14 Background Legends Who Became Unintentional Stars Of Irish Telly
Broadcasting icons without the six-figure paycheque
There are very few things in life as entertaining or enjoyable as when a live television show gets interrupted by something that shouldn’t be happening.
Whether it’s an audience member invading the stage or someone lurking in the background of the news, the thrill of seeing someone doing or saying something unexpected can liven up even the dullest of television shows.
That’s why we’re taking a moment to honour some of the greatest inadvertent extras from Irish television history.
1. The pontificating man on Frontline
This is the clip that had us all using the word ‘pontificating’ for weeks afterwards.
Was it his overuse of that word despite the fact that it seemed he wasn’t entirely sure what it meant, the constant pointing, his insistence on using ‘pounds’ ten years after the euro was introduced or was it the simple fact that we all love seeing Pat Kenny being shouted at? Well, whatever it was... something captured our collective imagination.
2. The slip seen around the world
As a piece of footage, the infamous man slipping on the ice on the RTE news has probably been pored over more than the Zapruder film.
Never has a nation been so enthralled and amused by someone’s misfortune. Is it the speed with which he falls? Is it the bounce as he lands?
And more importantly... does the observer effect apply, and did he actually slip because the camera was there, thinking “Oh, there’s a camera filming I’d better walk past quickly and confidently so I don’t look like an eejit on the news”? We may never know.
3. The lurker at the Galway Races
The Galway Races are always great for background action as countless people try to get seen on camera.
In this clip there are plenty of candidates who take the easy, obvious route of shouting, dancing and waving, but the real hero of the piece is the guy who wordlessly and creepily stands in the background, before slowly inching closer and closer to the camera.
4. The invader who gave Pat Kenny a piece of his mind
Pat Kenny has had a rough time of it. How a man so bland could stir up such strong feelings we’re not sure, but we’re glad they did, as they led to this marvellous exchange. The highlight probably being that RTE forgot to cut the sound as they cut to the title card.
The inadvertent extra all extras aspire to be.
5. Mayo Mick takes the field
Mayo Mick, who invaded the pitch to have a few words the referee during an All-Ireland semi-final replay, became a local hero (and nationally derided eejit), as he personified what all Mayo fans were feeling at the time.
Just as a massive brawl that had broken out on the field had started to get under control, Mick appeared like an apparition on the side of the frame, yelling in the ear of a referee. It took five security guards to get him off the field – but it would take many more to get him out of our hearts.
6. The eight-year-old who figured out how things get done in Ireland
Enda Kenny inadvertently became an extra on The Late Late Toy Show in 2014, as eight-year-old train enthusiast Oisin revealed he had written to Enda, and enclosed a fiver to try and get things moving on the proposed Dart Underground project.
It sparked a #JusticeForOisin Twitter campaign as Oisin revealed Enda never returned the fiver.
According to very unconfirmed reports that we just made up, Oisin is currently being held in a minimum security prison for attempting to bribe a public official.
7. The over-enthusiastic clapper on Winning Streak
We all know Winning Streak is the most exciting show on television, riding a rollercoaster of emotions as contestants move from playing one skill-free guessing game to playing almost the exact same skill-free guessing game.
So of course it was only a matter of time before someone got so excited by the spectacle of it all that they hurt themselves clapping.
8. The coolest Late Late Show audience member ever
You sit in The Late Late Show audience, your hand grasping your chin thoughtfully. You bide your time, knowing you’ve set the bait.
All you have to do is wait for the cameraman to fall into your trap... and when he does, you unleash this magnificence.
9. Brendan O’Connor being heckled off-screen
The only thing almost as good as seeing Pat Kenny heckled is seeing Brendan O’Connor being shouted at, purely for the fact that you can see him lose his patience with the interruption instantly and he’s not quite sure how to handle it.
10. The Late Late stare
More opportunistic and unsettling than the chap above, but nonetheless great.
Mainly due to the shock value of his eyes suddenly locking onto you, making you question if he might be able to see you through the television.
11. The man who tried to argue against marriage equality and ended up arguing against marriage
Despite the fact that he was trying to argue against marriage equality, this Michael O’Leary may have ended up doing more good for the Yes side with his slip of tongue.
Plus he made Vincent Browne laugh. No easy feat.
12. The guy who heckled the heckler
You’d think that the guy shouting at Enda Kenny would be the one we’re highlighting here, but no, like Inception, this is an extra within an extra, as it’s actually his friend who is the hero of this clip.
Following his unsuccessful attempts to restrain and quieten his friend physically, he resorts to plain ol’ begging, pleading with his friend to stop because he’s embarrassing him.
13. The Irish fan who snuck into the stadium
A very Irish solution to a problem. You travel to Estonia without a ticket for the match you want to attend – the Euro 2012 Ireland vs Estonia playoff – and unable to get a ticket at the ground, your only option appears to be to give up.
I mean what could you do? It’s not like you could put on an Estonia tracksuit, pick up a bag of footballs, just walk into the stadium and sit in the dugout next the Estonian manager…
14. The horse trainer who gave us all too much information
Horse trainer Peter Casey is so delighted with his horse winning in Leopardstown that the only way he can express his excitement is with a foul-mouthed sentence that made images no one wanted to see leap into the forefront of their imagination.
He might be having sex tonight… but it took a while before anyone else could without thinking of Peter.
15. The woman who made Pat Kenny lose his cool
How Pat Kenny is still in broadcasting after the amount of abuse he’s taken over the years we’ll never know, but this is the clip where he seemed to finally lose his cool.
You tell her, Pat. You tell her.