RTÉ breaks and Hector totally misses the border

RTÉ chiefs were left red-faced when they failed to broadcast a highly publicised, pre-recorded documentary in a prime-time slot and then struggled to air another programme in its place.

RTÉ breaks and Hector totally misses the border

Hector Breaks for the Border, featuring broadcasters Hector Ó hEochagáin & and Stephen Nolan, was scheduled for screening at 9.35pm on RTÉ1 last Monday.

But a string of technical errors resulted in the state broadcaster even having difficulty airing a substitute programme in the peak viewing slot.

The catalogue of blunders began with a blank screen when the programme — a joint production by RTÉ and BBC Northern Ireland and filmed earlier this year — was supposed to start.

After 20 seconds the female continuity announcer cut in, assuring viewers: “We apologise for the interruption to the programming here on RTÉ1. We hope to join Hector shortly. Just bear with us.”

However, another 25 seconds passed before the continuity announcer returned to issue a second apology and reveal details of a three- year-old historical documentary that was to be put on in its place: “Well Hector will have to wait to break for the border another night, as we’ve a bit of a technical issue here on RTÉ1. Instead we’re joining Fergal Keane now for The Story of Ireland.”

But viewers had to stare at a blank screen for a further 52 seconds.

The clearly embarrassed continuity announcer once again cut in, saying: “Our apologies again here on RTÉ1. We hope to join Fergal Keane shortly for The Story of Ireland.”

Another five seconds then elapsed before the substitute documentary finally began, resulting in the remainder of Monday evening’s shows running 10 minutes behind schedule.

An RTÉ spokes- woman said technical errors were to blame: “We expect it be aired sometime in the coming weeks.”

Fourteen viewers complained to RTÉ.

The documentary is also due to be screened on the BBC in the coming weeks.

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