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The Afternoon Show
The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Mark Little

Thursday, 28 February 2008

The Prime Time Presenter is here to talk about his new show, American Dream. Mark goes behind the drama of the US Presidential election to find the heart of the American Dream.

American Dream: Dead or Alive airs on RTÉ One on Thursday 28th February at 10.45pm and Part two is on Thursday 6th March at 10.15pm.

Mark Little was born in 1968. He studied Economics and Politics in Trinity College and graduated in 1990. He joined RTÉ as a television reporter in 1991, working during the Ben Dunne scandal. Mark was later appointed RTÉ's first Washington Correspondent in September 1995, covering two presidential elections, as well as President Bill Clinton's involvement in the Irish peace process and his state visits to Ireland.

In January 2001 Mark became RTÉ's Foreign Affairs Correspondent, reporting on the Impact of 9/11 from the United States, Israel and Iran. In 2001, he was named Television Journalist of the Year for his reporting in Afghanistan. Mark is currently co-presenter of RTÉ Television's current affairs programme Prime Time. He is the author of non-fiction books Turn Left at Greenland and Zulu Time, published in June 2002 and March 2004 respectively.

Mark returned to Ireland in 2001 after seven years in the United States, he was away during the Celtic Tiger boom years and didn't recognise the country on his return. He is only now beginning to feel comfortable on Irish soil again.

He is now finally settled in Ireland with his American wife Tara Peterman and their two children, he also has an older daughter from a previous relationship. Mark and Tara met at the Irish Embassy Christmas party in Washington in 1995.

He describes his relationship with America like an infection that you can't shake off! He loves the country but he is always learning something new about it.

He said 'never' meet your hero as it can lead to disappointment. After years of being a fan of Elvis Costello, he eventually met him and was then ignored by him!
Although he has found himself in many dangerous situations, he finds 'live TV' the most dangerous and is always afraid he will curse on air! He is fascinated by Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.

He does take time out from the 'serious stuff' and loves The Simpson's and The Sopranos.
He has met many politicians including Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama but the most people he was fascinated by were the local politicians in Iraq, who traveled around with up to 25 bodyguards.
Mark also featured in an episode of No Frontiers where he visited Istanbul. The most distressing moment for Mark came whilst he was covering the impact of the tsunami in Indonesia. The images he saw there will stay with him forever.

American Dream - The Programme
RTÉ journalist Mark, travels through the Sunbelt states, along America's New Frontier, to see if the trauma of the Bush years and the threat of recession has killed that dream, or whether it is about to be reborn. It was filmed between August '07 to October '07. Mark had the idea for the show about 5 years ago and the ball got rolling about a year ago. 

Mark says to 'Understand America, you need to understand the contradictions that lie at the very heart of the world's last superpower. Most Americans are keenly tuned into the tensions that exist between a collective love of ritual and the wilder call of the frontier.'

Mark looks at the continuing dispersal and expansion of the United States into its own interior, charting how the American pioneer spirit is alive and well in the 21st century. If the American Dream is still alive, then it's in the sunbelt states, e.g. Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Where has Bush taken the American Dream, the answer lies somewhere in Bush's promise of compassionate conservatism.
Whilst filming in a car park in Phoenix, the temperature hit 110 degrees, the crew tried to fry an egg on the roof of a car to prove how hot it was there!

Mark feels that he has struck a balance of making a serious subject exciting and would like to make more 'Factual, Western, Movies!' He got a buzz every time he got off an internal flight, as each destination was something new for him!