Súil Eile: A look back at 20 years of TG4

From Paisean Faisean to An Klondike, there has been plenty of diverse programming on TG4 over its two decades

TG4, TnaG, telifis na gaeilge,

Image: Image: Tomas O'Ceallaigh, Programme editor, at the opening of TnaG in the studios at Ballinahown, Co. Galway. 1996. Kevin Clancey/Photocall Ireland

TG4 turns 20 today, having launched on October 31st back in the hazy days of 1996, when it was known as TnaG or Teilifís na Gaeilge.

From live sports programming to watching Spongebob as Gaeilge, there has been a huge variety of programming on the station as it has looked to send the message that Irish is a living language.

After a re-brand and a number of alterations to entice viewers since its inception, TG4 celebrates its 20th birthday this Halloween, and things have changed quite considerably since the early days. 

Image: Toasting the opening of Teilifis Na Gaeilge in 1996 were Briain Mac Aongusa, Chairman of TNaG (left), then-Labour Minister Michael D. Higgins TD (centre); and Prof. Farrel Carcoran, Chairman RTE authority (right) in the Connemara Coast Hotel, Galway. Kevin Clancy/Photocall Ireland

In its two decades on the air, there have been plenty of highlights to choose from, so here are a few of the best shows and moments that the station has brought to Irish households over the years. 

Ros na Rún 

Set in a fictional village outside Spiddal, the show has touched on a number of controversial and dramatic subjects over the years. Given that it passed the 1,000 episode mark, it proved to be a relative hit with viewers of the station, and may well be its most well-known offering.

Back in 2011, it reached some degree of international fame when Stephen Fry appeared in an episode, trying his hand at a cúpla focail. 

Paisean Faisean

The traditional dating show was given a makeover, full-Irish style, with the launch of Paisean Faisean. Irish men, known the world over thanks to their keen eye for fashion, picked an outfit for a potential date, hoping that their ensemble would be chosen and they would be off out for a meal and a chance at love.

This short promo probably says it all, really. 

The O.C.

Alright, this wasn't shown in Irish, but TG4 was the first to deliver new episodes of The O.C. when that was the hottest show on television. Could Summer ever really fall for Seth? Was Sandy Cohen the coolest man alive? Would Marissa get away with shooting Trey that time she thought he was going to beat Ryan to death? The answers were on TG4...

An Klondike

With foreign-language shows such as Borgen and Forbrydelsen (better known, perhaps, as The Killing) making waves all around the world, the station decided to try its hand at something similar and produced a gritty drama in the form of An Klondike

Hugely adventurous, the show followed the fortunes of three brothers chasing the Gold Rush of the late 1890s and bringing their language to the Yukon in north-western Canada in the process. Their gamble was rewarded as the show won four Irish Film and Television Academy awards, and was even snapped up by Netflix, although it was renamed as Dominion Creek. 

The acclaim that followed has shown that TG4 can be a great place for dramas, in particular with a focus on crime, as Corp + Anam also proved to be popular over two seasons with viewers, and the five-part An Bronntanas earned plenty of plaudits. 

Hector's travels

What would Irish life be like without Hector in it? We'll never know, but his personality was certainly made for television, and he became a household name through his travel shows on TG4. From Africa to Central America, he's been there, done that, and sometimes even bought the t-shirt.

Image: TG's travel presenter Hector Ó hEochagáin on a 16-foot high Pegasus (flying horse) complete with wings made entirely from Red Bull cans in 2003. Photo: RollingNews.ie

Pioc do Ride

Another dating show with a twist (or should that be spin, given the context), Pioc do Ride sees a contestants pick a date with someone based entirely on their car and what's inside it. 

It doesn't stop there, however, as the car owners can then choose to either go on the date with €250 to spend, or take the same amount in the form of a voucher that could be spent on fixing up their wheels. This, as you might imagine, has lead to some rather awkward situations.

There have certainly been plenty of other highlights throughout the years, so if there are any that you think deserve a mention, you can tweet them to us