Belfast Telegraph

Daniel O'Donnell and Majella on a new road trip as show swaps channels... but don't expect it on BBC NI

By Margaret Canning

Country-crooning charmer Daniel O'Donnell and his straight-talking wife Majella are on the move again - and in more ways than one.

The couple are well-known as the stars of Daniel and Majella O'Donnell's B&B Road Trip, touring the island of Ireland sampling the charms - and quirks - of its guest houses.

But now the programme itself is making a journey of its own, with news that the couple's show has jumped ship from UTV Ireland to RTE.

BBC NI confirmed it would not be broadcasting the series as - unlike some productions, such as serial killer drama, The Fall - it is not a joint BBC NI/RTE commission.

While season one of Daniel and cancer survivor Majella's show was available in autumn last year on Channel 3/UTV, viewers will now have to access it through RTE on one of four platforms on which it's broadcast here: Virgin, Freeview, Saorview - the Republic's equivalent of Freeview, which is available in much of Northern Ireland - or Sky.

However, twinkly-eyed Daniel didn't appear to be missing UTV too much earlier this week. The Donegal native appeared at home in the company of his fellow RTE stars, as he joined its most glamorous journalists, presenters and celebrities Miriam O'Callaghan, Vogue Williams, Kathryn Thomas and Claire Byrne, at the launch of its autumn schedule.

A spokeswoman for RTE said no date had been confirmed to broadcast the show.

The first season aired last year on UTV Ireland and its sister channel, UTV - and became a much-needed ratings winner for the beleaguered broadcaster. But spotting the success of the show on its rival channel, the Republic's state broadcaster, RTE, has snapped up season two.

The programme is made by Vision Independent Productions in the Republic.

UTV said at the time: "We have not committed to another series so the producer was free to approach other broadcasters as this wasn't an original UTV Ireland commission."

UTV Ireland, which launched in January last year, suffered disappointing audience figures for many of its programmes.

But UTV import, Rare Breed: A Farming Year, was a hit with audiences, generating a series average of 174,000 viewers.

However, Daniel and Majella put the island's farmers out to pasture with a ratings-winning 270,000 average viewers over their six episodes.

Ray McCarthy, RTE commissioning editor, said: "We're delighted to have Daniel and Majella on board at RTE One.

"We're huge fans of both of them and it's a great series highlighting Ireland's many unique and colourful tourism spots."

UTV and UTV Ireland have now been split up.

UTV in Northern Ireland is now part of ITV, while UTV Ireland is owned by Virgin Media in the Republic.

Belfast Telegraph


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