Reeling in the Years

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For the Steely Dan song, see Reelin' In the Years.
Reeling in the Years
RTÉ Reeling In The Years.JPG
Genre History
Opening theme "Reelin' In the Years"
Country of origin Ireland
Original language(s) English
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 48
Producer(s) John O'Regan
Running time 25 minutes
Original channel RTÉ One
Picture format PAL
Original airing 1999 – Present (No more Episodes until 2020)
External links

Reeling in the Years is an Irish historical documentary series broadcast in Ireland by RTÉ. Each episode, approximately 25 minutes long, looks back at the news and events of a particular year, from 1962 to 2009. The programme uses news archive footage, along with subtitles as the means of narration, to recount notable Irish and international events of the time. Music from the particular year is also played over the footage, with occasional scenes of live performances or music videos, generally (but not exclusively) by an Irish artist. Each decade takes at least eight months to make.[1]

The programme runs on RTÉ without advertisements during it. The theme tune for the series comes from Steely Dan's 1972 hit "Reelin' In the Years". The series was voted "most popular home-produced TV programme ever" in a poll of Ireland's Top 100 television programmes conducted by the RTÉ Guide in 2008.[2] In 2008, a DVD entitled Reeling in the 80s was released for the Irish market, with follow-up DVDs Reeling in the 90s and Reeling in the 70s released in 2009 and 2010, respectively.


Each edition of Reeling in the Years opens with the logo and the featured year on top. The above example shows the 1984 edition.

There have been five series of Reeling in the Years, each focused on a different decade:

  • 1980s – first broadcast in 1999
  • 1990s – first broadcast in 2000
  • 1970s – first broadcast in 2002
  • 1960s – first broadcast in 2004 (only covers 1962 to 1969)
  • 2000s – first broadcast in 2010

The 1960s series does not cover 1960 or 1961 because these years pre-date the official launch of Telefís Éireann, the television arm of the national broadcaster. It was felt, presumably, that there would be too little archive material from which to make an engaging programme about these years. Indeed, the episodes covering the first half of the 1960s are characterised by extensive use of photographs and posters, as opposed to film and video footage, to represent various historical events.

All five series are marked by a knowing attitude, where certain stories that seemed inconsequential at the time are remembered because they have taken on significance in the present day. This has gained the programme a reputation for being very funny. An example is seen in the 1987 episode: Taoiseach Charles Haughey discusses what he would do if he were to win money in the newly formed National Lottery. Haughey, whose lavish lifestyle was later revealed to have been funded by "donations" from businessmen, exclaims, "I might keep a bit for myself!".

Recent years[edit]

In recent years, Reeling in the Years has been used regularly by RTÉ One as a filler programme during the summer months and the Easter and Christmas periods. This has led to some interesting parallels with real-life events. When Cian O'Connor won his bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics, RTÉ showed the 2004 episode of Reeling in the Years, complete with Anne Doyle's announcement that O'Connor was to be stripped of his gold medal won at the 2004 Summer Olympics. The next day RTÉ showed the 2005 episode of Reeling in the Years, complete with the announcement that London had secured the 2012 Summer Olympics, complete with Tony Blair's announcement of what a momentous day it was for Britain, followed by footage of the 7 July 2005 London bombings, which occurred the following day.

Online material[edit]

RTÉ has included written summaries of the series on its online database with some audio/visual footage included.

1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
1970 1980 1990 2000
1971 1981 1991 2001
1972 1982 1992 2002
1973 1983 1993 2003
1974 1984 1994 2004
1975 1985 1995 2005
1976 1986 1996 2006
1977 1987 1997 2007
1978 1988 1998 2008
1979 1989 1999 2009

Copyright and DVD release[edit]

In the past, RTÉ had said that, because of the number of clips from external companies used in the series, it would be infeasible to release it on VHS or DVD. It claimed that securing "video clearance" for each clip and song would make any release prohibitively expensive. RTÉ did consider releasing an altered version of the programme which would only contain the images and music that they owned the rights to, but that "the programme would only be half as good then, it wouldn't be anything like the shows that went out on air, and we'd end up disappointing people."[3]

However, in October 2008, RTÉ announced that they would be releasing a DVD of a cut-down version of the 1980s material. Reeling in the 80s[2][4] is an altered version of the programme which contains only the images and music that the producers were able to secure rights to, and it runs to about 150 minutes (versus 240 minutes for the original series).[5][6] It does, however, contain some original material that has been unearthed since 1999, and which has greater significance now, such as footage of Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

Reeling in the 90s was released on 13 November 2009,[1] while Reeling in the 70s was released in November 2010.

The Reeling in the decades Boxset was released in 2011 which collected the 70's,80's & 90's DVDs in one boxset.

DVD discography[edit]

  • Reeling in the 80s (2008)
  • Reeling in the 90s (2009)
  • Reeling in the 70s (2010)
  • Reeling in the 60s could be released in November 2014

Other Countries Versions[edit]

The Spanish version of Reeling in the Years, "LOS AÑOS DEL NO-DO" began airing in 2013 and is produced by the Spanish state-controlled television and radio broadcaster RTVE.[7] The word "No-Do" is a shortened name for Noticiarios y Documentales (News and Documentaries). Following the same format of Reeling in the Years, LOS AÑOS DEL NO-DO encompases the years from 1943 to 1981. It has been associated containing propaganda to support the Spanish Dictator Franco who ruled Spain from 1936–1975.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]