Throughout the 1970s in Ireland the distinctive theme tune of Hall’s Pictorial Weekly was played by the Cork Butter Exchange Brass Band, introducing another episode of RTÉ’s much-loved, weekly satirical show.
The life and work of the late Frank Hall – presenter, scriptwriter and editor of Hall’s Pictorial Weekly – was the subject of producer/director Peter McEvoy’s presentation to June’s Republic of Ireland event, “Frank Hall: a timely reminiscence”.
Halls Pictorial Weekly cast actors, in various guises and disguises, to mimic and satirise the politicians of the day. The actors included Frank Kelly, who went on to play the foul-mouthed priest Father Jack in the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted, which aired on RTÉ Two in Ireland. Kelly died earlier this year.
McEvoy, who directed many editions of the show, believed it was the embodiment of BBC founder Lord Reith’s belief that television’s purpose was to inform educate and entertain. “Hall’s Pictorial Weekly had all this in spades,” he said.
The programme ran for more than 250 episodes from 1971 to 1980. It is fondly remembered to this day as an irreverent show that was unafraid to poke fun at Irish politicians. It featured satirical sketches on current news stories, politics and popular culture, song parodies, cartoons and spoof television formats.
Hall, who was born in Newry, Northern Ireland in 1921 and died in 1995, was a journalist, broadcaster and, in later life, a film censor.
He joined Telefís Éireann on its inception in 1961 as a reporter in the newsroom. After interviewing the Beatles before their 1963 Dublin gig, Hall famously predicted that they would not last.
Hall presented The Late Late Show in 1964 and then Newsbeat until 1971. From 1978 to 1986, Hall was Ireland’s official film censor.