Paul Healy’s Week

Thursday

It’s not entirely clear whether one should refer to the business magnate/grim-faced media personality Alan Sugar as Lord Sugar, or Sir Alan Sugar, or even Baron Sugar, but in any event, He Who Has Definitely Been Honoured is back on our screens tonight as yet another series of ‘The Apprentice’ kicks off (BBC One).

  Having missed the entire recent series of ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’, it is possible that I will sign up to keeping a (sceptical) eye on this very lavish and very silly escapism.

  Given the supposed premise of this reality show, you could be forgiven for thinking that the participants should represent the cream of the available talent of Generations Y and X combined. They should, one might imagine, be brilliantly talented people who have the right amount of confidence (not arrogance), entrepreneurial flair, a strong work ethic, and a willingness to listen and learn. Of course they are anything but the above.

  Within ten minutes of tonight’s first episode it’s clear that the producers have unearthed yet another batch of egotistical and largely delusional wannabes.

  In the great tradition of this show, most of the contestants are frighteningly vacuous and laughably self-important. So, no budding Richard Bransons here, but at least there are petty rows, comically inept ventures, and boardroom showdowns to look forward to on upcoming Thursday nights.

  Mind you, in fairness to the young wannabes – who might as well pursue their 15 minutes of fame, plus the prospect of a new job and six-figure salary – the most objectionable part of episode one was Mr Sugar’s very feeble jokes. His writers need to be…fired.

Friday

Devastation for comedians everywhere, following a statement from Twitter, which says it wants to reiterate its commitment to ensuring that the platform doesn’t become a forum that facilitates abuse. This, clearly, is the joke of the week.   

Saturday

It’s one of the great scandals of our time – but we seem to be powerless.

  I am of course referring (again) to GAA (and soccer) managers/players giving futile, tedious and arguably insulting interviews to the media.

  Today I heard a GAA manager (not Anthony Cunningham) maintain the now well established practice of talking up the opposition, while almost casting doubt on his own team’s chances of even competing, much less winning.

  The manager in question spoke of how formidable the opposition would be, and expressed the hope that his team might be able to hang in there for 50 minutes or so, and then – well, you know the rest – maybe, just maybe, they could have a bit of a chance in a close finale. It was sheer guff.

  Of course we all know that the same manager will have been telling his players all week – and in the dressing room before throw-in – that they have all the tools required to dispose of the opposition.

  Just once, in GAA or soccer, I’d love to hear a manager or player say something like this before a game: “Can we win? Of course we can. We have super players. We’re flying it in training. We respect our opponents, but of course we can win – in fact we fully expect to do so. We believe in ourselves…we’re going out to win. They’ll know they’ve been in a game…I am fully expecting our lads to do the business”.

  Sadly, such straight talking is very rare. Instead, waffle wins out. The tedious tactic is to talk up the opposition, never show one’s hand, and at all costs avoid giving any sense of being confident (for fear it might be a hostage to fortune). The result of these silly charades is that the media, and more importantly the supporters/viewers/listeners, are being treated like fools.

Saturday

That GAA Air Dome in Bekan has been getting some great publicity over the past week or two. What an excellent facility it is. I didn’t get there today, for Roscommon v Sligo, but we have full coverage in our sports section. Social media footage of Enda Smith’s brilliant solo goal has whetted my appetite for the season ahead! The Rossies won well (3-23 to 0-21).

Saturday

Having seen a number of Elvis Presley documentaries over the years, I wasn’t particularly motivated to look out for any ‘specials’ on the occasion of his birthday (Elvis was born 87 years ago today).

  However, I stumbled upon a lovely programme – ‘Elvis: The Rebirth of the King’ – on BBC Four tonight, and even though there has been so much content on Elvis over the years, it actually contained footage that I hadn’t seen before.

  The film (which first aired a few years ago) concentrated on Elvis’s period in Las Vegas, with band members, backing singers and others interviewed. Some of the footage was very poignant…Elvis taking ‘Vegas’ by storm in his peak, followed a few years later by the sad sight of his chronic physical decline beginning to manifest itself.

  The programme was written, directed and narrated by a man called Mike Connolly, and, given his accent and my minimal online research, he appears to be an Irish man!

  Documentaries on ‘The King’ are very plentiful – it’s a crowded field – this one is insightful, nostalgic and moving.

Saturday night

Another Saturday night, another eruption of noise from cavorting cars as so-called boy racers do their ‘donut’ manoeuvres/wheel spins out our way.

  I don’t know how prevalent this activity is countywide, but where we live, pretty much every weekend features the revving and revelling.

  I can confirm that it is very, very annoying, irresponsible and dangerous. I am tempted to bring back my occasional ‘Idiots of the Week’ series.

Sunday

Congratulations to Padraig Pearses on their magnificent win in the Connacht Club Senior Football Championship Final. I enjoyed TG4’s coverage, while switching to Willie for the final minutes. With Knockmore finishing strongly, it was nerve-wracking at the end, but Pearses held on for a superb and historic victory. We have full coverage throughout this issue.

Sunday night

I won’t be watching Dancing with the Stars (RTE One). I don’t mind the dancing, I could even put up with the stars, but I can’t stand that bit where the latest duo skip off up the stairs to be cooed over by their fellow contestants, all of them sporting permanent smiles, human love emojis who have been briefed to the last; worse is that moment when the celebrities impersonate a mobile phone (if that still happens) as they lobby for public support after receiving the judges’ votes; but the main reason I won’t be watching is because of the stilted presenters, with their faux excitement, all of it shamelessly scripted and of course ‘borrowed’ from the UK original. Pass the remote, please!

Monday night

Imagine you’re an opposition TD who’s been invited on to The Tonight Show (Virgin Media)…but you haven’t had time to check who the other guests are. You arrive in studio, and he’s there: Fine Gael’s new populism detonator, one Neale Richmond TD.

  Cool Hand Neale will annoy some viewers/listeners, he may even come across as smug – you may even detest what Fine Gael stands for – but he’s devastatingly good as the party’s in-form media ‘performer’.

  Adept across most subjects, Neale is particularly assured on all matters Brexit, frequently metaphorically chewing up/spitting out UK MPs on the airwaves.

  As for opposition spokespersons here, he’s really not the guy you want to be ‘up against’. Ruthless Richmond may be a touch monotone (calm?) and favour the po-faced approach over smiling, but so be it. Just now, when it comes to the media battlefield, he’s Fine Gael’s very effective and not so secret weapon.

  

Tuesday/Wednesday

Watching Partygate threaten the career of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, I am (naturally) reminded of ‘A Night at the Opera’…

  “The party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the party of the first part” a patient Groucho Marx tells Chico, when reading a legal document during the classic scene.

  Predictably, confusion follows. Chico wants Groucho to read ‘the first part’ out loud again, before later telling him “I don’t like the second party either”.

  Groucho: “You should have come to the first party…we didn’t get home ‘til around four in the morning”.

  There is no suggestion that Boris Johnson was at that party.