RTÉ 2 offers wide variety 

23 October 2023 tbs.pm/79502

Be ready for the big switch-on!



When Limerick-born BBC disc jockey, Terry Wogan, hosts the gala opening programme of Ireland’s second television channel, RTE-2, in under two weeks time, it will mark the beginning of a new era in Irish TV viewing.


Wicklow People masthead

From the Wicklow People for Friday 20 October 1978

And the introduction of the new station is being looked forward to with extra special interest by viewers in counties Wexford and Wicklow because for the great majority of them the first programme on November 2nd from the Cork Opera House will mean a jump into the “super viewer” class with the unprecedented reception of FIVE television stations.

Granted there are still some areas-particularly in Co. Wexford where RTE 2 test signals have been interfering with reception of HTV reception [sic] from Preseli in Wales. But we have been assured by RTE’s top technical staff that engineers are working around the clock in efforts to sort out these problems and that no stone will be left unturned until the viewers who are experiencing interference completely satisfied.

In fact, Radio Telefis Eireann are taking the matter so seriously that they have appointed permanent staff in Wexford to deal with complaints from viewers.

Another problem being experienced and particularly so again in parts of Wexford town is that existing RTE aerials are not up to modern standards and are incapable of receiving with clarity the test transmissions.


A print advertisement for a shop offering aerials and tuning advice shows a television screen with RTE2 appearing twice due to ghosting and asks "Will you be watching RTE 4 this year?"


Easily solved

However, unlike the other, this is a problem which is easily solved. A visit to your local television dealer will bring expert advice on the type, of aerial best suited to your needs. RTE say that the broadband type is best as both Irish stations can home in on this. This retails at about £18.50 [€130 in today’s money, allowing for inflation – Ed], but shop around and you may find the price varies from dealer to dealer.

RTE 2 is, of course, going out on UHF (ultra high frequency) and there are still a small number of black and white receivers around, and even some colour ones, incapable of receiving the new station. Again it would be wise to ask your dealer if you feel there may be difficulty in this respect.

It is a fact that over a third of viewers in Ireland now own or rent colour TV sets and this figure is expected to jump to over fifty per cent before 1980. Viewers with sets rented or bought in the last seven years can rest assured on the UHF problem.

So despite a few minor problems which we hope will soon be ironed out, it seems that 1978 is going to be the most impressive year for Irish television since it first began back in 1960.

Both quality and quantity of signals has been improved immensely since then as proven by the abolition already this year of the 405 line service and the introduction of nationwide 625 line picture giving much clearer viewing.


RTÉ 2's clock, seen just before the first programme


Technical changes

And no matter what opinion one holds about the quality of RTE programmes or of those to come, the technical changes have made viewing brighter, more easily absorbed and less likely to be interfered with by other sources.

Certainly the programme controllers in Montrose have come up with some fine viewing for the new service. It opens with a programme featuring an all-star international cast including not only the well known Mr. Wogan but also Val Doonican, Lena Zavarroni, the internationally famous Irish folk group, The Chieftains, and Colm Wilkinson.

RTE’s own Mike Murphy will join Terry Wogan in hosting the programme and it will include recorded greetings from well known stars whose work will later be seen on the new channel.

These include BBC chat show host, Michael Parkinson; American singing stars, Andy Williams and Sammy Davis, jnr.

On opening night the big switch on begins at 7.45 and transmission will run until shortly before midnight. Included in the opening night’s features will be the film “Bullitt”. There will also be a foreign news round-up programme presented by Dermot Mullane.



Chat show

Quite a few of the programmes are being supplied by cross-channel networks. During the first week in the life of the new station viewers will be able to see Michael Parkinson’s famous BBC chat show.

This will be at 10 p.m. on Sunday, November 5th, and for the first time ever nationwide Irish audiences will be able to switch on to that ever famous ITV production “Coronation Street”. This gets its first RTE 2 airing on Monday, November 6th.

Other TAM rated English imported programmes which get under way that first week include BBC’s “Top of the Pops”, and the Eamonn Andrews hosted “This Is Your Life”. The latter will be seen on the first Wednesday at 7 p.m.

RTE 2 will begin transmission at 6.50 p.m. daily and will run until near midnight. A new daily feature – “Switch On” will open each night television viewing with extracts from shows on both Irish channels. This programme will be presented by Bernadette Ni Ghallchoir, Roisin Harkin and Ray Maxwell.

“Bruce Forsythe’s [sic] Big Night Out”, another ITV series will go out on the air each Saturday evening at 7.30 and this will be followed by a re-run of popular programmes already seen RTE 1 and 2 during the week. This is entitled “Second Channel, Second Choice”.

The BBC science fiction series “Blakes Seven” [sic] will be broadcast each Sunday evening and there is also that hilarious British comedy programme duet, “Oh No – It’s Selwyn Frogget”, and “Porridge”, starring the unbelievably funny Ronnie Barker as a convict in prison.

RTE 2 will also feature a programme entitled “Second Channel Firsts” and true to its name this programme will feature the launching of “Mike Murphy’s America”, a series made recently by the irrepressible Murphy on a visit to the States.



Prime time

Native programmes also get some prime viewing time on the new second channel and Irish programmes are not forgotten. In fact there are two new programmes in the native tongue. “Satharn” is presented at 7 p.m. on Saturdays by Tony McMahon, and “Trachaireacht” is a programme in Irish on the media and the arts which will be hosted, by Bernadette Ni Ghallchoir. This is timed for 9.30 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Full details of future RTE 2 programmes will be printed shortly in the RTE Guide and we are told that those responsible for programme choice in Montrose are shopping throughout the world for the best in television entertainment to put before the Irish audience.

It will provide us with an extra choice and there is little doubt that as time progresses RTE will come up with some magnificent “firsts”. They have done so in the past with only one channel. Let’s hope they will be twice as good now that they have two at their fingertips.

But don’t forget, check with your local dealer if you feel you have problems. With less than two weeks to go before the big switch on you have precious little time left and the longer you leave it the longer it will take to have them ironed out.


You Say

2 responses to this article

Neil Crosswaite 23 October 2023 at 1:32 pm

Such excitement over five channels. The past really is a different country

RAMONES1986 29 October 2023 at 2:04 pm

If only RTÉ2 was a dedicated Gaelic-language TV channel with decentralized production.

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