  to produce such a magisterial work on  a hot topic at the time, when  so many critics were waiting to pounce …

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

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 even put up a headline with the “aristocratic “ tag which  with a bit of searching you can still find. It’s all very well for the …

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