Sean Ban has certainly set a new televisual low even for RTE

  • 9 August 2007
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The summer celebrities show is probably the worse programme ever shown on the small screen anywhere, at least since last year's show.
Sean Ban Breathnach, apparently is affectionately known as SBB. It suggests there is something about him that evokes affection, perhaps even sufficient affection from some people, sufficient to outweigh the immense cringing embarrassment he generates.
He is or was a “star” of  TG4, which must say quite a lot about TG4. According to the RTE web site, he presented the first Irish language pop music programme on Radió Éireann in 1969 when he was 19 years old. I am glad I wasn't around then. So awful is he on Charity You're a Star that I nearly applauded the most revolting man on television, Brendan O'Connor, when he said Sean Ban Breathnach had touched a new low.
Sean Ban thinks he is a class act. Funny, “with it”, great craic. And it is the collision of that vanity with, with, mediocrity – actually mediocrity doesn't come near capturing the awfulness of Sean Ban but let's settle for mediocrity for now – that collision is what is most jarring. This isn't car-crash television, this is apocalypse television. Even in a show that is overloaded with talentless, witless nobodies, Sean Ban is way ahead.
Whoever thought it a ruse to entice Sean Ban on the programme was unkind. Unkind to the viewer but most of all unkind to Sean Ban. He could have done nothing in his life so far to justify the encouragement to make such a spectacle of himself.
Others on this programme are awful too but not in the same league of awfulness. The presenter Brian Ormond is awful. The RTE web site says he “wowed” viewers as presenter of You're A Star Plus on RTE Two for the last few years. I never saw that programme and never saw him before but “wowed” anyone? Not likely.
One of the judges is Amanda Bunker, who, we are told, is a former Miss Ireland, which is not entirely obvious nowadays. Perhaps the camera is unkind to her. She brings nothing to the show. She is not witty, not biting, not cruel, not clever, not charming. Just nothing.
Brian McFadden, formerly of Westlife, is not bad at all. Better looking than Louis Walsh (who isn't – well actually Brendan O'Connor isn't), which brings us to Brendan O'Connor. Again the RTE web site says he is known for speaking his mind, which, unfortunately, is probably true. The web site goes on to claim he is “only saying what the people at home are really thinking”, which is some insult to the license payers of Ireland.
I have to admit I never heard of a single one of the celebrities who are taking part in this show. Perhaps I being youngish and a woman is a disability but who are the likes of Jack O'Shea, David Beggy, Barney Rocke, Brent Pope, Shane Byrne (all sports types I am informed by the senor de la casa, which explains why I and most of the women of Ireland have never heard of them), Nuala Carey (apparently a weather forecaster but I never saw her forecasting), Joe O'Shea and the others.
Four of the women are certainly very good looking, the three “Roses” Orla Tobin, Orla O'Shea, Roisin Egenton, and the model Vivienne Connolly and to be fair, Nuala Carey is pretty good looking as well. But celebrities?
None of the men are good looking, aside from Brian McFadden, that is and, come to think of it, he might be a bit of a celebrity too.
As of the time of writing, Brent Pope, Vivienne Connolly and a few others have been eliminated but Sean Ban is still there. Does this suggest Irish television viewers have a macabre sense of humour or that their aesthetic discernment is below measuring?
The senor de la casa (by they way this is a synonym for the husband, an au pair we had from Spain a few years ago used to refer to him as this and it stuck, he insisted it stuck) has suggested a few names for next year's Charity You're a Star: Paddy “the Plasterer”, Mae Sexton, Pat Tuffy (remember him a few years back, something to do with Michael Lowry), Jackie Healy Rea, Mary O'Rourke and Willie O'Dea.  By the way where is Linda Martin? She is bright, clever, cruel, witty and knows a bit about music as well.
Linda Martin was on Saturday Night with Miriam on the night the Charity show started. She was gracious, elegant and intelligent, which, I suppose disbarred her from the programme. Miriam O'Callaghan is superb as a chat show hostess, quite the best RTE has around. Her interview with Bertie Ahern a few weeks back was relaxed and even a bit insightful. She was excellent with Padraig Harrington but wouldn't his victory in the British Open have merited a show all to himself?
Radio this summer resembles the weather. Come to think of it Tom McGurk resembles a monsoon, constant pouring droning rain. If ever Pat Kenny disentangles himself from land squatting in Dalkey he will be more than welcome back on the airwaves. Even my aunt in Skibereen now denies ever knowing McGurk (it emerged last year she went out with him for a while in the early 1970's after she met him at a civil rights march in Newry where a police vehicle was toppled into the canal and the rebellious McGurk wanted the marchers to contribute to a fund to restore the van).
It sounds as though he was a tedious poseur then and certainly he comes across as that now, full of feigned indignation and surprise, usually over nothing at all. His shrill tones over the emergence of yet another mood-altering drug recently was oh-so dreary.