Television: RTÉ's kings of satire

An imposter pretending to be Mary Harney on Questions and Answers made it ‘quite a laugh' and the RTÉ rugby panel can be fairly entertaining. But the best thing on television at the moment is an advertisement


The best thing on television these times is an advertisement. It was the Señor de la Casa (aka husband) that alerted me to this. It is shown mainly on Sky Sports, although it is an Irish-made ad. It's for Amstel beer and it shows five fellas in a jungle some where coaxing animals into Noah's ark. “Up and in to the left” and the directions, “mind your head” to the two giraffes. Then the ark door is closed. One of the lads signals they should go for a few pints and the next shot has them at a table with gleaming flasks of beer. It's pouring rain outside, blobs of rain coming through the roof and someone rushes in to say “the boat's gone and they forgot those ones”, pointing at two unicorns. “Ah, don't mind”, one of the lads says. “It's not the end of the world.” See it.

Watching the ad whenever it is on, I got engrossed in Munster's progress in the Heineken Cup. Actually that was prompted by the rabid sectarianism of the Señor de la Casa, whose allegiances lie with Leinster and who hates everything Munster – except me. I hope. I think. I wonder.

This Heineken Cup thing has become a huge television event. According to the Señor, rugby has been cleaned up specially for television. There is more continuous play, more action. Certainly more passion.

I hardly realised I was from Munster until this all started. Being from Cork was/is sufficient for me. But suddenly our identity is being merged with Limerick especially (which surely is a little troubling), Kerry, Tipperary and the rest. Although I am not sure there are any players on the Munster rugby team other than from Cork. Do they play rugby in Limerick? Cowboys and Indians I always believed.

Sky Sports has made a big thing of it, with cameras at all angles, instant replays and brilliant TV analysis by someone who appears to be operating from a dungeon. The panel is a bit pallid, not as good as the RTÉ one, hosted by Tom McGurk (from whom, apparently, my aunt's affections are now entirely alienated because she thinks he is a right-wing fascist, having paraded as a revolutionary around Northern Ireland in the late 1960s – who cares? And by the way she thinks almost everyone that has anything to do with RTÉ nowadays is a right-wing fascist). There is that large ugly fellow, Gabriel Hook, and that quite handsome fellow, Popie (is that a real name?) and they can be rather entertaining, like two animated Armenians you might meet on a train going through Belarus and not understand a word they are saying.

Where was I?

Nope... Can't remember.

On to Questions and Answers (RTÉ 1 Mondays, 10.35pm). There was a woman on the panel last Monday (15 January) who bore a striking resemblance to Mary Harney, the minister for health and children. Hard to get that one wrong, you would think. But maybe not, for this woman kept going on about what was wrong with the health service and how someone should put it right. Fees in Accident and Emergency, she said, “unacceptable”. Can't have people being treated on the basis of their ability to pay. “Unacceptable” that someone had to wait months to get treatment for colon cancer.


I swear this woman was the cut of Mary Harney and there this impostor was going on and on about what was wrong with the health service. I didn't know Questions and Answers was a satirical programme. Quite a laugh nonetheless.

You see, they are not all right-wing fascists in RTÉ.

The supporting act on that one was a discussion on a proposal to ferry drunks around the Irish countryside in public buses. Hilarious.

Except for that woman, Marion McGuinness. The next leader of Fine Gael I heard someone say on radio during the week. Oh good God. There she was preening, posing, posturing, pretending. Marking trivial points off on her fingers, glancing around like a turkey for approbation and attention. This one will go far and is she ever does become leader of Fine Gael, she will do them in for good.

Actually that was quite hilarious too.