RTE today launched its new season of programming across both RTE One and RTE Two. Focusing not only on Autumn 2015, but also a look into early 2016. Competition for Irish audiences has been fierce in 2015, driven mainly by the arrival of UTV Ireland on January 1st. Pressure and eyes focused distinctly on RTE and TV3e as their audience profile mirrored that of UTV Ireland. Fortunately for the State broadcaster they have triumphed and held strong on their core audiences, consistently delivering programming that outperforms the competition.
RTE One controller Adrian Lynch has boldly stated “we’re going to see more new series than we’ve seen in any of the previous 5 or 6 years”. With a massive 53 new titles coming to our screens this Autumn/Winter, it is clear investment and innovation has been effectively deployed. With stellar dramas such as Love/Hate and Charlie under their belt, they are becoming a contender on an international stage. While the final episode of Love/Hate aired last year, RTE One are adamant they will continue to invest in world class drama. Early Autumn will air their next major dram. Clean Break, a 4-part series set in a Wexford town, centres on the tiger kidnapping of a bank manager and his family. The plot is set in recessionary times in middle Ireland. Coming in at 2 episodes shorter than a series of Love/Hate, the topic of the program is bound to prove appealing across all sectors of society. Having been privy to an early screening of episode 1, we can safely say it has our interest.
The second major launch will be Rebellion, a drama based on the lead up to the 1916 rising. It will focus on the lives of five 24 year olds with Season 1 looking at events between 1914 and 1916. It will launch in early January. Lynch was keen to point out the potential for additional seasons of the program that will extend beyond 1916 and potentially up to modern day Ireland. With the centenary of the 1916 rising fast approaching, this will no doubt be a popular choice, but one we’ll have to wait until January to see. Brian Gleeson and Charlie Murphy star alongside other young Irish talent.
Documentaries appear to be another strong pillar in the upcoming RTE 1 schedule. Lynch is adamant these documentaries only “scratch the surface” in a response to satisfy the public’s appetite for real subjects. Documentary highlights include: The Recruits (a look at what it takes to become an army recruit), Hidden Impact (analysis of what a concussion from rugby does to the body), Ireland’s Super Rich (David McWilliams’ take on the lifestyles of Ireland’s top earners), The Boston Nanny (a look at the trial of Irish nanny, Aisling McCarthy Brady) and Murder in Melbourne (focus on the murder of Jill Meagher in Melbourne). RTE Investigates will also return to our screens with one show granting access all areas to sectors of the HSE. We can’t help but be impressed by the gravity and intrinsically Irish nature of such titles.
The weekend on RTE 1 is clearly positioned to entertain. Ray D’Arcy will return to our screens on Saturday nights, replacing what was Brendan O’Connor’s Saturday Night Show. The name and format of Ray’s show is still to be revealed, but it will launch in Sept. Mario Rosenstock moves channels with a new home on RTE 1, Sunday night at 9.30pm.
The new season of TV on RTE One will also see the return of many favourites such as Ireland’s Fittest Families, Mrs Brown’s Boys and The Late Late Show. The will also be some new additions on the entertainment side, with behind-the-scenes shows such a Week to My Wedding, and Garda Down Under ; a look at the lives of an Irish couple in the run up to their wedding, and the life of Irish guards in Australia respectively.
We are confident Irish audiences will be impressed by both the range and substance of the new schedule. This is comforting to know in a time where TV spends climb and audiences choose content over channels.
When it comes to RTE Two, Bill Malone assures us that the focus of the schedule will be to deliver a ‘strong, credible, and potent’ channel for 15-34s. Quality home programming will be critical in terms of enticing this fickle audience to the station. However, what they have been doing in the last 12 months seems to be working, with the station growing share for the 15-34 audience across a number of key programming segments. This is in the absence of a major sporting tournament, namely the World Cup.
‘Real lives, real stories, real jeopardy’, those are the genres that RTE Two will focus with their programming in the upcoming season. First Dates, the series that took off on Channel4 this year has been commissioned by RTE Two for an Irish audience, and will follow a number of Irish couples as they navigate their way through their first meeting. Après Match of the Day will see the trio return to the screen in their first proper series of their 20-year history together. Bridget & Eamonn, of Republic of Telly fame, get their own series for the first time, while the ever-popular Republic of Telly will return for another season. Vogue William’s will make a return to screens with Vogue’s Mean Girls, while Baz Ashmawy will look at what it means to be Muslim in the current environment in Baz’s Jihad. Bressie will see in a comeback in this season, not only in The Voice, but also in Bressie’s Ironmaid.
Programs returning for another season include Homeland, Hardy Bucks Ride Again, Don’t Tell the Bride, Meet the McDonaghs, and Vikings. The Reality Bites series will also return but as a more robust, longer-term series with each episode having a different focus.
While the channel will no doubt be hit by the loss of rights to this year’s Rugby World Cup in September and October, there’s still a sport focus on RTE Two with GAA, Champions League and Euro 2016 Qualifiers in the upcoming season. Malone is confident that the Rugby World Cup won’t have any major effect on the schedule. However it will be 2016 with World Cup qualifiers, 6 Nations, the Olympics and Paralympics before the stations really see their sport credentials come to the fore again.
All in all a very positive platform for the commercial landscape and viewing public alike. It would appear RTE have straddled their public service manifesto and ability to deliver popular content like never before.