A Modest Telly Vision


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

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52 thoughts on “A Modest Telly Vision

  1. Paddy

    Sorry to hear it’s over. You all did stellar work. Informative, entertaining and reassuring. I loved your personalities and I even liked the lack of editing and the fact that it sometimes rambled on in parts. It had a natural flow, and you highlighted issues that needed highlighting. Well done! I do hope there will be a return.

  2. Ollie Cromwell

    ” At the time, Broadsheet had a reputation of “anything goes” in the comments section ”
    That brought a wry smile to my face.
    Any opinion other than the broad consensus of a snowflake/me too echo chamber has the mob sharpening their pitchforks pdq.
    The left always were the most intolerant of others.

    1. bisted

      …have to agree* with Ollie…there never was an ‘anything goes’ comments section and the echo chamber mob are alive and well…

      *the only other time I recall agreeing with Ollie was about Hendricks Gin and Fevertree tonic…but would fundementally disagree on the cucumber…

    2. scottser

      ah but seoinín, you were never interested in debate, or indeed putting forth a consistent opinion. all you’ve ever wanted is to stir enough poo to win yourself the golden nanny goat and your own bridge.
      sadly though for us, you’re not even fit to pet mani’s kitten. even ABM could give you a discursive wedgie.

    3. McVitty

      I got barred from the site a while ago – around the time of the Repeal referendum, and for simply being persistent in expressing views against the consensus. It’s the strength consensus and its inability to question itself that I find most worrying – that they could have a conversation about abortion without considering children.

      Their way of convenient thinking is alarming and they will always drive people away from movements.

      Take euthanasia, I’ve always been open to the right to euthanasia (as in, I think it should be permissible) but through the course of a national conversation I would realize just how conceited/dishonest the arguments for it would be, how much leftist misanthropy (and misandry) is in the fabric of the “yes” movement, just how dominant and entitled the movement would be and above all, how constrained the dialogue would be as a result of these things – but on a separate plane, when you think how poor it would be in implementation, standards, regulation, you would be given good cause to reconsider the previously held convictions on the mater. This is what happens…every…time. Same would go for heroin clinics, Stockholm model for prostitution, etc. – even weed legalization.

      The absence of personal and moral responsibility is so stunning that in the end, many voting no because they have been forced to educate themselves to justify moving away – and in that process usually find that there are existing solutions that are technically adequate (but under-used) or that you can get most of the things these elsewhere if you want it….not that any of this would matter, because at this point in our history, the “yes” vote would still prevail on a 2:1 ratio – and when they win, they obsess over the one third that did not vote as they should.

      1. Nigel

        More vague ominous nonsense. Since we have at least one regular pro-life commenter who was prominent in the robust and acrimonious discussions during Repeal without being banned, I’m going to say that ‘expressing views against the consesnsus’ is a deceitful phrase designed to conceal whatever it was you actually said, just like the constant stream of non-specific generalities and judgements that lead you to be oh so incredibly CONCERNED.

        1. McVitty

          If you say so…

          Like those you side with, there is a fine line between your the convenient assumptions you make about an adversary and confirmation bias.

          Yeah, I’d be a concerned that the dominant culture thinks no-platforming someone is the best way forward etc – that they can set the parameters of a conversation and destroy anyone who steps out side of those knowingly or not. Nothing vague in that…and I’m hardly alone with this “concern” (again, with power-abuse)

          Is it ok if I start calling you White-Knige? :)

          1. Nigel

            ‘The dominant culture?’ If the left, liberals, progressive, whatever, were the dominant culture it wouldn’t have taken so long to repeal the 8th, Brexit wouldn;t be happening, Trump wouldn;t be president of the US and Varadkar and FG wouldn’t be in charge here. Nonetheless you expect them to concede any say over the parameters of the debate to everybody else. You expect downright subservience on their part.

            Hey, you don’t want people to make assumptions about you don’t use alt-right descriptors like ‘white knight’ for people who disagree with you.

          2. McVitty

            kNigel, you kinda are a white knight. I recall comments where you said men should pass a watermelon before they express a view on abortion!

            Things have changed substantially in the culture over the past 5 years or so – it’s hard to put a date on it…some think the influence is external actors driving social change in Ireland to push liberal agendas globally. I honestly don’t know about that, but there is relatively recent “liberal” (leftist really – the liberals idea of social would not involve divisive tactics like identity politics!) dominance in Irish media, universities, and it’s come to infiltrate the public space and some workplaces – and just because it’s to your liking, doesn’t mean it’s not concerning for some. I’m sure unionists thought what the English were doing here was fine too…depends where your sympathies lie.

            If Varadkar is good at anything, it’s pandering to group identity politics – saves him from having to do real work – a leaf from the book of Obama and Trudeau.

          3. Clampers Outside!

            You know what’s daft and stupid, when a commenter says “white knight” is an alt-right term…. just sayin’

          4. McVitty

            Our white-kNige claims to be colour blind but all he sees is colour…he’s not a liberal, not by any stretch. A more alt-right type would appropriately call him a NPC -and they wouldn’t be wrong either.

