TV & Radio

High drama and heated debates
Some of the cast of Line of Duty.

It was a week of high drama, in reality and in fiction. The absorbing crime drama Line of Duty came to the end of its fourth series on BBC 1 last Sunday night and what an impact! This show has been consistently the best crime drama that I’ve seen on TV in the last few years – best for intricate plotting, engaging characterisation and a winning combination of consistency and unpredictability. 

Filmed in Northern Ireland, it centres on an anti-corruption unit investigating ‘bent coppers’, but it rarely goes smoothly and the twists and turns are enthralling. It’s adult material but rarely if ever graphic or prurient. That final episode contained startling revelations, some of which, I must admit, I didn’t see coming. 

Less engaging is clerical crime drama Grantchester, back on ITV Sunday nights and be3 on Mondays. Now in its third season, it’s creaking more than a tad. 

The friendship between Rev. Sidney and the copper Geordie is interesting but unlikely – would the policeman really take the Rev on all his murder cases, and really, aren’t there too many murders in such an otherwise idyllic town? 

His crusty housekeeper is softening, his gay curate is gaining in maturity and common sense, but there must be something weird in the water. At least there was in the beer in last Sunday’s episode which featured a mass poisoning at a cricket match, some ugly racism, pertinent reflections on male-female relationships and a gratuitous sex scene.  

Meanwhile, the hospital and abortion dramas continued. On Liveline (RTÉ Radio 1), Tuesday of last week, presenter Joe Duffy featured soft interviews with members of the Citizens’ Assembly, one very positive about it and one fairly positive but who felt at times intimidated and rushed during its deliberations. 

However I thought he was, relatively, overly challenging to those who questioned whether that body was representative. My predecessor in this slot, Brendan Conroy, raised this issue but was outed, shock horror, as “also involved in various groups”, and good grief, the husband of Breda O’Brien.


On Tuesday’s Prime Time Dr Peter Boylan said that a “substantial” amount of the work at the National Maternity Hospital fell into the controversial category where there would be issues with Catholic teaching. And there was I thinking that the work mostly involved bringing babies into the world and saving the lives of mothers and babies where there were medical difficulties. 

By the Thursday morning, when interviewed on The Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk) “substantial” had changed to “significant”. Dr Boylan spoke of it being a tragedy if the new hospital is “given away”, but there was no sense of the tragedy if the new hospital carries out abortions in the event of a change in the law.

On The Late Debate (RTÉ Radio 1) on the Tuesday night, Mick Barry TD (AAA & Socialist Party) spoke about women being “forced” to go abroad for an abortion, but thankfully panellist Keith Mills interjected that they didn’t have to go – they chose to go. 

On the same show on the Wednesday night, Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty International was bemused that he found himself agreeing with David Quinn on some aspects of the hospital issue, but the expected sparks between them came instead from panellist Elaine Byrne, who went so far over the top in her fulminating against  mess-ups over so many infrastructure projects in Ireland and against parish pump politics that presenter Cormac Ó hEadhra threated to throw her out of the studio if she didn’t pipe down! I did like her comment that we suffer from “reportitis”.

If you wanted a positive example of Catholic-ethos health care, Tonight With Vincent Browne (TV3), also on the Tuesday night, was the one to watch. First off there was an engaging interview with Sr Consilio about her work with those suffering from addiction. When the topic moved on to current controversies Krysia Lynch, of The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services, started with an unwarranted  assumption – “I represent the women of Ireland” and when Browne challenged negative characterisations of Catholic-ethos healthcare she responded with an anecdote about symphysiotomy! 

Sr Consilio thought it was not advisable for people with different values to be involved in such a serious matter as a maternity hospital. She valued the gift of life, and said it was “unthinkable” that any child should be deprived of their right to life. 


Pick of the week


RTĖ One, Sunday, May 7, 11am
Fr Willie Purcell delivers today’s Mass with a congregation and singing from The National Vocations Council, Co. Kilkenny.

Who Runs Our Schools? A Would You Believe? Special

RTĖ One, Sunday, May 7, 10.35pm
How the changing face of belief in Ireland is affecting our predominantly Catholic primary school system.  
Catholic View for Women
EWTN, Monday, May 8, 8am, also Wednesday, 2.30pm and 10.30pm
Radical feminist Sue Ellen Browder shares how her traumatic abortion and a merciful encounter with the Catholic Church changed her mindset.