Irish women and original drama take centre stage in RTÉ's new schedule line-up

The national broadcaster has announced 65 home-produced programmes for the forthcoming TV season


'Can't Cope, Won't Cope' stars Nika McGuigan and Séana Kerslake [Karl Hussey, Photographer, Dublin]

With the European football and the Olympic Games put to bed for another four years, new gaps have opened up in our TV schedules. As summer comes to an end and the longer nights of winter are on the horizon, RTÉ has just unveiled the details for its upcoming season, with more than 65 home-produced shows hoping to tempt viewers back from streaming services and foreign media.

The news that the national broadcaster had dumped The Voice in favour of Dancing with the Stars had already made headlines, but original drama is also taking centre stage in the new line-up. For Autumn/Winter 2016/2017, RTÉ is making its biggest investment in original drama in six years. The station will bring us Acceptable Risk, a six-part thriller starring Elaine Cassidy (The Paradise, Disco Pigs, Felicia’s Journey), and Resistance, a War of Independence drama and follow-up to the 1916 Rising-set Rebellion which aired earlier this year – and which has just been sold to Netflix.

It’s set to be a bumper period for Amy Huberman, the actress and writer, who will appear in two different dramas. First up is Striking Out, co-starring Rory Keenan and Neil Morrissey, set in the Irish legal system. Then Huberman takes on a supporting role in Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope, a darkly comic look at post-Celtic Tiger Ireland starring Seána Kerslake, who is about to make it big starring as the titular Mary in A Date for Mad Mary in cinemas nationwide.

The cast of RTÉ's new legal drama Striking Out [RTÉ]

RTÉ will also be co-producing a number of projects with the BBC, including an EastEnders spin-off Redwater, featuring Jessie Wallace, Shane Richie, Fionnula Flanagan and Maria Doyle Kennedy. Also back is The Fall, with Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan.

In terms of its factual programming, RTÉ will screen a new two-part documentary about the career of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, as well as Keeping Ireland Alive: The Health Service in a Day, where 75 mounted camera will follow the work of frontline hospital staff over 24 hours. Rural Addiction will examine the issue of dependence of all sorts gripping the Irish countryside, while Generation Jinxed – Generation F’d will investigate the plight of Irish millennials, 25-35 year-olds struggling to live fulfilling adult lives.

RTÉ 2’s Reality Bites will be back as well, and Vogue Williams looking at body dysmorphia, drug culture, online bullying, and transgenderism. Writer Louise O’Neill will also examine the concept of consent in her documentary Reality Bites: Asking for It, also the name of her bestselling novel.

Bernard O'Shea and Jennifer Zamparelli will return to the midlands for a second run on Bridget & Eamon, which RTÉ has also just sold to British broadcaster UKTV [RTÉ]

In arts and feature programming, RTÉ’s big hitters Operation Transformation and Room to Improve will both return, with the former also getting a celebrity spin-off featuring five famous faces attempting to shed the pounds. Pauline McGlynn will present the search for the island’s best amateur painter in Painting the Nation, and the refurbishment of the National Gallery, the largest conservation project in the history of Ireland, will be documented in A Grand Design: The National Gallery Reborn.

As for comedy and entertainment, the freestyling Tommy Tiernan Show returns for six more unplanned episodes, with the comedian joined on stage by guests he’s never met before the show. After a hugely successful first run, First Dates is back for a main course of 12 episodes, and Bridget & Eamon will be back for a second season. The country’s favourite adopted son Des Bishop will cast his critical eye over a number of issues affecting us in Des Bishop: This is Ireland, and Brendan O’Carroll will be pulling back on his housecoat and wig for a couple of Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas specials.

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