Thursday 21 March 2019

Anna Nolan: Jennifer Maguire, you're so much better than this dating show

Remember when Davina McCall presented the dating show Street Mate? It was television gold. We saw a brilliant presenter who had a natural connection with everyday people.

It was a simple concept in which Davina would grab someone on the street. If they were single, they grabbed someone else that the single person fancied, and the couple went on a date. It was upbeat, sweet and positive.

When a dating show works, it is super television. TV3's Take Me Out has tapped into the idea that romance is the best distraction from recession blues.

On the other hand, while RTE's One Night Stand should have had the same result, it lacks something. The fact that Take Me Out is a studio show gives it a licence to be fluffy, contrived and a bit razzamatazz.

Just like Blind Date from bygone years, there was no need to get to the heart of people. It was made in front of a studio audience, and therefore that audience had to be entertained with quick one-liners and snappy gags.

Outside broadcasts have more time to let things breathe. There is more time to get to know the romancer, and that should come across.

With Street Mate and also with the wonderful Ex Files with Lucy Kennedy, the trick was to make the audience feel they knew the dating hopeful, and so could relate to them. The key to dating shows filmed out and about is that as a viewer you think: "I know exactly how they feel."

There is nothing wrong with Jennifer Maguire as host. In fact there is a lot right with Jennifer Maguire. She is a presenter who has that rare quality -- she's brazen but not offensive. She could tell a rude joke to the Pope without blushing and she could subtly offend you without you even knowing it. She is very talented, especially on Republic of Telly.

One Night Stand could have been the one show that made us all feel like romance is alive and well. As the song goes, All You Need Is Love". But we will have to wait a little longer before someone perfects a dating show that lives up to the success of those from past years.

I feel for Mary Byrne: I know what it's like to feel like the prisoner of TV show producers

The week before I went into the Big Brother house, I was given a contract from the producers to sign. If I didn't sign it, I wasn't going in.

It was a big, thick document. I flicked through it and decided to take it to a friend of mine who was a lawyer. She had one look at it, put it down on the table and said, "They own you".


From the day I walked into the house, to some weeks after the show, I was under their control. I had to be where they wanted me to be, I had to turn up to book signings, press conferences, launches and other Big Brother-related events.

When I asked my lawyer if I could get out of these events, she said not to even try it. I would be sued to kingdom come. Mary Byrne is obviously feeling the constraints of another massive reality show -- the X Factor.

We have been hearing how unhappy she is with her living arrangements and also with the lack of freedom she has.

We have seen how she has been struggling over the last few weeks, and unfortunately she doesn't seem to be getting the sympathy she deserves.

I heard a story the other day that broke my heart.

Mary had told the producers of the X Factor that she didn't want them filming in her house until she'd had it painted. They had wanted to send a crew to her home in Ballyfermot, to film her family.

Mary, being the house-proud woman she is, asked them for a couple of days leeway until her home was looking its absolute best. They refused and sent in the crew anyway.

The pressure Mary is feeling is not simply about the song that is chosen and how she sings it. That is, in fact, the least of her worries. Once she is on stage, she can forget all the other worries -- living in a house with teenage brats, not being able to see her daughter, living in another country with an animal of a production controlling every element of her life.

It might be a fairy tale existence for the younger ones in X Factor, but give the woman a break -- she is at the hands of producers whose only concern is to make good television.

If someone on the show is having a meltdown, or is creating news because they are thinking of quitting -- they have done their job.


The more drama that a contestant creates -- whether it is Katie saying the booing gets her down, or Mary saying she is desperately unhappy and needs to see her daughter, there are 10 execs high-fiving each other, thrilled with the sadness.

Mary is probably coming to terms with the fact that what is going on outside X Factor means diddlysquat to those at the top.

She needs to get on with the singing and count down the days to when she is released from the prison that is X Factor.

This Gladult can't wait for a Heather Morris fix

GLEE is coming to Ireland. Dear Sweet Holy Mother of Divine Intervention.

The squeal that went around the office when we heard the news that the live show was making its way here -- it was as if we had been told that we had won a million euro each.

"Has anyone got a child we can hire for the evening so we can all go?" was one response. Another colleague thought we might have to pretend that we don't watch the show on our own.

But, as I replied, we need no children, no excuse, no shame. Bring on Heather Morris (pictured), we're Gladults and we're proud!

My idea for a William and Kate-style boost

WHAT a clever move to have the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on the horizon.

As much as we might think it's no big deal, it's like a rainbow over the UK for those who live there.

What could we have here that would have the same effect? A sporting success in the World Cup or European Cup, a win at the Eurovision?

Hey, I know -- a new political party running the country!

What bigger treat could there be? Looks like we could be sorted there.

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