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Nolan Radio Face stars vow to keep on speaking their mind


Marie Aldridge

Marie Aldridge

© Press Eye - Belfast - Norther

Marie and Anne Marie divided opinion among people who watched their candid exchanges

Marie and Anne Marie divided opinion among people who watched their candid exchanges

Marie Aldridge

The two straight-talking stars of Stephen Nolan's controversial new BBC TV show Radio Face say they've no regrets about agreeing to appear on the programme.

Inseparable friends Marie Aldridge and Anne Marie Lee, who are both from Andersonstown in west Belfast, have also laughed off criticism of the show and their no-holds-barred contribution to it.

"The phone hasn't stopped ringing all day," said 47-year-old Marie. "And everyone I know seemed to enjoy the show."

A number of critics have, however, panned the programme, which gives callers to Nolan's Radio Ulster show the chance to voice their opinions on the television in recorded conversations with the presenter.

And most of the attacks have been reserved for Anne Marie and Marie, whose language was X-certificate at times.

The two women, who were filmed in the living room of one of their homes, didn't pull any punches on a wide range of topics including the benefits which they both claim.

Marie, who says she is too ill to work, shocked viewers with her repeated use of the F-word as she condemned people who said she should be looking for a job.

She added: "There's no f****** jobs out there unless you go on minimum wage. And minimum wage - sure what's f****** minimum wage? Sure it wouldn't even get you a carry-out."

A number of viewers took to social media to dismiss Radio Face as a waste of licence payers' money and claimed it lacked any real substance.

But other people praised the programme, saying it had been a laugh-a-minute romp and an opportunity for ordinary people to talk about issues which concern them.

Speaking on his radio show yesterday from America where he's on holiday, Nolan said he was proud of Radio Face.

He conceded, however, that if the swearing had been bleeped out the programme would probably have attracted a bigger audience because fewer people would have been offended.

"But what I am trying to do in that series is to show people in an authentic, real and raw way, and if you start to bleep them it takes away some of that authenticity," he said.

Nolan denied the show was a step too far for the BBC and said he was annoyed that some critics had formed opinions before the show went out on the "type" of people who would be appearing. He added: "Everybody from every walk of life should be on the BBC, in my view." Later he went on: "I sometimes laugh at the chattering classes who don't think that I should have a role on the BBC because of my background."

In a message to Marie and Anne Marie he said: "I want this series to be a laugh but to the chattering classes that don't want people like you and me on the BBC, do you know what - we are going to be on the BBC and we have as much entitlement to be on the Beeb as anyone else."

As she and Marie were interviewed live on the Nolan radio show yesterday morning by Vinny Hurrell, Anne Marie said her first reaction on seeing herself on screen was to say: "Jeez, look at the state of my hair."

Marie said she and Anne Marie had been compared to Statler and Waldorf, the two grumpy old men in the theatre box on The Muppet Show.

But she added: "There has been more positive feedback than negative feedback." And she vowed: "We will always be ourselves. We will never change for anybody."

She said she wasn't worried by people who had criticised her and the programme, adding that if they didn't like it they shouldn't have watched it.

In response to one man who said he was appalled at the programme but didn't rule out watching it again, Marie said: "There's 800 channels still on Sky, so if we were that bad why would you watch it again next week?"

A number of Twitter posters also complained about the two women's attitudes to work, and about them smoking.

Marie said: "Well, that's life. People smoke, people curse and people are on benefits."

Marie told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday: "It wouldn't be Northern Ireland if someone wasn't gurning."

She added that she knew her life wouldn't be the same again after the five-part series made her instantly recognisable.

"I'm ready for it. I don't care" she insisted.

Belfast Telegraph