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Pussy Riot VS Brendan O’ Connor: SWEET JESUS!

By Anna | February 3 2014 | 48 Comments

So you’ve got an exclusive interview with two incredibly brave young women who have served time in a Russian gulag for exercising their right to freedom of speech.

Do you give it to your top political correspondents? Do you arrange an exclusive with someone like Miriam O’Callaghan who’s an expert on combining the serious and the personal? No, you give it to someone whose telly persona is basically “a more boorish Alan Partridge” and you put the interview in the middle of a show where the atmosphere is generally more “crap nightclub” and less “space for serious debate”.

Saturday night show pussy riot

Who knows why RTE producers thought the best person to interview Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina from Pussy Riot was Brendan O’Connor? And that the best time to interview them was in the middle of the Saturday Night Show, after Marty Whelan talking about hair plugs and before a discussion on homophobia in which a woman who campaigned against the legalisation of homosexuality in 1993 claimed to have forgotten about it because it was “so long ago”?

But they did, and as a result this week’s Saturday Night Show was one of the most painful broadcasts I’ve sat through in quite some time.

Pussy Riot (possibly in the green room at RTE)

Pussy Riot (possibly in the green room at RTE)

Now, I could try to be kind to O’Connor and remember that he was speaking to the Pussy Riot women through a translator, Nadezhda’s husband Pytor Verzilov, which can make things more awkward. But from the moment he began his questions by saying “so, girls…”, the whole thing was both painful and infuriating to watch.

These are young feminists who have stood up to an autocratic government and then served time in a Russian prison camp that has been slammed by international organisations for its brutual treatment, and you’re asking them about how they feel about being famous and what they think of Madonna? I mean, really! And as for the fact that he refered to them as “girls” ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE INTERVIEW… Well, words fail me.

These are faces of exasperation and despair

Faces of absolute exasperation and despair…

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina looked like they couldn’t believe what was going on and I don’t blame them. I just hope they didn’t realise quite how inane the previous interviews were on the show, but I bet they did and were sitting there going ‘Really? Hair plugs?’

Seriously,  I was cringing so much I thought I’d pull a muscle. I had to leave the room at one stage, it was so bad. Don’t believe me? See for yourself…

In fact, RTE seemed to have decided that this was the weekend they were going to have the most awkward, obnoxious encounters of the year, as former-reality-TV-star turned professional troll Katie Hopkins made an appearance on the Late Late Show on Friday to spread her usual snobbish bile.

Yes, RTE, we know you want us to talk about you, but at the moment we are doing so for all the wrong reasons. Sort it out. And the next time you have guests as interesting and important as Pussy Riot, get someone to do it who won’t embarrass us all. Please.

So did you watch on Saturday? What did you think? And who would have done a better job? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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