Thursday 23 November 2017

YET another sorry year for the IFTAS

this year the irish film and tv awards would be lost without love/hate, writes pat stacey

If it's January then that means the awards season is upon us again -- or rather upon them, the glittering celebrities who will be sashaying along various red carpets in their finest finery in the weeks to come.

First up are tomorrow's Golden Globes, highlights of which you can see on RTE on Monday, while Sunday, February 26 sees the daddy of all gong shows, the 2012 Academy Awards. With Billy Crystal returning as host, it might actually make for entertaining television for a change.

But between these prestigious events falls the most important date in the Irish showbiz calendar; a night when the great and the good of the arts and entertainment communities come out in force, along with an unhealthy smattering of small-C celebrity plankton that would turn up at the opening of someone's bowels, provided a few photographers were present.

I speak, of course, of the annual Irish Film & Television Awards. I love the IFTAs. I admire the mixture of ingenuity and brass neck that goes into choosing the contenders. Not since the days when Tony Cascarino played in Jack Charlton's team has anyone defined the term "Irish" in so loose a fashion.

It has always been a struggle to make up the nomination numbers at the IFTAs, but the bend-over-backwards gymnastics involved this year are worthy of Olga Korbut at her peak.


Game of Thrones, for instance, seems to have qualified in the Best Drama category because some of it was shot in Northern Ireland, despite being produced by US cable channel HBO. It also garners a Best Director nomination for the Armagh-born Brian Kirk.

Since we don't produce enough TV drama in this country to fill four nominations per category, it seems to be a case of rounding up any Irish/Northern Irish actor/actress who has appeared on television in anything, anywhere in the past year.

Chris O'Dowd gets a Best Lead Actor nod for his role in The Crimson Petal and the White, a series that couldn't be more British if the rest of the cast was made up of bulldogs dressed in Union Jack waistcoats.

There are also Best Supporting Actress nods for Bronagh Gallagher, who appeared in the ridiculous BBC Scotland thriller Field of Blood, and Eva Birthistle, who popped up in Sky 1's macho action-adventure series Strike Back.

I'm surprised the people behind the IFTAs didn't trawl the books of the Danish actors' union looking for someone from the cast of The Killing with Irish great-great-great grandparents -- although that might be an option next year.

Thank goodness for the Love/Hate pair of Aidan Gillen and Robert Sheehan, who are nominated not just for their work on that series, but also in additional categories for Game of Thrones and Misfits.

Ruth Negga is not nominated for Love/Hate, but she does bag two nods for Shirley (BBC4) and Misfits (C4). In fact, without Love/Hate, which is justifiably nominated in a wide range of categories, we might not have any IFTAs at all this year, which would be embarrassing. But probably not as embarrassing as actually having them.

>tough talk The thoughts of attention sponge Amanda Brunker would usually be of as much interest to me as Sinead O'Connor's marital arrangements.

Nonetheless, we feel obliged to relay Amanda's comments in last Saturday's Herald. While wishing everyone involved in The Voice of Ireland well, Amanda found time to have a dig at RTE for failing to give The All-Ireland Talent Show the support she believes it deserved.

"We got shag-all promo, not even an RTE Guide cover," complained the woman who has had more covers than Westlife. "The Voice of Ireland has had blanket coverage. Billboards, radio ads and even the sides of buses are plastered."

While many might regret that Amanda and her fellow AITS judges were never plastered all over a bus, it's nice to see she's added another string to her multi-tasking bow: a mastery of the ancient Irish art of begrudgery.

>master's voice Talking to the telly is nothing new, but now you can buy a TV that listens to what you're saying. A Korean electronics firm has developed a "super interaction" set that responds to voice commands. It also has motion-control, so you can adjust the volume with a wave of your hand. I think I'll hold off buying until they invent a TV that changes channel when I stick two fingers up at Jeremy Clarkson.

>ratings wizard Craig Doyle appears to be coated in a Teflon-like skin that repels dismal ratings. His RTE2 vehicle The Social attracted just 99,000 viewers -- 67,000 fewer than repeats of Father Ted -- yet a second series has been commissioned. Doyle said the first batch was merely "a dry run". Sorry, but 99,000 viewers isn't a dry run, it's dehydration.

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