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Pat Stacey: New year, same old RTE... it's a raw deal

Farewell 2012. I'd like to say it's been nice knowing you, except it hasn't really. Luckily, television provided some memorable moments to lessen the misery, the best of which emanated from the world of sport. Katie Taylor's glorious gold at the sparkling London Olympics lifted the spirit of a battered populace, as did the brilliant achievements of the Irish boxing team as a whole.

For genuine football lovers, Euro 2012 threw up plenty of thrilling encounters. Alas, none of them involved Ireland, who finished at the absolute bottom of the pile having lost their three group matches, conceded nine goals and scored only one.

But now it's out with the old and in with the new -- or more accurately, out with the old and in with something alarmingly similar. It's rash, I know, to be taking stock of television barely a week into a fresh year, yet already the schedules are giving off a worrying whiff of familiarity. RTE didn't exactly cover itself in glory with its Christmas or New Year's Eve offerings (more about that elsewhere on this page), so we probably shouldn't be setting the expectation bar too high for the first week in January. Still, though: your heart has a right to sink when you discover that tomorrow night's main attraction on RTE1 is yet another series -- the fifth for those still bothered -- of restaurant drama Raw, starring Charlene McKenna (pictured).


When it first appeared in 2008, initially on RTE2, Raw felt fresh, modern and relevant, and seemed to dovetail perfectly with the zeitgeist. But the regrettably short-lived buzz of those days departed long ago, limping out of town behind the Celtic Tiger and Raw has gradually mutated into a soap opera with about as much edge as Glenroe in its death throes.

The outstanding Love/Hate finished just a week before Christmas, but already it's beginning to feel like a happy accident of timing, talent and ambition, rather than a great innovation by RTE heralding a radically changed approach to drama.

Throw in the return of The Saturday Night Show and At Your Service, plus a repeat of a two-year-old edition of Gay Byrne's For One Night Only featuring Christy Moore and RTE gives every impression of simply picking up where it left off last year.

Over on the British channels, meanwhile, the spirit of period drama that haunted the Sunday night schedules throughout 2012 seems set to do the same in 2013. BBC1's Ripper Street might be a gory thriller, but it comes dressed in the finest 19th-century replica clothes the costume department can afford, while ITV1's new 10-part blockbuster (screened simultaneously on TV3) Mr Selfridge stars Entourage actor Jeremy Piven as the visionary American retailer who built a shopping mecca in London that still thrives today.

But familiarity need not necessarily breed contempt. With the final helping of The Killing barely cold in its grave, BBC4 has swiftly moved to plug the Saturday schedules with series two of gripping Danish political drama Borgen, starring Sidse Babett Knudsen as the prime minister under pressure.

Anyone know the Danish for "Happy New Year"?

YOU JERK, CALLAN "Brutal" is how Today FM's Ray D'Arcy described RTE1's live New Year's Eve show. That's as good a word as any to describe what was, the brilliant Imelda May apart, a dreary gabfest between Miriam O'Callaghan and a procession of tediously familiar faces.

It was so ineptly put together it frequently looked like an episode of her Saturday night chat show, broadcast from an inadequately soundproofed garden shed.

Given RTE's past form with New Year's Eve shows, the dreariness was hardly a surprise. What nobody expected, however, was the appalling Oliver Callan's impression of Katie Taylor.

It was cruel, tasteless, hurtful, unfair and -- like most of Callan's work -- horrendously unfunny, and it mocked Taylor's religious beliefs into the bargain.

I don't believe in God but I do believe in a person's right to believe whatever they want, provided it does no harm to others, without being ridiculed by a jerk who can't even write a decent joke to prop up his tedious mimicry.

domino principle The obnoxious Jim Davidson this week had to pull out of Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5 after joining Freddie Starr, Dave Lee Travis and the pervert Gary Glitter as the latest Seventies throwback to be arrested and questioned by the Met as part of the Yewtree investigation into sexual abuse allegations.

I'm reminded of a joke I heard over Christmas: A man in a Domino's Pizza restaurant bumps into a member of staff, who falls over. Then another one falls, then another one falls, then another one falls . . .

pat's regrets The inaugural 'If I'd Known Then What I Know Now' award -- which I've just this minute created -- goes to Pat Kenny. Speaking to the Irish Independent about how he can't afford to retire at 65 because the bottom has fallen out of his investments, he said he regretted not taking up offers to work in Britain after he hosted the Eurovision in 1988.

"I've a small regret that I didn't build a two-pronged career over there," he said. Indeed. I mean, it's not like he was earning a fortune at RTE, is it? Oh, wait . . .