Hall's Pictorial Weekly
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|Hall's Pictorial Weekly, Incorporating the Provincial Vindicator|
Cover of DVD The Very Best of Hall's Pictorial Weekly, Vol.1! released in 2004
|Also known as||Hall's Pictorial Weekly|
|Written by||Frank Hall|
|Presented by||Frank Hall|
|Country of origin||Ireland|
|No. of series||9|
|Location(s)||Studio 2, RTÉ Television Centre, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, Ireland|
|Running time||30–40 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Radio Telefís Éireann|
|Original channel||RTÉ, RTÉ One|
|Original run||29 September 1971 – 19 March 1980|
Regarded as RTÉ's flagship comedy show, it featured satirical sketches on current news stories, politics and popular culture, as well as parody songs, comedy sketches, re-edited videos, cartoons and spoof television formats. The show was scripted and presented by Frank Hall, while a large ensemble cast, including Frank Kelly and Eamon Morrissey amongst others, performed the sketches.
Hall's Pictorial Weekly had its origins in the Newsbeat programme which had aired between 1964 and 1971. In that show the editor, Frank Hall, toured Ireland in search of colourful characters and off-beat situations. According to Hall, it occurred to him one day that he would be much more the master of the situation if he simply sat at home and wrote the sketches, instead of looking for stories around the country.
The first episode of Hall's Pictorial Weekly aired on 29 September 1971. Set in the offices of a mythical provincial newspaper in the fictional town of Ballymagash, it was billed as a one-man show starring Frank Hall and featured bizarre news items from around the country. The first edition featured Hall trying to establish where exactly the centre of Ireland is. The programme quickly evolved from just covering off-beat rural news stories. While this element remained more time was given to more social and political comedy sketches and parodies. In testament to the show's popularity, the term "Ballymagash-style politics" quickly became common parlance as a shorthand way of describing the type of "parish-pump" political shenanigans parodied in the weekly sketches.
Hall's Pictorial Weekly was at its strongest during the 1973–1977 term of the Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition government. So sharp and constant was its satirical send up of the government ministers of the time, that it is generally accepted that the programme played an important part in bringing the coalition into disrepute and perhaps even contributed to bringing it down. Ireland at the time had a very volatile economic situation and the show spared no political expense in portraying the then Taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave, as the "Minister for Hardship," while the Minister for Finance, Richie Ryan, was portrayed as "Richie Ruin".
The show also portrayed the former Taoiseach Jack Lynch (played by Frank Kelly) as a rather benign pipe-smoking figure. The political party he led, Fianna Fáil, was also lampooned as being called "Feel and Fall". Charles Haughey was parodied as "Charlie Hawkeye".
In April 1980 RTÉ decided not to proceed with the new season of Hall's Pictorial Weekly due for transmission in the following May and June. Effectively the show was cancelled, although no clear statement to that effect was made by the broadcaster.
In 2004, a DVD featuring highlights from the series was released under the title, The Very Best of Hall's Pictorial Weekly (Vol 1). A second volume The Very Best of Hall's Pictorial Weekly (Vol 2) was released a few years later.
|Series 1||1971–72||29 September – 31 May||24 episodes||Wednesday||7:30pm-8:10pm|
|Series 2||1972–73||30 September – 26 May||25 episodes||Saturday||8:00pm-8:30pm|
|Series 3||1973–74||27 September – 23 May||30 episodes||Thursday||8:00pm-8:30pm|
|Series 4||1974–75||25 September – 7 May||27 episodes||Wednesday||8:30pm-9:00pm|
|Series 5||1975–76||25 September – 3 June||33 episodes||Thursday||9:00pm-9:30pm|
|Series 6||1976–77||6 October – 25 May||Wednesday||9:00pm-9:30pm|
|Series 7||1977–78||21 September – May||Wednesday||8:30pm-9:00pm|
|Series 8||1978–79||– 11 September July||Wednesday||8:30pm-9:00pm|
|Series 9||1979–80||31 October – 19 March||Wednesday||8:30pm-9:00pm|
- The Irish Times, "How Ballymagash became part of folk culture", 4 December 2004
- The Irish Times, "RTE makes a show of itself for its 21st", 31 December 1982
- The Irish Times, "RTE scraps Ballymagash", 9 April 1980