Child's play

One of the most original, funny bits of radio to be heard at the moment is Kids Talk on Moncrieff on Newstalk 106 (Monday – Friday, 2.30pm – 4.30pm). It features the show's reporter, Henry McKean, traveling around schools in Dublin and interviewing children between the ages of eight and 10.

In the wrong hands, this would be a load of twee, patronising rubbish, but with McKean in control it is fresh, humorous, unpredictable and politically incorrect.

"Ballymun still has a notorious reputation, but has improved over the years," says McKean, a posh Brit who sounds like racing pundit John McCririck introducing the 3.40 at Aintree. "I asked the boys from Our Lady of Victories Boys' National School [in Ballymun] what they thought."

"I think it's a dump and Ballymuners always rob your runners," says one.

"There's all rats running around the shoots," says another.


"Yeah. And when you look on the ground there's all rat-poison everywhere."

"Ballymun is the blest... the best place to live. I love it," says another boy.

"Ballymun is alright and all, but there's loads of junkie fellas dealing in drugs around. Most of the time they do be getting drunk. When I lived in the Ballymun flats, there was this fella knocking on everyone's door asking them for money and all to buy drugs, to sponsor him for drugs."

You won't hear that kind of stuff making it past the RTÉ censors.

McKean conducts his interviews skillfully. His own input is minimal – the golden rule of interviewing – and he avoids asking the kind of dead-end questions that adults usually ask children, such as "What is your favourite colour?" or "What is your favourite subject in school?" Although he does travel to private, fee-paying schools on the south side of Dublin, the smartest and most illuminating interviews come from the inner city.

"The Gardaí try to win over the kids, but it doesn't always work," he says while visiting a Sherrif St school.

"I hate the cops because sometimes they nearly knock people down," says one boy. "The other day, there was something must have been happening up in East Wall, cause there was loads of cop cars flew by. And there was one cop car that was last, and it was bating along, and this little dog nearly got knocked down, and the dog got a fright."

"I was in my auntie's a few weeks ago," says another. "Loads of cop cars came. They were undercover, they had jackets and all on. They booted down the door and I was upstairs."

Relations between the sexes often uncover some interesting responses:

"I hate boys because they get away with everything. Because when we're bursting we have to go home and all, and they just have to do it at the wall. They don't have to go through pain and all, they can just run away."

The boys bite back:

"They never close their mouths. They keep on talking."

"Girls are sliveens, they're just too bitchy, they're brats. When they're playing crash and bash they pinch you."

It is unfortunate that children are not asked about world events more often, because their answers are more insightful than most of their adult counterparts:

"Do you know who Tony Blair is?"

"He's the President of the United States."

"He's the Taoiseach of England"

"What do you think of Bertie Ahern?"

"I think he's a good Taoiseach of Ireland because he's related to somebody from Westlife."

" Who's George Bush?"

"He's from England and he's very old."

"He's somebody out of Sinn Féin."

"He's a magic man who stayed in a box for 44 days with only water."

"I think he's a ssssss-sap!

"He's a sap?"

"Yeah, because he's dopey! He wants to rule everywhere and he's coming to Dublin. I hope he's listening to this."

"I think he has a fat arse."

Children should be seen, and not heard, goes the saying. But in this case, the reverse is true.

Kids Talk is broadcast on Thursday at 4.10pm on Newstalk 106