Lent vies with profanity for TV coverage

Lent vies with profanity for TV coverage Derry Girls

The onset of Lent usually prompts some extra interest in religion in the media, however short lived.

Ivan Yates had a fairly positive coverage of Ash Wednesday, on his show The Hard Shoulder (Newstalk). He said he had seen lots of people with ashes on their foreheads in Dublin during the day, though roving reporter Henry McKean hadn’t see too many.

McKean described how he had met his wife on a similar outing at Clarendon St Church on Ash Wednesday a few years ago. Yates announced a faith slot, ‘What’s It All About’, for his programme for every Thursday for Lent (good idea) and announced that Archbishop Eamon Martin would be his first guest. He said he wouldn’t be getting into the controversial issues, just talking about the life of Faith.

Soon after, on the News, Newstalk reported positively on a drive-through application of ashes in Galway, and highlighted people being proud to wear the ashes.

That interview with Archbishop Martin was well worth a listen. Yates, from a Church of Ireland background, seemed to be agnostic about religion, but said he was open to persuasion, and sounded particularly interested in what happens after death.

Archbishop Martin, introducing the #livelent initiative for social media, said that in 40 days one could break some bad habits and create some good ones. He spoke of heading for an engineering career but was deeply impressed by Pope St John Paul II’s words to the young people of Ireland during that papal visit, and wanted to follow a path of service to God and his fellow human beings.

He said “I can’t accept emptiness”, had a strong Faith in something beyond this life in line with the age old human yearning.

With regard to Ivan’s curiosity about the next life he said he felt “an eternity of love” and a strong belief that he would be reunited with loved ones.


Archbishop Martin went to school in Derry, and I wonder what he thinks of Derry Girls (Channel 4, Tuesday). Last time around I thought it had potential but was spoiled by the gratuitous profanity and bad language. I had faint hope that the new series would be an improvement, but no, right from the start the language was profane, foul and gratuitously crude.

The sad thing is that it would have been just as funny without it, and could have been a warm but quirky drama most of the family could enjoy. And admittedly it was very funny – this time the girls from the Catholic school in Derry went on a bonding exercise with boys from a Protestant school in in order to build bridges between the communities during The Troubles.

The accompanying nun, Sr Michael, a tough nut seemed to have no time for priests, especially the suave philandering cleric who led the wishy-washy workshops.

Eventually she found common cause with a prim teacher from the Protestant school, a lay woman who couldn’t see the point in getting them together at all.

There was a particularly funny scene where the priest tried to get the youngsters to outline what Catholics and Protestants had in common, but all they could come up with were differences.

Immediately following this, also on Channel 4, there was the first episode of a new comedy series, Home, which I found funnier, more humanly warmer, with much less bad language, though what did feature was still pointless, gratuitous and grating, especially so with a child actor taking a central part.

This one told the story of Syrian refugee Sami, an English teacher who stows away in an English family’s car while they are passing through Calais. When they unpack they get more than they bargained for.

The script is sharp, smart and funny and the characters are likeable, which always helps. The mother is generous and wants to help Sami – at one stage all she has for him is a loyalty card from a coffee shop – if he buys a few more coffees he’ll get a free one!

The mother’s new boyfriend is very suspicious of Sami but he’s also something of a blow-in to the family and after a row ends up sleeping on an adjoining couch to Sami.

There are touching moments as Sami tries to re-connect with his family, lost in transit, and between the many funny situations there are timely reminders of the plight of asylum seekers and reflections on welcoming strangers.


Pick of the Week
EWTN, Saturday, March 16, 10pm, also St Patrick’s Day 5 pm

Fr Nathan Cromly, CSJ and a group of Catholic pilgrims travel to Ireland to walk in the footsteps of St Patrick.

RTE Lyric FM, St Patrick’s Day, 7 am

On the feast day of Ireland’s patron, Vlad explores the pantheon of saints and sinners of Irish early music.

RTÉ1, St Patrick’s Day, 11 am 

From St Patrick’s Church in Strandhill, Co. Sligo. The celebrant is the Very Rev. Canon Niall Ahern with Deacon Rev. Damian Kearns. Music from St Patrick’s Choir, Scoil Ascius Naofa Choir, and traditional group Cairde Knocknarea.