Monday 18 December 2017

Anna Nolan: Paul's touching tale of his fight with drink

EVERY now and again, one hears a story that touches the heart. It can come out of the blue and surprise you.

Retired footballer Paul McGrath spoke to Marian Finucane on Saturday morning. The tone of his voice made me stop what I was doing and sit down.

I was ready to turn it off, assuming it would be depressing and would draw on the affection we have for our famous alcoholics.

I was wrong. Paul McGrath's voice was soft, velvety and vulnerable. He was there to tell Marian about his updated biography, and also how his life was going.

He couldn't actually tell her where the signings were for his biography, but she helped him out and told the listeners the times, dates and venues.

You see Paul McGrath cannot stop drinking. He has been in rehab 13 or 14 times, and he is still drinking. He loves drinking, it takes the edge off his day.

This interview was very moving. I know the devastating effect of alcoholism on families. Every day a family member is drinking is a dark, clouded day.

But this man is a very special man. He is like a dignified, lost soul. So many times, alcoholics are arrogant, defensive and angry. As the saying goes, alcoholics are the only people who can look down at you while they are lying in the gutter.

Nicknamed "the Black Pearl of Inchicore", he was a shy boy who learned very early on that alcohol could "help" him through those awkward moments, even during games.

Oh boo hoo, Craig. Look, you got The Panel, so quit making excuses about the chat show that bombed

ONE should take reading publicity with an enormous pinch of salt. When someone is pushing a television show, or a film, they have to talk the talk and sell the idea as much as they can.

But you would hope there were some elements of authenticity in what they are saying about their project.

Some people are genius at it. Louis Walsh makes talking about the X Factor an art form.

It is like he is appearing on the show for the very first time, and it always seems like he is having the time of his life. Of course, it is hard work, a real effort and probably at times something he has no interest in doing. But he is relentless and a professional.

Louis does good publicity.

And then there is irritating publicity.

I remember when Craig Doyle was first doing the rounds for his chat show, he came out with fighting talk. It went something along the lines of: "I expect to be recommissioned."

Modest or what?

He went on to say that it would be foolish of RTE not to recommission. He essentially made his pre-publicity talk about how fabulous he was and how foolish RTE would be not to give him the works.

His show didn't get recommissioned. His chat show rival drop-kicked him out of the playing field.

Fast forward to Doyle's publicity spiel for his new job as host on The Panel. His revisited approach to his role in the non recommissioned chat show is to say that he never really wanted to do the show in the first place.

That it was supposed to be Gerry Ryan's show.

Instead of saying he had a great time and that he wasn't right for a chat show, he tells us he was forced into it.

Boo hoo! Poor little Craig.

Imagine the scene. An empty room in Montrose House, a single bulb swinging from the ceiling, and Craig Doyle tied to a chair. In walk three RTE managers in long leather coats. One holding a contract, one holding a whip, one holding the RTE Guide (checking ratings figures)


"Craig Doyle, you vill sign this contract. You vill do a chat show, and you vill be happy."

Craig succumbs to the pressure, and reluctantly signs.

Get a grip, Craig. And get honest. You had the show, it wasn't a success.

And you got the Panel.

There is nothing worse than a bad loser.

I won't hear one more bad word about Love/Hate

I HAVE an issue with people complaining about the new RTE drama, saying that the actors are too good looking. Love/Hate is a great piece of work.

The direction, the script and the performances are all good. And the idea that they can't be good looking -- does that mean Leonardo DiCaprio should not have been in Gangs Of New York, or Ray Liotta should have been axed from Good Fellas. Or Ben Affleck in The Town.

Drama is not real life, real life doesn't have sound tracks, editing, grading or rehearsal time. Drama is entertainment, and what better than a good looking criminal or four on our screens?

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