Groundhog Saturday: How TV repeats can spoil a night in!

Our man Frank on the tedium of TV repeats; A lament for classic old comedy stars; Memories of Miss Ellie’s…and when Niall and Lewis came to town…

It’s Sunday evening, and as I sit at my kitchen table writing this piece my thoughts are with all of you folk out there who have to pay €160 a year for your television licenses.

There are not that many benefits to being over 70 years of age, but being exempt from paying the TV license is one of them. And from what I can see on our national television networks, not having to pay anything must be regarded as a bonus.

As most of you know by now, I am partial to an odd pint of the black stuff. So most Saturday nights you will find me on a high stool, hopefully with my elbow on a suitably situated counter and a nice pint of Guinness in my hand – when it comes to drinking I am ambidextrous, which means I am equally as good with either hand. However, last night I decided to stay in, and as the evening darkness kicked in, having picked out two programmes that I thought would be nice to watch, I settled down for a lovely Saturday evening’s entertainment.

The first programme was Celebrity Bainisteoir, a reality show in which different football clubs are managed by well-known people who play off amongst each other until a winner eventually emerges. Last night’s teams were managed by husband and wife Brian Ormond and Pippa O’Connor.

Carol follows Pippa on social media and I thought she would really like to see her in action, and so we both sat down to watch it. All was going well until Pippa announced that herself and Brian were nearly a year married! Now that would have raised no red flags at all with me as I wouldn’t have a clue, but immediately Carol knew that we weren’t watching what I had assured her was the 2022 Celebrity Bainisteoir.

After digging a little further we discovered that they had got married in 2011, and the programme I was so excited to have found was in fact a repeat of the 2013 series. However, even though I had to eat a bit of humble pie, I was still fully confident about the second programme lined up.

Advertised on the TV schedule and in the paper as ‘the new series of Tommy Tiernan’s show’, I was sure the programme would be a great hit, but as we watched his opening interview with retired state pathologist Marie Cassidy, the penny dropped that we had seen it all before; it too was a repeat.

On a Saturday night when lots of people are off work for the weekend and need to be entertained, it’s hardly good enough from our national network. Please God next Saturday night will find me back in my usual position and the only repeat will be “pour me another pint, please”.

Where’s Groucho?

The other day a friend of mine (who is pretty much of my vintage) asked me where have the Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy movies disappeared to?

We both bemoaned the fact that their very funny films are never shown anymore. In the early days of television, the Marx Brothers in particular were simply fantastic, and while a lot of the readership of this paper may never have even heard of them before, the antics of the four brothers (but especially the monumental rascal, Groucho) were especially memorable.

And so as I searched through the channels today (Sunday) I was delighted to come across a black and white film starring Abbott and Costello, which was a throwback to the days of the Marx Brothers and others. While it was thoroughly silly and totally unbelievable, it was great craic and a reminder of times long ago.

Maybe RTE could go through their vinyl vaults and dig out a load of those black and white movies – and then that €160 fee would be well worth it!

Memories of Miss Ellie’s

Recently a couple of us were talking about Miss Ellie’s Nightclub in Roscommon and the many great late nights we had there, back when the fledgling Creggs Rugby Club used to hold fundraising buffets in that venue on a regular basis.

Those were the famous times of nightclubs having to provide meals for the punters, and ‘Chicken in the Rough’ was the favourite menu item of the era. Some rule had been brought in that made it compulsory for nightclubs to provide a meal for everyone, although if memory serves me correctly most of those in attendance had very little interest in any type of food.

Anyway, that would have been the end of that, but then on Saturday during a bit of spring cleaning we came across a ticket for a fundraising dance that Carol and I ran in Miss Ellie’s for the Irish Cancer Society way back in March 2000.

Joe Finnegan, still of Shannonside fame, was the MC on the night, and among the artists appearing were Sonny Ward, Seamus Ward, and Jack the Lower’s daughter, Brina Hegarty. There were also bands called Ankle and Les Chancers. Admission was 5 pounds and I remember that when it went ahead on some Thursday night, the place was packed.

Those were the days when Miss Ellie’s was the centre of our social lives, when Chicken in the Rough was a big part of our weekly diets. As I look back on my life since then, I’m not sure that either of those things were that good for me, but I wouldn’t have missed them for the world!

Niall and the black stuff…

Back to television: over the last couple of weeks Virgin Media have been showing a documentary about Niall Horan’s homecoming to Mullingar.

Along with his friend and Scottish superstar Lewis Capaldi, Niall undertook a road trip around Ireland, finishing up in his home town of Mullingar. Having busked on Dublin’s Grafton Street to the enjoyment of hundreds of lucky shoppers, the pair then thrilled fans in Clarke’s pub in Mullingar by playing a gig in what used to be Niall’s local.

I have to say the two of them came across as pretty well grounded for such major stars. And so it is a pity that he ended up landing himself in hot water by – of all things – having a pint in the Guinness Storehouse.

Why that simple act has caused controversy is beyond me, but criticism has been coming his way for “setting a bad example” for his young fans. It’s a strange thing that having one pint can upset so many people.

The whole thing led to Niall’s mother defending her son’s innocent partaking of a couple of pints, adding that while in Clarke’s he was in fact drinking a pint with zero alcohol. Whether he was or not doesn’t really make any difference as he never showed any sign of being under the influence, and surely nearly everyone who visits the world famous Guinness Storehouse samples a drop of the black stuff?

I think the reaction was way over the top, and typical of the spotlight that modern-day celebrities are put under. Drugs are certainly a no-go area, but a solitary pint is hardly worth commenting on.

Harvest Festival this weekend

Don’t forget the annual Creggs Harvest Festival takes place this weekend. I hope to make an appearance at some of the events over the four days. I don’t think I’ll be featuring in the Suck Valley AC 10k or 5k timed run on Monday morning, but I hope to make it along to the school later that evening when the Bard of Connacht will be announced. I hear that the €1,000 in prize money has attracted poets from near and far so it will be interesting to see who becomes the new Bard of Connacht. It’s great to see that the village is back to two pubs with Jenni having taken over Gannon’s Bar and of course Mikeen’s will be in full swing also for the Harvest Festival, so I might just have to go along and support the local efforts!

And finally…

On Sunday week last I stood on the sidelines in Creggs RFC as our lads took on Westport, and then I watched Aoife O’Rourke win her first round fight in the European Championships on someone’s phone, in the company of her two younger sisters and her father Kevin.

On Sunday she arrived back to Ireland as the gold medal winner and European Champion (again), and I just hope we all can appreciate all that she and her sister Lisa have done for Roscommon, Connacht, and Ireland. Congratulations again Aoife! What an ambassador you are for Roscommon, and what amazing careers the two of ye have had so far, and will no doubt continue to have in the future. Well done!