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RTE under fire over Des Bishop show
Depiction of Waterford was very negative, says Edel Dooley of Beat FM.
Colm O Hare, 20 Feb 2004
TE has come under fire for what some have described as a one-sided portrayal of the behaviour of young people in Waterford city.
The accusations came about following a recent edition of the Network 2 series The Des Bishop Work Experience. The fly-on-the-wall documentary series chronicles the Irish American stand-up comedian’s experiences as he takes up a succession of minimum wage jobs around Ireland.
The programme in question centred on the Abrakebabra fast food restaurant on John St. in the centre of the city where Bishop worked a 39-hour a week shift last summer. It focused heavily on the late-night antics of the rowdy (and clearly under-the weather) customers of the restaurant, as they poured in from nearby pubs and nightclubs to demand their “food fix”.
Some locals have argued that the programme depicted Waterford’s youth in a deliberately and unfairly negative light. Edel Dooley, presenter of Irish Beat, the weekend Irish music show on Beat 102-103 FM told hotpress that she was ‘baffled’ by it.
“Everybody in the film seemed to be extremely aggressive towards each other and very rude to the staff working in the restaurant,” Dooley commented. “I just don’t think Waterford people are that aggressive. Maybe at two in the morning it’s kind of representative of what can go on, some of the time. But it seemed very negative to me.”
The fact that a particular incident can be given such prominence, to the exclusion of all of the ordinary moments in which people get on with things without rancour or rudeness is also a source of local grievance.
“You also have to take into account the fact that the restaurant is located at the junction of four streets, where there are about six nightclubs,” Edel Dooley added.
A spokesperson for RTE defended the show describing it as, ‘reality TV with a hard-hitting but humorous social conscience’. “This is no po-faced documentary series,” the spokesperson insisted, “It’s a highly-charged look at what it’s really like to live on the edge in 21st century Ireland.”
Others in the entertainment business in Waterford felt that it was an accurate portrayal of a typical night-out in the city. Billy Lynch of Waterford band The Real described it as “embarrassing”.
“I was cringing while I was watching it,” he says. “The people shown certainly weren’t full of love for each other. But the camera doesn’t lie and I guess we’re not at our prettiest at 3am. I can’t offer any excuse. It’ s endemic in our society, not just in Waterford. People like to think that Ireland is becoming a more sophisticated place but this proved otherwise.”
The Des Bishop Work Experience goes out on Mondays on Network 2 at 10pm