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Not too Late for Ryan to come of age

TV Review

It comes as little surprise that the number of people who tuned in to watch Ryan Tubridy’s first Late Late Show exceeded the one million mark. According to RTÉ, 1.6 million people tuned in to watch Ryan strut his stuff and almost one million of those stuck with it for two hours.
My dislike of Ryan Tubridy’s interviewing technique is well-documented in this column, but to my surprise I found myself enjoying the show and I even laughed at some of his jokes.
Shock! Horror! Amazement even!
I couldn’t believe it. Here I was on a Friday night watching The Late Late Show and, what’s more, I was interested in it. The guests were a good mix of people and, unlike his predecessor, Ryan was engaging with them. He was deviating from his questions, he was looking them in the eye, he was… A CHAT SHOW HOST!
Now, to some, my amazement may seem excessive, but I truly was astounded by the fact that as I watched the bold Ryan I didn’t reach for the remote once or sigh and shout as he turned the conversation back to himself. It was like looking at a new man.
He was like the hero of a movie blockbuster whose summer journey had led him to an a epiphany of self awareness… Okay, that was probably excessive but you get what I mean. He filled both the chair and the role well.
There were, however, a few areas open to improvement. Firstly, the music choices could have been better and maybe more high profile. Secondly, Ryan Reborn needs to give people a chance to respond. Yes, the general public wanted to see Brian Cowen on the show. Yes, they wanted the host to put the hard questions to the man. Yes, they wanted the man to be grilled. But they did not want Ryan to fire questions in such quick succession that they are denied what they really want from the Government, and An Taoiseach in particular – answers.
So, for the moment, Ryan is in this critic’s book as receiving a passing grade with a “well done but room for improvement grade”. Oh and a bonus point added for achieving a wonderful rapport with Cherie Blair, who was thoroughly interesting.
Before I go on to about another programme that I watched on UTV this week, I’d like to take the opportunity to acknowledge an error on my part. One of the readers of this column and The Clare Champion pointed out that I had said recently that Wuthering Heights was made by UTV. This was an error on my part and he was quite right in saying that it was an ITV production that of course was just shown on UTV. My thanks for your comments and I welcome more from anyone else who deems themselves moved enough to put pen to paper or finger to keypad.
Miss Marple has once again been reworked for the small screen. The well-known sleuth was the creation of the crime novelist Agatha Christie and has been a favourite of the viewing public for a many years. For those unfamiliar with the programmes or books, Miss Jane Marple is an elderly lady who is very good at training young girls for private service and for solving crimes. She is most brilliant but seemingly harmless and often plays down her brilliance to illicit confidences and truths from young people who find themselves caught up in schemes or murders most foul.
Now, it must also be said that the fact that these stories have been worked and reworked time and time again for television is down to the fact that despite huge criticism and derision from the book world, Agatha Christie is the most popular crime writer in the world. The stories themselves are neither intricate nor challenging but the fact remains that they are hugely popular and viewers enjoy watching both the harmless old lady and Christie’s other creation, the fastidious Belgian, Hercule Poirot, gradually put together the pieces of a crime. It really is quite harmless and in a time when we see so much gore in programmes like CSI, I think the world enjoys an old-fashioned, harmless piece of television that is watched as much for the costumes as it is for the thriller itself.
This current reworking by ITV has a very famous cast and it seems no expense was spared in the making of Pocket Full of Rye. The new Miss Marple is Julia McKenzie and she did a very good job of portraying the elderly lady with a nose for crime solving. Other cast members included Matthew MacFadyen, Rupert Graves, Helen Baxendale and the late Wendy Richard.
The show itself was a fairly good adaptation. It was funnier than other accounts and gave more scope to characters, such as the detective played by Matthew McFadyen. There were a number of times when excellent comic relief was provided by the all but silent detectives’ assistant played by Ralph Little of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps fame. His facial expressions were critical in the elevation and enjoyment of the piece. However, it must be said that, while I enjoyed the show, I wasn’t riveted and found myself channel surfing on the ad breaks. It was enjoyable and relaxing to watch but it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before and one had to wonder if perhaps they would have been better putting the money into adapting a different character but using the same accomplished cast. The classic crime series continues this month on UTV/ITV.
Justin Lee Collins is an interesting character who is making a name for himself as they try-anything-guy. He has hosted a number of programmes in which he has tried to transform himself from regular bearded man to professional, or at least bluffer, at many professions.
I particularly enjoyed the show that was screened last Sunday night in which he took up ballroom dancing so that he could compete in the San Francisco Pro/AM. His frank nature, comedic ability and his comfortable presence on camera made for interesting and engaging television that left the viewer with a new respect for a man who it seems there is no limit.
His newest project sees him trying to fulfill his life-long ambition to be a surf bum with attitude and is one to watch.

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