Rip-Off Republic

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Rip-Off Republic
Format Comedy
Starring Eddie Hobbs
Country of origin Ireland
No. of episodes 4
Broadcast
Original channel Radio Telefís Éireann
Original run August – September 2005

Rip-Off Republic was an RTÉ television show highlighting the cost of living and working in Ireland. It was presented by Eddie Hobbs and was broadcast on Mondays at 21:30 on RTÉ One during late August and early September 2005. The series was a phenomenon that attracted the largest TV audience in Ireland for a factual series - other than sports events. The carryover from Hobbs satire rocked the Fianna Fáil / PD Government at the height of the Celtic Tiger as Hobbs' polemic demonstrated how development land costs had permeated through nearly every cost of living. Hobbs prophetically said that "development land is the only game in town" and that the Irish economy was "eating its young".

The show was filmed in front of a live audience at The Helix in Dublin City University. It was presented in the format of a stand-up monologue by Eddie Hobbs, with occasional inserts filmed on location. According to RTÉ,[1] the programme attracted record viewing figures, with 667,000 people (51% audience share) watching the second programme in the series. The series peaked at just under one million viewers.

Episodes[edit]

Four programmes were aired in the series, each targeting a different area of the Irish economy:

  1. Groceries
  2. Alcohol
  3. Transport
  4. Taxation

Reaction[edit]

In August 2005, Stephen O'Byrnes, a former official of the Progressive Democrats political party, and a current member of the RTÉ Authority, made a complaint to RTÉ management, alleging that the programme was biased and lacked balance. In addition, various Fianna Fáil backbenchers were also known to be unhappy with the programme; TD for Westmeath, Donnie Cassidy, threatened to call Hobbs and RTÉ management before a committee to explain their behaviour. The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern referred to Hobbs as a "non-factual person" and called for each a fact check on each programme to be reviewed in detail by various Government departments. Hobbs however had used Government sources and agencies hence the Government review came to nought although pressure was brought to bear on RTE.

On 6 September 2005, Hobbs told the Last Word programme on Today FM that he was pulling out of a planned appearance on The Late Late Show on RTÉ the following Friday, after RTÉ promoted the appearance prior to the final Rip-Off Republic programme. He later appeared on several other RTÉ discussion programmes including Questions & Answers, the Marion Finucane Show and Tubridy Tonight.

It was reported in several national newspapers that RTÉ sources described the programme as a "once-off" and not likely to return.[2]

References[edit]