Tuesday 23 April 2019

Olympics on RTE is a medal winner

Our national broadcaster beats BBC and shows up NBC's total ineptitude, says Pat Stacey

Thank God for Bill O'Herlihy. And for Darragh Moloney and Peter Collins and Tracy Piggott. Thank God, just this once, even for Marty Morrissey.

Marty was given the job of commentating on the women's beach volleyball. As he gurgled and burbled away over close-up shots of shapely bums in tiny bikini bottoms -- a vital visual aid, I'm sure you'll agree, to understanding this most complex of sports -- you could imagine the eyes in his little ventriloquist-dummy head lighting up like twin Olympic torches.

Lest you think I'm being unnecessarily harsh, let's not forget that this is a man who by his own admission took off like a greyhound in pursuit of an interview with Cindy Crawford when he spotted her at the 2008 Beijing games. Sadly, the supermodel's security men batted poor Marty away like a pesky fly.

So why should we suddenly feel so grateful for Marty at Olympics time, when for the rest of the year we try our level best to pretend that he doesn't exist? Simple; he works for RTE and we're lucky to have RTE during London 2012.


There are plenty of things wrong with our national broadcaster (not the least of them being John Creedon's Cities) but its Olympics coverage has been outstanding.

The BBC might have more channels and more money, but it also has Gary Lineker.

Then again, it could be a lot worse; we could, like our American friends, have no choice but to watch the Olympics on NBC, which has been enduring a storm of criticism over its inept coverage.

Its first offence was to screw up the opening ceremony. Instead of carrying it live, as stations around the world did, it pushed it back to primetime, in order to maximise advertising revenue, and then compounded the insult by editing out large chunks of Danny Boyle's £27m extravaganza.

NBC is also showing many of the events on time-delay. This backfired badly when a clip of American swimmer Missy Franklin winning her gold medal was shown on the Today show -- before NBC had even screened the race.

On top of all that, the network is behaving as if there's only one country competing in London: namely, America. Anything that doesn't feature competitors from the United States is being shunned like a leper in a beauty salon.

None of this would matter a whit here in li'l ol' Ireland but for one small matter; among the sports being doggedly ignored by NBC is women's boxing. So it's conceivable that Katie Taylor, could win gold without most American viewers knowing about it. That would be a shame. I suggest we stick Jimmy Magee in a padded crate and ship him to NBC. That'd learn 'em.

>tramp turn Ian Beale is back in EastEnders. Last seen shuffling down a motorway barefoot and in his pyjamas, having been dumped by bride-to-be Mandy, Ian was this week spotted at a homeless centre.

Sporting six months' worth of wispy, straggly beard -- which Ian has remarkably managed to grow in just six weeks -- he's supposedly been living rough.

Frankly, Ian's new look reminds us of 1970s' children's TV sorcerer Catweazle. It's just a pity he doesn't have Catweazle's magic skills, or else he could make himself and the rest of the Albert Square lot disappear.

>what a choice Blathnaid Ní Chofaigh has revealed "the big TV comeback" (cough!) she's been talking about will be a Sunday-night chatshow called The Choice, featuring "ordinary people who have made hard choices in life". She was at pains to point out that The Choice will be nothing at all like The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne. It sounds like it's going to be much worse.

>ROBBERY ROMANCE ITV is making series Mrs Biggs about Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs and his former wife.

This should go down well with the descendants of rail workers Jack Mills, who was hit so hard over the head during the robbery he suffered constant headaches, and David Whitby, who died at 34, never having fully recovered from the trauma of being beaten and thrown down an embankment. Nice call, ITV!

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