Hard to grow to like ITV’s latest Wild Bill

Hard to grow to like ITV’s latest Wild Bill Rob Lowe stars in Wild Bill (ITV/VIrgin Media One).

I find it hard to enjoy TV dramas if there isn’t someone to ‘root’ for, if there aren’t sympathetic characters.

And so I have mixed feelings about Wild Bill (ITV and Virgin Media One).  It’s a crime thriller with an American cop taking over a UK police department, ironically in the English town of Boston, Lincolnshire. Cue some predictable cultural differences with mild comic effect. Played by US actor Rob Lowe (comical in Parks and Recreation) Bill Hixon is a cranky enough cop, not strong on social skills and not popular as he has the task of effecting redundancies.

There’s some gratuitous, though infrequent, bad language and his affair with a local judge stretches credulity. All that being said, the crime stories are well plotted, there’s a dedicated police woman who has some difficult moral dilemmas, the minor characters are well drawn but most of all the show has a warm humanity at its heart. In the latest episode (ITV Wednesday, Virgin Media One Monday) a criminal has turned his life around and retreated to a Jesuit institution to make a new life. But he has left a daughter behind and the story of their relationship is ultimately quite touching.

Likewise there’s a prickly but interesting relationship between the chief and his teenage daughter – she is coping with a new school and life without her mother who has died, and he is having trouble coping with her. Curiously in that episode the Jesuit institution has a sign outside ‘No women beyond this point’ which I thought to be anachronistic. A Jesuit source tells me such a sign would never appear on any of their houses.

Back in real life there was a lot of concern during the week about greyhound welfare (as there was the previous week about minks). This was prompted by RTE Investigates: Greyhounds Running for Their Lives last Wednesday on RTÉ1, which outlined ‘barbaric and horrific’ treatment of these animals.

Now that’s fair enough and it’s a sign of civilisation that we want to ensure high standards of animal welfare and recoil at the idea of cruelty to animals. However, I couldn’t help being puzzled by how much media and political outrage there was about these abuses, and it included the killing of unwanted greyhounds, where the ongoing killing of unwanted unborn human babies continues apace with no media outrage at all. Double standards or what! RTÉ News last Thursday reported that having seen clips from the show Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD expected to be ‘very angry’ when he saw the full programme – but where is his anger at the abortions going on in our maternity hospitals of all places? What kind of society have we become when we seem more appalled by cruelty to animals than to living unborn children?


Well, you couldn’t help but notice it was Pride Week, what with LGBT themes on buses, post boxes, garda cars and umpteen commercial premises. On last Saturday’s Breakfast Show on Newstalk, Inspector Paul Franey enthused about the fact that gardaí in uniform were to take part in the Pride parade. Predictably it was a soft interview, but there were issues of appropriateness that could have been raised.

Private businesses can support whatever causes they like, within the law, but one could reasonably argue that it’s crossing a line when the agents of the state promote a particular political agenda.

Likewise RTÉ was in celebratory and uncritical mode – questionable for a state broadcaster – check out for example last weekend’s discussion of on Saturday with Cormac O hEadhra (RTÉ Radio 1) when we were told that RTÉ was actually taking part in the parade.

How would it be received if gardaí in uniform marched in this weekend’s Rally for Life? Or if pro-life slogans were plastered on post boxes and even the GPO? Personally I think that State bodies should be scrupulously neutral – they are supported by all tax payers and citizens. When the gardaí in particular become partisan there’s a serious issue for society.

On that Breakfast Show presenter   noted that a different group of LGBT activists were holding an ‘alternative pride parade’, so obviously not even all campaigners are behind this new commodification of the LGBT brand.

Those welcoming all this may think again when the next agenda supported by the organs of the state isn’t to their liking.


Pick of the Week
RTÉ1 and RTÉ Radio 1, Sunday, July 7, 11 am

How faith moves and inspires, challenges and sustains people in today’s Ireland, with readings and music.

EWTN, Monday, July 8, 6.30 am

Music from the Carlow Choir of Alexandria, Louisiana, performing in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

EWTN Wednesday, July 10, 11 am

Philosophy Prof. Dr Theresa Farman contrasts the Catholic Church’s efforts towards assisting people with disabilities with that of the state’s.