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RTÉ One plans Dedicated Arts Coverage for Spring Season
13 Feb 2014 : Deirdre Molumby
'Dolores Keane: Stories from the Heart'
Following on from the success of ‘Play Next Door’, RTÉ One intends to continue covering the arts by broadcasting arts programming and scheduling it into peak-time slots. The changes will be instigated for the channel’s spring season.

Three-part arts series ‘Play Next Door’ (see more on the show here) saw Irish writers imbedded in a rural community and produce a play based on their experiences there. The show had impressive ratings with an average of 235,000 across the three episodes and a 17% audience share mark for both the first part of the documentary and the second part of the show which consisted of the filmed play that the writers wrote.

As part of the new Arts strategy for RTÉ One, ‘The Works’ will be moved into a new peak-time slot at 8.30pm on RTÉ One from Friday 14th February when the series resumes. The channel will also air a number of new arts documentaries which include ‘Outsider’, ‘Dolores Keane: Stories from the Heart’ and ‘The Stranger’.

Sarah Ryder, Executive Producer of Arts at RTÉ Television, has said, “Arts programming is central to the RTÉ One offering: culture is a core part of our DNA as a nation, and it is our job as Ireland’s national broadcaster to reflect that.”

Sarah continued, “The new peak-time slot for ‘The Works’ is the next step in a raft of new arts initiatives that will be rolled out across 2014 on RTÉ One, which began with a major original Irish arts format, ‘Play Next Door’, in January and will culminate in a number of major Arts documentaries in prime time slots autumn 2014. The overwhelmingly positive reaction to ‘Play Next Door’ has been a great start, and we are hoping that audiences will embrace ‘The Works’ in its new slot just as enthusiastically.”

A new documentary called ‘Outsider’ will air later in the spring. It explores the worlds of ex-prisoners and now respected artists, Eddie Cahill and Frank “Lucas” Quigley. The documentary examines the events that drove them to crime, and shows how meeting the internationally-acclaimed Irish artist Brian Maguire in Portlaoise prison would take them down a different, better path.

The documentary uses archive, newspaper cuttings and the men’s personal photographs to tell the story of the three men’s parallel lives, culminating to their major art exhibitions in 2014. It is directed by Mark McLoughlin of Bangbangteo Films.

‘Dolores Keane: Stories from the Heart’ is another upcoming documentary. It is about the Irish singer Dolores Keane whose life was overshadowed for many years as she struggled with alcoholism and depression. Now she is prepared to take a look back at her life so far. Using never-before-seen archive, as well as specially-recorded performance and interviews with Dolores, the documentary was produced by Scratch Films for RTE Arts.

Scratch Films’ previous credits include TV comedy series ‘Naked Camera’ and documentary ‘Blood of the Travellers’, both IFTA winners. The founder of Scratch, Liam McGrath, was the director-producer of ‘Dolores Keane’, working with the cinematographer Ronan Fox and editor Oliver Fallon to make the documentary. McGrath has said of his aspiration for the film, “we hope the film will reignite an interest, an understanding and an appreciation for Dolores.”

‘The Stranger’ has also been announced as a part of RTÉ One’s new dedicated arts programming. In 1990, the body of a man in his 40s was found on the island of Inishbofin, Donegal. Neal McGregor’s body was discovered in a derelict chicken shed with little else but a load of beautiful art that included drawings of birds, illustrated diaries, and etchings of a lobster, a seagull, and a fish on the stone walls.

Using the art as well as archive, old home movie footage and testimonies from those who knew him, director Neasa Ní Chianáin pieces together the story of this enigmatic artist and the mystery of his death. Ní Chianáin's previous documentaries include ‘Fairytale of Kathmandu’ and 'Frank Ned & Busy Lizzie'. She is the director of production company Soilsiu Films, the production company behind ‘The Stranger’, and is also co-founder and programmer of the Guth Gafa Film Festival.

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