The impact of TG4’s bold new commissioning strategy is clearly evident in the 2019 Spring Schedule on the national Irish language channel.
As part of the innovative approach developed by the new Director General, Alan Esslemont after his appointment in 2016, eight independent companies were awarded multiannual content production contracts. This has enabled those companies to employ staff on a more permanent basis, invest in equipment and develop longer term plans from a programming perspective. This initiative helps to put the Irish language audiovisual sector, particularly in the Gaeltacht areas and the regions, on a much sounder footing. It is estimated that over 770 people are employed as a result of TG4’s overall investment in the audiovisual sector.
Speaking today on the launch of the new season, TG4 Director General, Alan Esslemont, said:
‘TG4 is investing around €62m, over a four year period in these companies as part of this major procurement initiative and there is no doubt that the fruits of this collaboration can be clearly seen in programmes included in our new Spring Schedule. Supporting these companies is key to developing the sector, placing an emphasis on high quality employment for Irish speakers, whilst making substantial investment in the regions and Gaeltacht areas. This constitutes programming from the community, for the community. I believe it’s another great example of TG4’s ‘Súil Eile’ or ‘alternative approach’ ethos’.
The 2019 Spring Season on TG4 features a broad range of programmes developed as part of the new strategy.
As ever, there is a very strong tranche of documentary programmes featured, including:
- An Balla– In a compelling series, presenter Síle Nic Chonaonaigh explores four of the world’s most iconic walls and borders – US/Mexico, Berlin, Korea and Israel-Palestine. Each episode uncovers the human stories behind these walls. Stories about hope and unity in the face of division, and about the triumph of the human spirit in spite of separation.
- Na Bailte– Irish townlands are at the heart of this series. There are over 60,000 of them in Ireland, our smallest and most constant administrative unit. It is hard to explain the extraordinary link between the Irish people and their home place, but that is exactly the challenge that this new series undertakes.
- Bádóirí– An the western edge of Europe, lies an unique culture that depended and fought with the Atlantic Ocean for thousands of years. It is the native sailboat, the Galway Hooker, that sustained this poorest of communities. In this series, seven families of these workhorse boats, some 160 years old, share the same ancient traditions and the love of competition of the Ireland’s most native and pure culture.
- Truckers na hÉireann– This new four part series gives a unique insight into the world of Irish truckers. Who’s behind the wheel? What is his/her story? What are they hauling? And where will the next port of call be?
- Síolscéalta– Aonghus Eoin Ó Coistealbha takes us on a journey to prove that growing organic vegetables on a small scale for a local market really can change the world
- Taoide/Tide– A rich and sweeping exploration into the stories and the science behind the most mysterious, primal, and powerful force on earth: the tide. Presented by MacDara Ó Cuaig.
We can also look forward to a number of fascinating sports documentaries which are to be screened this Spring on TG4 as well:
- Ár gClub–The local club is the building block that makes the GAA the huge success it is. This series goes behind the scenes in a number of local GAA clubs, to give us an entertaining insight into the characters, trials and drama that happen both off the pitch and on.
- Laochra Gael– Another season of the series which gives us an in-depth insight into the lives of some of our greatest exponents of Gaelic games. Featured this season are – Séamus Darby, Jackie Tyrell, Rena Buckley, Kieran Duff, Andrew O’Shaughnessy and Colm Cooper
- Mianach na mBan (Women in Sport) – a three part series in which Aoife Ní Chasaide traces the progression made by women in all areas sport. Renowned female sports stars featured include Dame Mary Peters, Katie Taylor, Sonia O’Sullivan and Derval O’Rourke.
- Jump Girls– Horse riding is the only sport where women and men compete against each other and national hunt racing is one of the most physically demanding and dangerous sports in the world. This major documentary series follows well known Irish female jockeys as they compete throughout the national hunt season. Katie Walsh, Nina Carberry, Rachael Blackmore and others included.
TG4 has gained international recognition for broadcasting top quality musical programmes. You can find even more of these on the channel again this Spring:
- Gradam Ceoil TG4 2019– This year’s Gradam Ceoil TG4 2019 will be presented at a gala concert from Belfast’s Waterfront Hall on Sunday 17th February, which will be broadcast live on TG4. This year, flute player from County Meath, Catherine McEvoy, will be presented with traditional music’s highest accolade, Musician of the Year.
- Glór Tíre– The country music talent show returns to the Quays in Galway as the hunt for Ireland’s best country talent continues. With help from Ireland’s biggest country music stars, six contestants battle it out. They will have Jimmy Buckley, Johnny Brady, Mike Denver, Ciarán Rosney, Gerry Guthrie and Michael English as mentors.
- Ceol ón Chlann–A music documentary series which goes home with some of Ireland’s most talented musical families to look at their music and heritage, featuring the likes of the Gavins, the Henry Girls and Clann Mhic Ruairi.
- Doolin Folk Festival – Music from the the fifth year of the Doolin Folk Festival, which is going from strength to strength and is attended by the cream of the crop of traditional and folk musicians. Paul Brady, Lúnasa, Luka Bloom, Susan O’Neill, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Martin Hayes, Steve Cooney and many more.
- Celtic Connections– Highlights of the best from the renowned world music festival in Glasgow, presented by Donal O’Connor. Music from Ireland, Scotland and all the other Celtic nations.
