Ulster on the telly

On the Telly

We’ve been watching the Channel 4 series The Piano recently where the local talent pitches up to show what they’ve got on a piano set up in a train station. It’s inspirational. London – goes without saying. Manchester, Cardiff, Liverpool, Edinburgh – certainly. Belfast? Nope. I asked my wife why:

  1. They couldn’t get a train direct from London so why bother?
  2. The train station in Belfast wasn’t actually big enough
  3. The local talent isn’t known for its classical prowess
  4. They tried but couldn’t understand a word anyone says over there

My wife rolled her eyes and cleverly changed the subject.

The people of Ulster are used to being forgotten about. I was fully aware of this growing up in Ulster – how completely London-and-southeast centric the UK and it’s telly was. I remember counting down the 3 weeks waiting for the English schools to break for summer before the BBC switched it’s programming to the kids cartoons in weekday mornings. The only respite from troubles-related news was Why Don’t You?, which travelled around Britain and sometimes had a (reluctant) week in a church hall in Belfast.

If anything was happening, it was happening in London. And now that I live in London and see it from the other side, I’m aware of just how few people have ever been to Ulster or know anything about it. Now that the dark days of the troubles are all but gone, it’s as if Ulster has faded again from the UK view completely.

And maybe, as Ulster continues to build for the future, that’s not such a bad thing.



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