Documentaries of the Summer


There were so many fantastic Irish documentaries over the summer. It was a difficult task to choose but a few from the many that were broadcast during the past few months. From sport to current affairs to music, there was so many to pick from. We have managed to decide on three that we here at MediaHQ feel you need to check out. Here are our picks from Irish documentaries aired this summer:

Rough Rider – RTÉ One

Rough Rider was aired on July 28th and was one of the most talked about television programmes of the summer. Paul Kimmage, former professional cyclist turned journalist, brought the viewer into the world of cycling. It was filmed over two years and followed Kimmage’s journey with his wife Ann, director Adrian McCarthy and crew to the 2013 Tour de France or the ‘What’s Next? Tour’ following Lance Armstrong’s confession. What makes this documentary so different is Kimmage’s relationship with cycling. He loves the sport but also at times hates the sport.

He is an anti-doping advocate and is known as a ‘cycling whistleblower’. He was a professional cyclist and part of Ireland’s ‘golden age of cycling’. He rode next to World Number One, Sean Kelly, and Tour de France winner, Stephen Roche. He raced in three Tour de Frances but in 1989 left the sport. In 1990 he published his first book, ‘Rough Ride’, in which he gave detailed accounts of the drug usage in the professional cycling world. Since then his career has been focused around finding answers to difficult questions about doping in the sport he loves, working as a journalist for various different publications. This documentary is a continuation of this. In 2012 Kimmage was named among the top 10 most influential sportswriters in Britain by the UK Press Gazette.

This is sure to interest anyone with an interest in sport or in the world of doping. Kimmage is very passionate about his cause and this makes for great viewing. There is also an incident at a press conference with Lance Armstrong and Kimmage which is a must see. Paul Kimmage reflects on his life, on professional cycling and his journey throughout the show, a unique insight into the man behind the headlines. Definitely worth a watch.

It is a Wildfire Films/Ergo Films production in association with RTÉ and Bord Scannan na hÉireann/ The Irish Film Board. Directed by Adrian McCarthy. Produced by Martha O’Neill and Tony Whelan.

Info Lady – Documentary on One

This radio documentary is based in Bangladesh and tells the story of the ‘Info Ladies’. Info Ladies are women who travel around the countryside bringing the Internet and other tech services to poor villagers. It’s a rare enough sight to see a woman cycling a bike on her own on the street in Bangladesh but to see one with a laptop attached to it is extremely unique. These women try to help people from poorer areas to learn about the outside world. This is not an easy task for women in Bangladeshi society. Some are verbally abused and it is frowned upon for a woman to cycle around alone, working alone and in charge of themselves. One of the women, Bithy explained, “My mother-in-law had her apprehensions about me cycling around and neighbours would say, ‘why do you want your daughter-in-law to go and work outside, she would go and run away with another man.’

This programme follows two Info Ladies, Beauty Khatun Bithy and Jhorna Aktar. They are from the Gaibandha district of Bangladesh. The local manager of one of the Info Lady projects in Gaibandha, Shahadat Hussein Mondal, and Bithy’s mother-in-law, Anowara also appear on the programme. It follows the work of the women and what they do for their community. Farmers whose crops are damaged by an unfamiliar disease get the Info Lady to Google the problem, this is one of their most popular services. Women whose husbands are working in the Middle East ask the Info Lady to Skype call them. Older people get their blood pressure checked in their homes without having to travel miles to see a doctor. They can carry out discrete pregnancy tests too. Some services are free, others locals have to pay for. This means that the women now can earn their own money. This programme paints an amazing picture of the new lives that these women are creating for themselves and for their community.

It was produced by Ronan Kelly and was broadcast on August 16, 2014.

Garth Brooks: What Went Wrong? – TV3

The Garth Brooks controversy or ‘Garth Gate’, was on the lips of every Irish person this summer, whether they liked it or not.  TV3 were the first to get their teeth into the scandal, producing the documentary almost overnight. TV3 and rival RTÉ both aired documentaries, on the same night, about the concerts that just weren’t meant to be. TV3 however, got in just ahead of RTÉ, airing their show at 9pm on July 22 2014. RTÉ were 35 minutes late with their version ‘Garth Brooks: Tomorrow Never Came’. As TV3 managed to get in there that little bit earlier we have chosen their version as the one to watch, if you haven’t already. Almost 500,000 people watched both programmes and tens of thousands watched the repeat on TV3 the next day..

‘Garth Brooks: What Went Wrong?’ filled viewers in on the chaos that had erupted the days beforehand. The programme spoke to locals and featured all new interviews with Croke Park residents, Aiken Promotions, the GAA and Dublin City Council. The programme tries to find an answer to who is to blame for the embarrassing situation which let down over 400,000 music fans and threw Ireland into the media spotlight worldwide. It also examines the trail of events from the announcement of Brooks’ comeback tour through to the final announcement of ticket refunds and all of the chaos in between. If you still don’t quite understand what the fuss about a couple of concerts was all about, then give this a watch.