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You're A Star - Fanning fights back

Eyebrows were raised in the Irish rock community at Dave Fanning’s appointment as a panellist for RTE’s next series of You’re A Star. Colm O’Hare gives him a chance to explain why he doesn’t care.

Colm O'Hare, 13 Oct 2004



Dave Fanning has defended his decision to take part as a panellist on RTE’s You’re A Star series which hits our screens again in November for a 17 week run.

“It’s indefensible,” he says. “I just can’t defend this at all. It’s Eurovision for God’s sake. It’s all shite, everyone knows that. But I just don’t care. I’m doing it for a laugh. Of course I’m going to get people slagging me off, but I’m used to all that.”

The 2FM presenter joins a new panel that also includes IMRO Vice President Barbara Galavan and pop star Hazel Kaneswaran. Fanning got a call during the summer asking him to come on board.

“I just thought, why not do it?” he says. “I’ve done everything else at this stage, including the Mercury Music Prize, IMRO Showcases and battle of the bands contests up and down the country. When I did 2TV from 1995 until 2000 I presided over the worst five years in 50 years of pop music history. It was all Boyzone videos and I’d slag them all to death. Then they’d be in with me the next week and I’d say ‘lads, you’re brilliant – three number ones in a row, well done’. I actually like Ronan and I like Keith as people, but I don’t like their music. Everyone knows that.”

Is there a possibility that the producers picked Dave in the certain knowledge that he would hate everything and slag it off making for even more riveting TV?

“No, I don’t think so. I’m not Simon Cowell. I’m not giving out to the performers. If someone is good at singing a song, say at a wedding or when the pub closes or out on the street busking, what do I say about them, good, bad or indifferent? Should they represent Ireland in Europe? Absolutely. Why not? Because I don’t care who represents Ireland in Europe. It’s as flawed a way of choosing a Eurovision entrant as any other. Does it really matter that we came second-last last year? Denmark, or was it Norway, came last five years in a row – that’s something to aspire to as far as I’m concerned. Maybe I’m supposed to toe the RTE line on this, but I haven’t been doing it so far.”

Presumably, the money was just too good to turn down?

“I’m not doing this for the money. The money never is good enough to tell you the truth. Look, I’ve been doing this radio show on 2FM for the last two years, which is bits and pieces of anything and everything. Some of the biggest laughs we’ve had and the biggest responses we’ve had were on the days after You’re A Star when people are ringing in saying, ‘my votes weren’t counted’ and ‘your man sounded shite’ and all that kind of stuff. It was like a Joe Duffy show for bad songs. I just thought it was hilarious.”

Following last year’s disastrous placing in Eurovision, the producers have moved to widen the scope of You’re A Star. Songwriters will feature for the first time this year and bands will now be allowed enter. There will even be a “bands-only” audition in Portlaoise on 16th October.

“I really do think bands should do it – if only for the experience of playing in front of somebody. They can rehearse and rehearse forever, but when they’re 4th on the bill at the Isaac Butt or wherever it’s worth more than a hundred rehearsals. So come along anyway. You might even meet a better drummer than the one in your own band. And be jaundiced about it. Forget about the Eurovision element. I would just love to see some good band get something out of it. Don’t forget, U2 won a competition in Limerick and were signed to CBS Ireland by Jackie Hayden.

“And there is actually another good reason why they should do it. The new series of the Last Broadcast starts this week. From the footage we shoot at Portlaoise I’ll be doing a kind of demo-video round up of the best bands who turn up on the day. Who knows – it might just give some bands a bit of exposure. So come along on the day – what have you got to lose?”

The bands-only You’re A Star Auditions take place at the Dunamaise Theatre & Centre for the Arts, Church Street, Portlaoise on Saturday 16th October - Auditions start at 9am. And remember – it’s bands only!

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One of the leading lights in Irish music since the 1970s, Dave Fanning has led the life, brilliantly heading up the rock posse in RTÉ and rubbing shoulders with a vast array of music legends. Back in pole position on RTÉ 2fm’s night-time schedule, he has seen off rivals elsewhere to remain at the centre of the broadcasting action. With his autobiography just released, it’s time for a natter. As ever with the man they call Fanning, what we get is a remarkably open and honest exchange


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