YVONNE GOR­DON MY VIEW

Tele­vi­sion can still have a pow­er­ful im­pact when it’s a gen­uine, hon­est mo­ment

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FOOD & DRINK -

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?

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