WILL THERE BE A VHS/DVD BOXSET OF 'REELING IN THE YEARS'?
In the spirit of revisionism that characterises much of 'Reeling In The Years', we would now like to - happily - take back the answer we've had to this question since 1999.
From the first transmission of the series in 1999, it was obvious enough that there might be interest in releasing a VHS/DVD version of the programme - which is why we wrote that original FAQ. We looked at the feasibility of such a release in 1999-2000, and several times since - particularly in 2002 and 2004. Each time we were reluctant to proceed, because the budget available to the project would probably not allow for buying in significant amounts of non-RTE owned footage, and also because of the costs and expertise involved in music copyright clearance for soundtrack and video/ TV performances. The only option appeared to be a DVD version that contained only the footage and music we could afford to clear on a tiny budget. We didn't think that version would be good enough, to be honest.We knew that because of the complexity of contracts, permissions and costs, there would be no way we could release a DVD containing all the music and footage in the TV programmes, but we still wanted the facility to include many key events, music performances and songs. Two things have happened to change that.
First, in 2006, EMI Ireland indicated that they would get involved in the project - both in terms of covering some of the DVD production costs, and even more importantly, in terms of negotiating music copyright clearances. Second, the market for Irish DVDs has grown significantly over the past several years. The possible budget for a 'Reeling' DVD has therefore also increased, meaning that we could look selectively at including non-RTE footage, as well as keeping most of the music we wanted on the soundtrack. We only wanted to make a DVD if we were sure that we could include elements on our 'wish list' that we thought were essential to the story of Ireland in the 1980s, like the various stages of U2 through the 1980s (their first single 'Stories for Boys" on the Late Late in 1980, through 'Unforgettable Fire' in 1985 and 'I Still Haven't Found.' in 1987), or Jack Charlton and Euro 88, and at least some of the other international sporting successes like Stephen Roche in the Tour de France, and Johnny Logan winning Eurovision twice, and the GAA, and at least some major international news stories like Chernobyl, the Ethiopian famine of 1984-85, the collapse of Communism in 1989, etc.
So in 2006, EMI and RTE funded the editing of a rough cut of what has become 'Reeling In The 80s', a DVD that is due for release in late October 2008. The TV series of the 1980s 'Reeling In The Years' has about 240 minutes' footage (25 minutes per year, less one minute each for titles/ credits = 24 minutes, x 10 programmes = 240 minutes). Originally we aimed for a DVD version of about 90 to 100 minutes, i.e. an average of 9 to 10 minutes per year. Thanks to the co-operation of many music artists, record companies and footage suppliers, the final version is about 150 minutes long, an average of 15 minutes per year, and has most of our 'wish list' of music and events on it. The two and a half hours on DVD comprises many sequences taken directly from the TV series: some sequences that combine stories and songs from a given year in a different way: and one or two 'new' (well, old, really, but new to 'Reeling') stories that we came across in our fresh researches into the RTE archive and we've included as well. The RTE footage obviously comprises most of the programme and DVD version, and we're very grateful to RTE's Archives and Libraries for all their help and advice. As well as RTE, there are over twenty other companies supplying footage and still images. So Jack Charlton and Euro 88 are in. Johnny Logan's in. Stephen Roche's Tour de France victory is in. Band Aid and Live Aid are in. International news stories like the Berlin Wall and Chernobyl are included. The soundtrack has music from international acts like Eurhythmics, Simple Minds, Talking Heads, The Clash, Blondie, New Order, Madness, Kylie Minogue and Human League, along with performances from Irish artists like Phil Lynott, Boomtown Rats, Big Tom, Dana and Daniel O'Donnell, U2, The Blades, The Fureys and Davey Arthur, Paul Brady, Aslan, Feargal Sharkey and Sinead O'Connor.
The Reeling in the 80s DVD is in the shops now...
WHY DOESN'T THE PROGRAMME COVER THE DEATHS OF FAMOUS PEOPLE EVERY YEAR?
'Reeling In The Years' isn't a definitive social and political history. We'd be mad to think that we could do justice to a whole year's events in one twenty-five minute programme. The programme tries to give a flavour of what went on in a given year, using music and archive footage. Beyond a general intention of balancing information and entertainment, we've found that rigid editorial criteria are useless. What's more 'important' - Ireland winning the Eurovision, a massive earthquake in the Middle East, an atrocity in Northern Ireland, or the popularity of legwarmers? Should we cover the death of an Irish writer, and therefore not cover the 'Who Shot J.R.' story? The editorial judgements in 'Reeling In The Years' are highly subjective and selective, and one of those judgements was that we weren't going to have an 'Obituary' section each year. We also decided that endless footage of different people's funerals was a lazy and inadequate way of acknowledging their memory, and that instead, we'd make every effort to show them when they were at the height of their powers. So 'Reeling In The Years - 1986' didn't refer to the death of Phil Lynott, but instead we had the video for 'Old Town' in our 1983 programme, which makes far more impact in terms of remembering Phil Lynott and his links to Dublin. Similarly, George Colley's funeral in 1983 isn't in the series, but he is in 1982, interviewed when he was in a sufficiently powerful position to challenge Charles Haughey for the leadership of Fianna Fail. There are other examples, and we admit that there are exceptions to the rule, but that is the general programme policy.
I WAS IN THE PUB LAST NIGHT WITH A COUPLE OF FRIENDS, AND WE HAD A DISAGREEMENT ABOUT THE NAME OF SPANDAU BALLET'S FIRST HIT. MY FRIENDS SAY IT WAS 'TO CUT A LONG STORY SHORT'. I'M CERTAIN THAT IT WAS 'MUSCLEBOUND'. THERE'S A TENNER BET ON THIS. CAN YOU HELP ME?
Frankly, if you're at the stage where you're having rows about Spandau Ballet's first hit, there isn't much anyone can do to help. 'Reeling In The Years' public service broadcasting remit doesn't extend to settling individual arguments, but we can recommend a couple of reference books which may resolve your dispute. 'British Hit Singles' is the best book we've come across: it's published by Guinness World Records Limited. You could also look at 'The Best Book of Hit Singles Ever', which is published by Carlton. In your case, however, you're better off not checking. Your friends are right, and you're wrong.