          5. Nigel

            So much vagueness and concern. Whoever made that comment about watermelons it wasn’t me. ‘Liberal – whoooooooo!’ Like ghosts they’re everywhere being all liberal and stuff! Threat or menace? They see colours and have obliged centre right politicians to try to pander to them! Rejecting the left-right paradigm means being incredibly concerned about the left daring to have progressive ideals while the right goes completely insane!

          6. Nigel

            ‘A more alt-right type would appropriately call him a NPC -and they wouldn’t be wrong either.’

            Would they? How unfair of me to think you like their ideas and wish to subscribe to their newsletter.

          7. McVitty

            Here you go kNige: https://www.broadsheet.ie/2018/05/26/eighthquake/

            My comment: “All responsibility and blame belong to men now. This is a remarkable achievement in social engineering dressed up as progress”

            Your comment: “Since men won’t be spending nine months growing then pushing a watermelon out between their legs that is absurdly untrue.”

            How you like them watermelons? What I like about you is your commitment.

            Nobody loves justice more than a man who uses “Painkiller” as a handle ;)

            I kindly await your response.

          8. bisted

            …ah here McVitty…can you just give kNigel the last word…you know he’s started his recovery…he’s taken the first step – ‘I am Nigel and I’m a commentarian’…only 38 steps to go…

          9. Nigel

            What you said I said: ‘men should pass a watermelon before they express a view on abortion!’

            What I apparently said (genuinely had forgotten this, though, fair play for holding it in the warm soft embrace of your memory): ‘My comment: “All responsibility and blame belong to men now. This is a remarkable achievement in social engineering dressed up as progress”
            Your comment: “Since men won’t be spending nine months growing then pushing a watermelon out between their legs that is absurdly untrue.”’

            Which, for the sake of clarity, is a response to the idea that actually bearing a baby represents whatever percentage of responsibility for a pregnancy that is left over after men have taken 100% of it, not a condition set for expressing a view on the whole issue. In fairness, even if you had accurately characterised the comment I probably still wouldn’t have recalled it, but I knew I’d never said anything to the effect that ‘men can’t express views on abortion,’ watermelon or no watermelon.

            Congratulations. In search of righteous self-justification you went back and found that quote and that link to pwn yourself.

          10. McVitty

            My memory isn’t soft as you suggest – as in, I’m not on here everyday rousing people up. I pick my battles but don’t be so foolish to assume I’m bitter about it. As always, my concern is where power lies and the changes that effect where power flows to – and if it’s flowing to an institution that is likely to abuse it. I know that two wrongs don’t make a right. You can call yourself a “liberal” today but people like you latch onto things. You would have been a great fanatical Catholic back in the 1960’s when the consensus was with it and you got the gratification you are getting at the moment. Maybe you would benefit from a little caution before you jump onto the latest moral bandwagon?

            The very notion that bringing children into this world is akin to passing watermelons shows just how childish you are with all this. With childbearing, I always contended that the responsibility (commitment is a more apt word) of care for a son or daughter is for the next 50 years of your life and is far more weighty than child-bearing but again, the hero doth protest. In my quote, I was referring to the changing rights and responsibilities between the genders in a pregnancy – women have all the rights to abort or keep it and should the decision be made to keep it, it’s none of the man’s business though he is responsible under Irish law.

            Do you recall saying on another (earlier thread) something to the effect of “men lose any right to a say when they decide to have sex”? How “liberal” of you. I could dig that up too if you like but what I am trying to say here kNige is that you truly are a nasty piece of work at times – your empathy invariably falls on one side which makes you a man of highly questionable quantity, both in intellect and in character. Above all, it leads me to wonder how you behave in the company of women #TimesUpkNige – no more bull.

        2. Nigel

          Ha ha you were wrong.
          I never said nothing about you being bitter, but your hypothetical about me in the sixties kinda belies your assurances, You’re concerned about power but you pick your battles – oh yeah, pretty much as I was saying, don’t be so shocked and offended when people notice what battles you keep trying to pick. I know what you were trying to say, isn’t it weird that you got it so wrong when you were characterising my comment? EH? By all means dig it up, you are WAY better at remembering my comments than I am, but not, oddly, the context, and the rest is just blah character assassination. Truly you are a paragon of paradigm rejection.

          1. McVitty

            I find your comments obtuse – are you old or something (maybe a boomer who now stands for the moral good hahaha):
            “Which, for the sake of clarity, is a response to the idea that actually bearing a baby represents whatever percentage of responsibility for a pregnancy that is left over after men have taken 100% of it, not a condition set for expressing a view on the whole issue.”

            You must have had a critical theory lobotomy along the way to be able to dribble in such entangled rhetoric. Again, keep it linear if you can. The sentiment underlying all of my comments is that I do not like concentration of power or group-think and I think subscription is not the best way to get your ideas of how the world is changing.

            You know what kNige, it’s not always about winning….and your opponent is rarely the exact opposite of you but assume away – that’s the easy road and you sir are a weak-minded person…so whatever.

          2. Nigel

            Yes yes you’re selectively concerned about power structures in a way that involves being vague and ominous about the liberal and progressive side of the paradigm you’ve rejected.Are you going to say anything new or is it going to be endless self-justification and insults and complaints that you’re misunderstood?

