YVONNE GORDON MY VIEW
Television can still have a powerful impact when it’s a genuine, honest moment
Iam not a massive fan of The Late Late Show – or Daniel O’Donnell’s music. It’s not that I dislike either of them particularly, I am just not a ‘devotee’ of them as such — they don’t feature in my world. Like cruises, and elasticated waists,
might save them for when I am older, when I might suddenly start to enjoy them (or at least see the benefits).
However, when I heard about Majella O’Donnell’s moving moment on The Late Late last week ( Majella has just started chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer and had her hair shaved off live on air to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society), I watched it on the RTÉ player. Donations flooded in, raising more than €400,000. A shocked Majella later said she would have been happy to even raise €10,000.
So, with the new series of Love/ Hate on the way ( it’s due to start on Sunday October 6), a new season of Downton Abbey starting tonight and another round of X Factor live finals to come, there is bound to be plenty of drama on the small screen over the winter to keep us amused, entertained and sometimes horrified. There will be a plethora of newspaper headlines and shock revelations to match – all timed perfectly to maximise publicity in the battle for ratings. Still, amid all the drama and hype, there are a few real, rare TV moments that stand out.
Majella’s was one of them. What she went through live on TV was emotional, for her, for the studio audience (who gave her a standing ovation), for viewers. Her bravery, her generosity and her ability to put her own vanity aside and bare all to raise money for charity struck a chord.
We talk about how TV audiences are fragmented, how there are too many reality shows, how the Late Late isn’t what it used to be, how the recession has caused a drop in charity donations... Yet this was one of those moments that got in, past our cynicism and sarcasm, and touched our hearts (even those of us TV critics).
People can get tired of celebrities, talk shows and charity appeals, but they are still ready to respond to the honest, brave actions that stand out from the noise. The eagerly awaited new series – the fourth – gets off to a sombre start, with Lady Mary struggling to come to terms with widowhood and with having to bring up baby George without a father. Also reeling from the death of Matthew is his mother, Isobel, who now feels that she has no role in life. With Robert and Violet disagreeing on how to bring Lady Mary back to ‘the land of the living’, Carson tries a direct approach – with surprising results. Below stairs, Jimmy finally takes an interest in Ivy, Thomas is up to his old tricks, Carson encounters an unwelcome face from the past – and Mrs Hughes sees an opportunity to help the grief-stricken Isobel. Meanwhile, things are most definitely hotting up between Lady Edith and Gregson (Laura Carmichael and Charles Edwards, above) – even though he’s still married. What is she thinking of?