Climate change dominates RTÉ's new season schedule

RTÉ has launched its new season schedule with an event at its headquarters stocked to the gills with razzmatazz and celebrity.

Climate change dominates RTÉ's new season schedule

RTÉ has launched its new season schedule with an event at its headquarters stocked to the gills with razzmatazz and celebrity.

However, it was the more sobering issue of climate change that dominated what’s to come in the new schedules.

The public broadcaster is to devote a full week in November to the issue of climate action, with “investigations, events and debate” aimed at pushing the subject to the top of the agenda.

That timeline will culminate in tandem with a youth assembly on climate - with 157 children from around the country leading a debate on the theme - which will convene at Dáil Éireann on 15 November.

Speaking regarding that schedule RTÉ director general, Dee Forbes, said: "We have been listening to what’s happening, and it’s been incredible to see how the youth of Ireland has risen up”, in reference to a march in Dublin last March which saw 11,000 students participate.

“We thought that we need to offer the youth a platform,” she added of the November schedule.

Eileen O'Higgins, Brian Redmond, Joanne Cantwell, Dermot Bannon, and Eoghan McDermott, with (front) Loraine Barry, Keith Barry, Joe Duffy, and Doireann Garrihy. Picture Andres Poveda
Eileen O'Higgins, Brian Redmond, Joanne Cantwell, Dermot Bannon, and Eoghan McDermott, with (front) Loraine Barry, Keith Barry, Joe Duffy, and Doireann Garrihy. Picture Andres Poveda

RTÉ confirmed the return of audience favourites such as First Dates Ireland and The Rotunda, but also took the opportunity to plug the newer productions on the table.

In terms of drama, Dublin Murders, a new eight-part crime drama co-produced with the BBC and Starz and starring Love Hate’s Killian Scott and Sarah Greene, was the showpiece product. The serial is set during the Celtic Tiger and focuses on two murder investigations led by two Garda detectives played by Scott and Greene.

Dead Still, meanwhile is a Victorian-era mystery set amid the heyday of “postmortem photography” as a memorial photographer investigates the murder of his recently deceased subjects.

A number of original documentaries are set for broadcast in the coming months, with Quinn Country catching the eye, a three-parter following the story of former billionaire Sean Quinn, who reportedly granted unprecedented access to himself for the production.

On the flipside of the taste coin is Pulling with my Parents, a series granting access for parents to their children’s dating apps. “Will Grindr be too much for Mum to handle?” asks the publicity blurb. The eternal question.

Ryan Tubridy is pictured with Demi Isaac Oviawe, Young Offenders, and Eileen O'Higgins, Dead Still. Picture Andres Poveda
Ryan Tubridy is pictured with Demi Isaac Oviawe, Young Offenders, and Eileen O'Higgins, Dead Still. Picture Andres Poveda

Live audience chat shows such as The Late Late Show - which sees Ryan Tubridy return for his tenth year in the host’s chair - and The Ray D’Arcy Show were both given airtime, with Mr D’Arcy and Mr Tubridy echoing the benefits of live TV over on-demand content.

“Netflix can’t do live television,” said Mr D’Arcy to enthusiastic applause from the 200-strong audience.

“You can’t download a live chat show, you can’t download soul,” said Mr Tubridy, who added that competing with Netflix is “easy”. “We’re the town hall, the pulse of the nation,” he said, adding that he is feeling energised for the season to come despite entering his second decade at the helm.

Sports-wise, alongside the forthcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan, the marquee news was that RTÉ will be broadcasting both the GAA Allianz National Leagues (shared with TG4) and AIB club championships next year, the latter for the first time.

Ireland's Fittest Family's Anna Geary, Donncha O'Callaghan, and Mairéad Ronan. Picture: Kinlan Photography
Ireland's Fittest Family's Anna Geary, Donncha O'Callaghan, and Mairéad Ronan. Picture: Kinlan Photography

Alongside the glamour and hype surrounding the new season’s offerings, however, was an unmistakable atmosphere of tension regarding the perilous state of RTÉ’s finances, and the challenge presented by on-demand digital services like Netflix. It was hard to miss given that references to “us being broke” and “can I have a job” peppered the utterances of hosts Doireann Garrihy and Eoghan McDermott like confetti.

Dee Forbes gave a brief speech at the start of proceedings, noting that “public service media has never been more important”. She said: “Every country deserves a free public media where it can see itself win, because without it something is truly lost."

Ms Forbes, who was not available for media comment at the event, has previously called for an increase in the €160 television licence fee that applies in Ireland in order to bolster public service broadcasting.

Two years ago RTÉ sold part of its Montrose campus for €107.5 million to Cairn Homes in a bid to curb its losses. In 2016 the station ran a deficit of €19.7 million, while Ms Forbes has made no secret of her desire to focus on the reduction of RTÉ’s wage bill.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.