  3. curmudgeon

    Any chance you could publish a “best of” edit? I realise how much of a pain that is but you’re the best man for it and I’m sure the really were some highlights that deserve not to be lost to time.

  4. Vanessa No More Telly

    Hi everyone
    and thanks for going to the trouble there Neil

    For me there were two great achievements;
    well maybe a third
    First was the show with the working title the Late Eight Debate that ran for almost 3 hours; nowhere, in over 30 years of this debate has there being an exchange and range of voices, backgrounds and opinions. Ye can find it here. Episode 66 clickity click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkKic3-QDCY
    And of course the Christmas Show, e42, and the Christmas do aka Suprise 50th e44

    The second, was how John Ryan segued between the maddest range and span of people ever assembled. And whatever the trolls or the special interests have to say, it worked twenty times more than it failed. John Ryan was the makings of the show.

    Thirdly, and this is nothing to most of ye, but that was me. I never put myself in front of a camera willingly before, you will be hard pressed to find any pics of me before July 2017 that weren’t work portraits or accidental family / friends ones. I was always happy behind the scenes, John Ryan changed that. Earlier this year I was all over the cameras and stage in Dublin Castle. I would never have done that before Broadsheet on the Telly.

    So all the best everyone, and thanks for the support. Both for Myself, The Show and the Frilly Keane Columns over the years

    1. john f

      I sincerely wish you the very best.
      At times some of your views adversely contributed to my receding hairline! But you were always sincere when expressing your views and at the end of the day that’s all anyone can do, that’s all anyone should do.

  5. rotide

    Firstly, Fair play to everyone involved. Everything is worth trying and even if you fail, it’s no waste of time if you learn from it. I thought Neil was the ‘everyman’ representative on the panel and he worked quite well from that aspect but perhaps inevitibly he got sidelined by the more strident panelists.

    Here’s the ‘but’ though. The show didn’t evolve in any meaningful way from EP 1 and it badly badly needed to. Even when Neil brought a semblance of a running order to it by producing it, it didn’t change the fact that far from being an informative panel show, it was basically a pint’s eye view of one of a thousand tiresome pub conversations that happen all around the country every night of the week. There was basically zero opposiing views that stimulated actual discussion. Everyone was broadly on the same page when it came to the big picture and merely disagreed on the finer points (OBVIOUSLY FG are evil and incompetent, we just disagree on HOW evil and HOW incompetant). Clearly this depended on being able to attract other guests to have that alternate point of view but the level of discourse dipped so low and so far into the edges of teenage fight the power territory (Loooking at you Johnny K) that it probably put off a lot of prospective guests. The show clearly favored broadsheet favorites like Gemma OD and gave them the easiest ride possible while giving out about the national broadcaster doing similar out of the other side of the mouth.

    Having said that, I found Lucky interesting and the guy from the Irish World the other week was a step in the right direction. He clearly knew what he was talking about and wasn’t afraid to correct some of the clearly incorrect opionins being aired.

    In terms of technichal standards, the show was CRYING OUT to be edited down to remove the crazier aspects and the huge amount of wasted time of humming and hawing and ‘hello can you hear me’ type of stuff. This style of internet show is not new and not groundbreaking and multiple variations of it happen every week elsewhere on the internet and i got bored of posting links to examples and software that would help. Apart from the format, the basic tech level never progressed. I realise that people are doing it for free but it’s not rocket science. You don’t still write documents in VI or emacs lads.

    Anyway, sorry if that all sounds harsh, but I was geniunely disapointed that the show never really came on to be something that could have a real place in the media landscape in this country. I think the idea still could. I’d be interested to know why production has ceased but it seems noone is saying anything.

  6. Lilly

    I wasn’t a regular but the one I watched from start to finish with Vanessa and John almost coming to televisual blows over Gemma O’D was a riot! I also enjoyed Bernard from the Irish News even if I’m all Brexited out.

    I missed the video of the late Dara Quigley and subsequent furore but wouldn’t have doubted the intentions of BS for an instant after all these years. All in all, well done! It was a really interesting idea and one that will eventually democratise telly.

          1. Papi

            That tiny crack a new book makes when you open it gently and that familiar yet totally unique aroma that softly caresses your memory and your soul and then they throw you out of Waterstones again.

          2. Brother Barnabas

            i’ve never been kicked out of waterstones*. would love to see it happening.

            *i was with a friend once who was approached and asked, “what exactly are you doing?” [he was pulling out little clusters of pubes and placing them between pages in the middle of a pile of cecilia ahern books. i don’t know why]

  7. Hicksonian

    On the money rotide. It started off as a real tonic to the media sludge, but never set out a clear, distinct, agenda setting method. There is a real opportunity here to establish an anti Finucane/Late Debate coven of establishment figures. Thanks for the effort, but without parachuting in an opposing talking head it just seemed to run out of steam. On balance though, it was worth the red eyes in the morning.

  8. Clampers Outside!

    Fair dues Neil, I enjoyed your movie stuff! Many thanks :)

    Hope the comedy and improv stuff is going well for you !

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