- Music films– You can also see a season of top quality concerts and music documentaries on a Sunday nights on TG4 as well, featuring stars such as Carole King, Brian Kennedy, Annie Lennox, Rolling Stones Live, Nina Simone, Robbie Williams, Boomtown Rats & Rory Gallagher
TG4 always has the best of Irish sport as well and this Spring is no different. You can look forward to:
- Rugbaí Beo– watch the best ‘free to air’ games and coverage from the Guinness Pro 14 rugby, as the competition draws to it’s dramatic conclusion.
- GAA 2019 –Allianz League– Comprehensive coverage of both football and hurling leagues
- Club Finals– Watch the final stages of the club championships in both hurling and football
- Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta– Live coverage from the Dingle peninsula of this inter-Gaeltacht football competition which celebrates it’s 50th year this year
- Live Basketball– Coverage of the Men’s and Women’s National Cup Finals 2019
You can expect plenty of fun and entertainment as well, from programmes such as:
- Beidh Aonach Amárach– a brand new series featuring Ireland’s Country shows begins with Finn Valley in County Donegal.
- Comhrá– The legendary Máirtín Tom Sheáinín returns with a new series of the extremely popular chat show where he interviews special guests in his own inimitable style
- Léirmheas Leabhar– The monthly literary and review programme presented by Tristan Rosenstock which focusses on newly produced material in Irish as well as giving an insight into the world of publishing and literary events for young and older readers
- Seal le Daithí– the popular series in which Daithí Ó Sé interviews interesting characters from the Irish speaking community across the country
- Réalta & Gaolta– Hosted by Síle Seoighe, the search for Ireland’s most talented family is on! This all singing, dancing and music talent search show will take one Irish family from the sitting room to the national stage.
TG4 also look after younger viewers with a whole range of fun programming on Cúla4 & Cúla4 na nÓg:
Including newly commissioned programmes such as –
- Ár Scéal– Presenter Úna Ní Fhlatharta visits primary schools nationwide to collect their stories. Úna and the children take inspiration from specific stories and have great fun creating artistic works based on different aspects of them.
- Whiz sa Chistin– a new series of the game show based around food where each week four children test their skills in the kitchen by completing fun food challenges and answering questions.
- Is Mise– An observational series where we follow four young people – Ríona from Galway, Joey from Donegal, Róisín from Kerry and Cóil from Galway, as they embark on exciting new adventures in each programme, with activities including sailing, horseriding, dancing, going to the dentist, baking and much more
- You can see new cartoons on screen such as Rita & Crogall and School of Roars. And all the animated favourites are returning as well, including new episodes with Spongebob, Horrid Henry, Angelo. Not to mention other programmes the kids love such as Is Eolaí Mé, U.B., Dochreidte gan Dabht and the cartoon legends Cat in the Hat, Bubu, Kazoops, Dot, Alvin, Harvey Beaks, Camp Lakebottom & Zak Jinks.
- And for the teenagers Lurgan 2K18 continues, an entertainment series for young people featuring new videos from ‘TG Lurgan’ and the highly talented students that take part in them.
You can be guaranteed comprehensive news and current affairs coverage on TG4 as well nightly on Nuacht TG4 as well as from the weekly current affairs programme 7 Lá.
And, we’ll have plenty of drama from the residents of Ros na Rún. Berni’s mother comes to visit, but she is worried that not all is well with her. And, a dodgy character is back in Ros na Rún so a few people may well be in danger! Dee seeks revenge on her sister Katy. Will she succeed?
We also have a host of top quality drama series’ and films for you to enjoy on TG4, including:
- The Bridge– the fourth seires of this chilling Danish ‘Scandi-noir’ series
- Orange is the New Black– the multi award winning series, which sees well to do, professional woman, Piper Chapman, imprisoned for a historical drugs crime, with a motley crew of inmates in a womens prison, comes to TG4
- The Sinner– the highly acclaimed mystery series, starring Jessica Biel, where an unassuming housewife violently stabs a beachgoer to death sparking an investigation by local police and sudden confusion in a small town.
- Survivor– the highly popular adventure competition returns for another action packed series
You can sit back and enjoy great movies as well:
- Scannán na Seachtaine– Mondays @ 9.30 – titles such as – Schindler’s List, the Green Zone, The Constant Gardener, The Kite Runner, 28 Days Later, the Social Network, Burn After Reading, Little Miss Sunshine and Phone Booth
- Western an Aoine(Friday) – classics like Shane, True Grit (2010), San Antone, Pony Express, The War Wagon, Stagecoach, Cat Ballou and Gallipoli
- Scannán an tSathairn (Saturday) – The Life Before Her Eyes(le Uma Thurman), Revolutionary Road, Blades of Glory (le Will Ferrell), 500 Days of Summer, One Fine Day, The Squid and the Whale & 27 Dresses
- Irish Films– In March host of Irish films will be showcased on TG4, including Pilgrim Hill, The Tailor of Panama, Rory O’Shea Was Here (Inside I’m Dancing), Silence, Glassland, When Brendan Met Trudy, Jump, Mickybo and Me, The Lilac Bus and more
You can find more information on the schedule and individual programmes at www.tg4.ie.
(Photo: Alan Esselemont (Director General TG4) at the TG4 Studios in Ballinahown, Co. Galway. Photographer: Michael Dillon)