Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Missing Persons in Montrose - Send for the I-Team!

Pat Kenny chilling in the sunshine o Gorse Hill yesterday. Or close enoughThe high incidence of missing persons in the vicinity of Donnybrook, Dublin 4, is becoming of grave concern to that keen advocate of value for money, An Spailpín Fánach.

Ryan Tubridy is not presenting the Ryan Tubridy Show on the radio, even though we, the taxpayers, are paying him €346,667 per annum to do just that. Dave Fanning is presenting it instead.

The €849,139 Pat Kenny pulls down per annum isn’t enough to keep him away from the beach with his bucket and spade in these lazy, hazy days of summer. Myles Dungan is covering for him there. Ronan Collins is having his disks spun by Lorcan Murray. Joe Duffy is enjoying spending his €367,804 on his holidays while the misfortunate Damien O’Reilly has to listen to the cranks giving out about skies that are too blue or rain that’s too wet on Liveline in his stead.

Marian Finucane is paid €455,190 a year to present two two-hour shows a week, which doesn’t explain while Rachel English is currently doing it for her instead.

These figures are from 2006, so it’s possible that the RTÉ stars mentioned are actually pulling down more than this. It can be tricky to squeeze the full facts from RTÉ in the matter.

RTÉ justifies the huge wedge they sign over on the basis that the station can’t do without the top flight presenters, but it very clearly can. It’s doing so right now. The likes of Tubridy and Kenny will be on their hols until September, a good six weeks, considerably longer than the average working stiff gets. Factor in the full week at Christmas, a week at Easter and other bank holidays and you begin to realise that these jokers are taking the pish in a big way.

Is there anyone that RTÉ can send to get them to mend their ways, and maybe put down a few more days, just to take the bad look off it, like? Is there any sort of Justice League to be formed that will make these people earn their money?

Well, funnily enough, there is, and the recruits are already on the RTÉ payroll themselves.

Prior to this year, the role of the TV license inspector was a little understood one. Now, thanks to the revolutionary series of ads on the telly and radio, we realise that one of Elliot Ness’ Untouchables of gangster-era Chicago would only be in the ha’penny place with an RTÉ TV licence inspector.

The RTÉ TV license inspector is no ordinary chicken. He needs the infinite patience and interrogation technique of spymaster George Smiley to find out from the office staff desperately trying to keep schtum just exactly to whom the licence for the kitchen portable must be made out. He needs the bravery of Bulldog Drummond, heedless of danger in the lair of evil Carl Peterson. And as for sheer brain wattage – well, even Sherlock Holmes himself would spit his briar pipe and concede he’d met the better man when the polyglot license inspector meets some recidivists and addresses each in his own native tongue – cleverly calling the bluff of the Jamaican by pointing out that English is the lingua franca of that Caribbean paradise, the moment that elevates this vignette to the sublime. Like Yogi, the TV license inspector is clearly no ordinary bear.

A platoon of Hercules Poirots would be swept before these supermen as dust before the broom, but their talents are wasted collecting a license fee that is wasted if presenters don’t present. Therefore, An Spailpín implores Minister for Energy, Communications and Natural Resources, Mr Eamon Ryan, TD, to enact legislation that will allow an A-Team – or I-Team, if you like - of crack TV-license inspectors to be recruited and trained into becoming TV and Radio Presenter Inspectors. From their secret base upstairs in Kiely’s they will then move all over the globe, feeling collars of peripatetic presenters from Bangkok to Bundoran, clapping them in irons and bringing them back alive.

The Irish nation demands and deserves Joe Duffy back in studio four at a quarter to two every weekday, the ball and chain around his dainty ankle, and a TV license inspector in the corner keeping an eye on him, just in case. Joe will sing for his supper then, by jingo.

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