Sunday, 22nd July 2018
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Highlights of the Year

When you look back at the tv year you might be forgiven for thinking that a lot, if not the majority, of what was on the box were just repeats of the same programmes and news reports of all the terrible things that were happening in the world. That might be true to an extent but there were enough good things on the telly, depending on your point of view, to ensure that you had a good if not very good viewing year. Taking away all of the soaps which seemed to have gotten more miserable in the last number of years as well as overly melodramatic and the proliferation in the numbers of programmes that are focused solely on the emergency services then there was still a high number of shows that you could watch that were well worth the time and effort that you put into it. Of course when you talk about 'telly' these days you have to take into account the fact that not everyone watches television on it's traditional platform and there are all numbers of ways in which people can watch their favourite shows.

On demand and streaming services are hugely popular with a younger audience but the fact remains that the majority of people watch their programmes and get their fixes through the reliable old box in the corner of the room. Some of the best shows this year were stand alone dramas and one of the very best was the BBC's WAR AND PEACE which had a stellar cast as it retold the story of Napoleon invading Russia in 1812. This show was the sort of programme that had it all, wonderful production values were you could literally see where the money was spent in every single shot. The acting of course was superb and the direction was faultless.

Naturally enough in a story of this scale there were tales of doomed love affairs as well with suitably weepy heroines in beautiful dresses who make mistakes and come too late to that resolution. WAR AND PEACE was a stand out piece of tv making.

Another such show in a similar mould was

VERSAILLES which told the story of the life of the court surrounding the Sun King Louis XIV. This was the second year that the show was on and lets hope that it won't be the last. The show was like the previous one full of attention to detail and the budget for the wigs alone would likely cause a seizure if anything were to happen to them. The settings were superb and rich in depth and everything about the programme lived up to that. Again like the previous show it was the story however that carried the day.

What really made this programme interesting was the fact that at the end of each of the shows there was a brief historical note which explained the background to what had just gone before and no matter how strange everything might have seemed in the programme, wide scale poisonings being just one, it was interesting to find out that they were all rooted in fact. Another programme rooted,, literally, in beauty was the CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW which saw a full week of horticultural delights being broadcast from London to showcase some of the most amazing plants, flowers and gardens that are available to view anywhere on the planet. You don't have to necessarily be green fingered to watch and enjoy this show but just have a general interest in plants and gardens which most people do have even if they'd never go out and wield a trowel to save their lives.

Presented by the ever equitable Monty Don the CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW is one of the highlights of any years t.v. viewing. At the other end of the scale, as it is every year is the X-FACTOR. It is interesting to see how low this show has slipped down in the ratings from even just five years ago and even all of the self generated hype that it tries to engender just doesn't make it as vital as it once was. If anything the only reason to watch it is just to find out how the mighty have fallen and how four pensioner judges can mentor teenagers.

Back again to the opposite end of hype is GRANT-CHESTER which is all about a vicar in a sleepy village getting involved in solving murders, very much like FATHER BROWNE which is also a much watch. GRANTCHESTER though has a more melancholy feel to it than that other priestly programme and is all about the ups and downs of how the vicar tries to manage his life in the aftermath of the second world war where he served as a soldier.

Other honourable mentions of the year must go to the GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF which survived its transfer to Channel 4 and even though Joe McFadden was the surprise winner of STRICTLY COME DANCING it was one of the runners up by the name of Debbie McGee who will be seen as the real winner of the show which had her name in the headlines practically every week.

These are just some of the shows that made it onto the shortlist of best this year but better again is that there is another whole year ahead and another whole year of tv watching.

Waterford shows on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta at Christmas

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta"s Christmas schedule will include several shows of interest to listeners in Waterford in particular.

On Christmas Eve at 5 pm Helen Ní Shé presents a programme featuring the all-male Cór Fear na nDéise choir from the Waterford Gaeltacht and a description of Christmas traditions in the area.

