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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rude Awakening

Sideline commentary from yesterday's Irish Independent

By now, everyone must have seen or read about the live row that took place during a highly-charged interview on TV3's Ireland AM show thisweek. Even those of us who were sensibly not awake at that ungodly time of the morning were very quickly swamped with a deluge of texts,emails and blog links excitedly notifying us of the scrappy sofa squabble.

And it's that fervour and glee with which people greeted the news of the telly dust-up that leads me to ask: is Ireland at last ready for its own Jerry Springer-style talk show?Up until this week, we might have all believed that Ireland was too small a country, too reserved, too concerned with what Betty and Jimmy next door would think to take part in or condone the kind of hysterical, car crash television experience that The Jerry Springer Show specialises in.

Alas, as our reaction to the Ireland AM spat demonstrates, it would seem that as Ireland has become more sophisticated, our entertainment tastes have become more feral. Every TV and newspaper report on the Ireland AM row was fascinated by, and almost fetishistic in its description of seeing people attack each other live on air, a seemingly accurate reflection of the public's hunger for the story.

We might not like to admit it, but after years of watching family members, lovers, co-workers and friends lay into each other on shows like Springer, and the British equivalents Tricia and Jeremy Kyle et al, we Irish are perhaps hankering for a native talk show wrestling ring in which we can revel, and through which we can exorcise our own demons by way of those people brave/crazy/fame-hungry enough to air their really dirty linen in public.

There is a lot of anger, resentment, frustration and pain bubbling away on or near to the surface of Irish life today. It seems inconceivable that some wily producer has not considered appealing to our basic instincts and devising a TV forum that could expertly exploit that social and personal malaise for our wider entertainment.They are the shows we love to hate to love.

You have to admit that it's fascinating to speculate on what kind of content such an Irish show would include, the guests it would attract, and even on who would host it? And how fitting is it that an early morning show might just have awakened the beast in all of us?

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