Nights In

Brendan o’connor’s ‘cutting edge’ back to an entertaining start (review)

Brendan O’ Connor’s ‘Cutting Edge’ returned to our screens last Wednesday and continued where it left off, as one of Ireland’s most topical and likeable shows. In my view, O’ Connor deserved this more entertainment-orientated platform. His Saturday night show was the best of a bad bunch but he always seemed an affable and versatile host.
‘Cutting Edge’ is currently the only RTÉ programme worth watching (The Tommy Tiernan show being conveniently on break). It is the perfect blend between humour and seriousness while having an (almost) natural flow. On last week’s show, former Senator Fidelma Healy Eames and journalist Eithne Shortall were joined by the frequent contributor of funny man Al Porter. While ‘Cutting Edge’ eased back into its groove, it didn’t exactly set the world alight.
Previously, the only problem with the show was that it often had a lack of variety. Last year’s panellists were usually Niamh Horan, Al Porter, Brenda Power or George Hook. Journalists usually dominate and for good reason; the likes of Stephanie Preissner and the already mentioned Tommy Tiernan simply did not work within the show’s format. Fidelma Healy Eames may rightly remind us that the country isn’t all just young and liberal but her political instincts withheld the controversy the show normally feeds off.
The usual segments of the hairdressers and taxi drivers return with the new addition of the dentists, discussing our national anthem and whether we know it, like it, or should change it. Discussing the pursuit of happiness began proceedings before delineating into the Angelus and porn- albeit not simultaneously. Calling it a relatively quiet week may seem unfair but until you hear George Hook announcing he lost his virginity at twenty-eight to the shocked faces of two young journalists, then you haven’t seen the best of ‘Cutting Edge’.
Like ‘The Tommy Tiernan Show’ it keeps things simple, reminding us that the point of a talk-show is exactly that: to talk. Three panellists sitting casually around a table bouncing from one issue to another, be it major, minor, or downright bizarre is refreshing to watch. How good it is depends largely on whoever is present but with solid regulars the standard is always high.
‘Cutting Edge’ has a natural quality that is difficult to create in a variety show. It seems to depart from the agenda frequently yet find its groove again easily. It is very interchangeable with George Hook often becoming the comedian while the likes of Al Porter speak articulately about issues such as education reform, working class areas or depression. Discussion jumps wildly from bed times to how George Hook desires to die, (on air and shouldered in a coffin by his sons if you wished to know). 
‘Cutting Edge’ is vibrant, varied and most importantly natural. It is interesting and entertaining yet as funny as any comedy of recent years. If you haven’t watched it yet, then do. It airs Wednesdays at 21.35 on RTÉ One.