On Christmas Day at 7 pm, listeners can tune in to hear the gala concert from the Nioclás Tóibín festival in the Déise in February which celebrates the legendary singer from the area.

There"ll be lots of other shows from the rest of the Munster region too, including RnaG ag an Oireachtas on Christmas Day at 3 pm, which will showcase some of the best of the Oireachtas festival that took place in Killarney in November and attracted thousands from the Irish-language community to the area. In 1937, twenty families from the Kerry Gaeltacht moved to Gibstown in Co. Meath to live on land acquired by the Land Commission as part of a government resettlement scheme and on St Stephen"s Day after the news at 12 pm, Helen Ní Shé brings us their stories. Just after that at 1.30 pm, Sláine Ní Chathalláin, who this year won the award for Rising Star at the Oireachtas Media Awards, brings us a programme about the tradition of the wran, as recalled by the community in West Kerry in Lá an Dreoilín, mar a bhí.

On New Year"s Day at 12.08 pm we"ll hear highlights from the Éigse Dhiarmuidín estival that took place in West Cork in early December, remembering musician and broadcaster Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin. An Nollaig ar Oileán Chléire is an archive show presented by Mícheál Ó Sé on Wednesday 27th December at 5.30 pm about Christmas on Cape Clear.

As well as all this, sports fans may be interested in the review of the sporting year 2017 which will be broadcast on New Year"s Eve at 1.15 pm. Music fans will have plenty to choose from too, including the gala concert from the concertina festival Consairtín in Ennis in April which will be broadcast on St Stephen"s Day at 7 pm.

A Killing Winter

Author Tom Callaghan: Published by Quercus : Price e17.99

Alyk Borubayev is somewhat of a lone wolf, it's what his name actually means, and ever since the death of his wife Chinara from cancer he has very little in his life except for his work. His work means everything to him even though as a detective in the Bishkek murder squad he regularly comes into contact with the worst of human nature.

There is virtually nothing that he hasn't seen or experienced and when his wife was alive he could just about manage it by talking through his cases with her. Now not only is he grieving for his beloved wife but he is also alone with all of the cases of murder that he has to deal with. His latest case though is not like anything he has come across before. It is the murder of a young woman who has been cut open and a foetus placed inside her stomach.

What is even worse is when Alyk finds out who she is the daughter of; the chief of internal state security. There is no way that he can't solve this particular case and it is up to him on his own to figure out who has committed the crime and then to hand the person or persons responsible to the Chief so he can deal with him. He gets help from his uncle in law an old time smuggler and criminal who tells him that a pregnant woman has been murdered some eight hours from the capital and the baby stolen from her womb. It definitely sounds like a connection.

It turns out that more than likely it is the child that was placed in the stomach of the young girl. It is one thing to make that connection but another to find out who was responsible and how everything fits together.

Further complicating things is the arrival in his life of a member of Uzbek internal security, a woman called Saltanat who is as deadly as she is beautiful. It turns out that there have been a large number of similar cases that have happened in that country as well. Again they have to try and figure out the connection and who is behind all of it. They get into several incidents together and nearly don't make it out alive, it is obvious that there are some serious people who are trying to thwart their efforts to solve this case and as the body count rises things are becoming more desperate.

This is not a novel for the faint hearted, there are many vicious scenes of bloody fighting as well as death and destruction in the book. And even though Alyk and Saltanat become closer as the novel continues and they eventually figure out what and who is behind the crimes it is the love that Alyk holds for his dead wife Chinara that shines brightest.

While there might be some resolution in the novel there are no happy endings and even the last chapter that concerns Chinara is devastating.

A gripping book that hook you and doesn't let go.


Letters to the Editor

  • Our View

    Time for a breakJust as the height of Summer begins it seems that it is also the time when our politicians begin their yearly departure from Dail Eireann. While not many professions get as much holiday time as politicians do you have to ask the question whether they merit such long breaks?There are many who would immediately answer that they don't really deserve such long holidays, that they barely seem to spend any time in the Dail at all and after all they are well remunerated for the long hours …

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