The bulk of new production in the September 2011 – March 2012 season at RTÉ is made up of the 19 new indigenous factual series. The factual content varies from the light (a one part observational documentary following Daniel O’Donnell in the lead up to his 50th birthday), to the more serious in tone (a two-part Mary Raferty documentary exploring the history of Irish psychiatric hospitals titled ‘Behind the Walls’).
Timely political and economic factual programming is also provided in a major two-part analysis of Fianna Fáil’s time in power, ‘Fianna Fail’ and ‘Pension Shock – The Future is Now’, which sees former TD George Lee explore the origins of the nation’s pension crisis. An Irish version of the ‘Secret Millionaire’ format is also scheduled, with three very different Irish millionaires going undercover in some of the most disadvantaged parts of Dublin, Cork and Dundalk.
Entertainment programming sees the return of the hugely popular ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ for its second series along with familiar faces Ryan Tubridy and Brendan O’Connor for ‘The Late Late Show’ and ‘The Saturday Night Show’. New Entertainment continues to borrow from successful international talent formats with an Irish version of the US mega hit ‘The Voice’. Comedy appears to act as a balance to the doom and gloom in the 2011/12 Autumn Programming Schedule with comedians PJ Gallagher and Neil Delamere getting their own shows (‘Meet the Gallaghers’ and ‘The Only Viking in the Village’), as well as the return of the fun-loving aliens from the Den, Zig and Zag, as they return to host an hour filled with fun-filled, outrageous, embarrassing and hilarious clips in ‘SuperBloopers’. Two new quiz shows will be aired for light entertainment, with Gráinne Seoige presenting new Sports quiz show ‘Put ‘Em Under Pressure’ and teams of Irish workers (teachers versus taxi drivers, nurses versus firemen) battling it out to find out ‘Who Knows Ireland Best?’
RTÉ Two will have a range of sports coverage including the Rugby World Cup. Home-grown entertainment on RTÉ Two will consist of the Irish incarnation of ‘Masterchef’, a second series of ‘Fade Street’, a Pippa and Brian wedding documentary, Gráinne Seoige’s take on the aspects of women’s lives in modern Irish society and a live chat show with Craig Doyle on Tuesday nights. New series of ‘Republic of Telly’, ‘The Savage Eye’, ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’, ‘ICA Bootcamp’, ‘Baz’s Extreme Worlds’ and the second series of Storyland success ‘The Hardy Bucks’.
The new RTÉ season features over 72 hours of drama between September and March with a return of hit gangland series (this time with six episodes) ‘Love/Hate’ and the fourth instalment of Kitchen based ‘Raw’. Ireland’s soap staple ‘Fair City’ returns for its 23rd season and will continue with four weekly instalments.
In keeping with the success of initiative programming such as ‘Operation Transformation’ and ‘Dirty Old Towns’, a new six part series ‘Local Heroes - A Town Fights Back’ will see entrepreneur and business mentor Fergal Quinn and his team of experts work with the citizens of one Irish town to discover untapped power which can be harnessed when a community pulls together to revitalise its own economy. Speaking at the launch Steve Carson, Director of Programmes said ” Local Heroes aims to mobilise one community to take the future into their own hands, boosting the local economy and providing practical help, advice and inspiration for the whole country. It’s an example of how RTÉ can make a difference by bringing people together.”
RTÉ Lifestyle programmes features new and old series covering everything from crafts (Craft Master), weddings (Franc’s DIY Brides), home design (Room to Improve), home and foreign travel (Francis Brennan’s Grand Tour) and much more.
Young Peoples programming delivers a diverse selection of indigenous and acquired programming, including three new Irish animations (I’m a Monster, The Mad Cows, My Dad’s a Duck) and major animation co-production ‘The Abadas’.
You can’t escape from the Eurovision duo Jedward who are once again hitting RTÉ screens with a new series ‘OMG - Jedward’s Dream Factory’, where they will help make member’s of the public’s dreams come true. Oscar Wilde is updated for 21st century kids with ‘The Importance of Being Whatever’ and young people are challenged in music knowledge gameshow ‘Sing!’ and tests of strength, endurance, agility and attitude in the ‘Ultimate Street Challenge’.
RTÉ has also reaffirmed it’s commitment to the arts with a return of the weekly review and preview show ‘The View’ and a new season of Arts programming that will be announced later in the year.
Speaking at the launch Killane placed a special emphasis on making use of cross platform digital technology to reach audiences and it’s growing significance at the broadcaster saying RTÉ was “making a pledge to make our content more immersive and accessible than ever before through the use of digital technology.”
To view the full Autumn/Winter RTÉ Programme, go to: www.rte.ie/tv/newseason/.