Broadsheet on the Telly: mixed eclectic voices with hostage video broadcast quality
Last week, Broadsheet on the Telly bowed out after 89 late night episodes.
Neil Curran, who produced the show, broadcast live on Thursdays, and served as its movie critic, writes:
Many moons ago, Broadsheet put out a call for punters who might be interested in joining a new initiative of the site, Broadsheet on the Telly. The requirements were in true Broadsheet fashion, vague; “if interested, email us”. So I did.
Soon after I got an email from a John ‘Preposterous’ Ryan asking about having a chat. Well this was exciting. Was I going to be auditioned and quizzed on my knowledge on the site? Would John ask tough questions on politics or economics to test my worth? Would John quiz me on my political loyalties to see if I was a spy?
My relationship with Broadsheet over the years has been one of a casual nature. I wasn’t familiar with the site during the time of Kate Fitzgerald but became aware of it not long after. I read many of the articles, light hearted and heavy hitting, but I rarely visited the comments section.
At the time, Broadsheet had a reputation of “anything goes” in the comments section so I never got acquainted with the regular posters nor the drama that sometimes raised its head.
Cut back to that video call with John and seeing him for the first time. I expected a skinhead wearing a faded Pink Floyd t-shit with a Sex Pistols poster in the background on my screen. Instead I got a man with, let’s be honest, fantastic hair and a well ironed shirt, soft spoken with humility.
There was no audition, no quiz. Just a chat. I got the impression he wasn’t overrun with emails from people desiring to be part of the Telly slot. I guess people were just appreciative the anonymity the site offers.
Those early broadcasts saw a mix of panellists while the show found its footing. Johnny Keenan was there like myself from the start. Similar to me, Johnny didn’t have a background in media or politics and took party in the show for nothing else other than to be part of an alternative panel show.
Things plodded along until the tragic story about the late Ms. Dara Quigley broke. Broadsheet posted a link to the video of Ms. Quigley captured a few days before her death and all hell broke loose on the site. Regular commentators and panellists jumped ship and the comments section of the post was being hit over and over with anger from readers. Eventually Broadsheet took down the video link, but the anger continued and the damage had been done.
Of course, I missed all this on the site. Due to work commitments I hadn’t visited the site in two days. John sent the regular email about the show and I sent a reply committing to the show as normal.
I became aware of what had happened on the site from the string of upset and angry emails from some of the panellists afterward. As I caught up on what I missed and it made for very unpleasant reading and it was clear there would be only one thing talked about on the show that night.
I faced a choice. Do I also bail on the show? Do I add my anger to the comments? No, instead I chose to go ahead with the show. I was a panellist not a staff member and I believed that the site, via John, should be given the chance to explain themselves. I also found it difficult to believe that a site like Broadsheet, posted the video to draw attention to themselves or drive traffic too. I wanted to hear the Broadsheet perspective.
Episode 14 is a show that I will never forget. There were tumbleweeds in the pre-show online lobby. The only non-staff panellists who turned up was the ever-reliable Johnny and myself.
Even Johnny, an always upbeat gentleman, was sombre. John briefed us on his intention for the show; he would explain why he posted the video link. While at first, I didn’t agree with his views on it, I respected the integrity he showed in his explanation. He took the feedback from people on the chin but believed he was serving a greater purpose. It can be watched here . Right or wrong, I believed his intention was good.
It was somewhat of a turning point for me and how I viewed John and the site. That’s the thing with John Ryan. He always has a higher vision. His vision for the show has always been pure. He wanted to give a voice to regular folk and threw out open invites for guests all the time.
And It really was an open platform.
If someone didn’t come on or bailed, it was their choice, never the site. If you didn’t like a view on the show or indeed a person on the panel, you were welcome to take part of at least submit a view to the site (which in the latter life of the show could be done via the Live Chat on YouTube). There was no silencing of a voice if someone wanted to be part of it. (Unless you posted obnoxious comments in the Live Cha)
Broadsheet on the Telly did truly offer an alternate panel show that just couldn’t be matched by mainstream media. And while it was a low budget operation by volunteers, both staff and panellists, there were a number of stories that you wouldn’t necessarily get elsewhere particular as in-depth as covered by Broadsheet; Olga’s coverage of the Disclosures Tribunal, Lucky offering insight into the Direct Provision system, Vanessa’s financial review of RTÉ and the elements of the housing crisis, the candid in-depth interview with Tuam Home survivor Peter Mulryan with updates from lawyer, Kevin Higgins, both Stephen Garland and Kenny Tynan offering insight into the challenges they face getting the medical support and care they need in Ireland (for separate conditions). The list goes on.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been part of such as interesting show through the ups and downs over the 89 episodes. John, Olga and the Broadsheet team are doing great things with the site and long may it continue. Hopefully the show will return at some stage, after all, how are you going to know what movies to catch in the cinema at the weekend?
Previously: The Last Chatter