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Bertie is an IFTA-winning four-part miniseries documenting the life of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, which was broadcast on Irishmarker television channel, RTÉ One in 3 November 2008. The series examined in close detail how he operated as leader of the country and what drove him through his political career. Interviews interwoven with archive footage formed the basis of series.

The series featured contributions from over 70 people directly linked with Ahern, including family members, schoolfriends and national and international politicians. A central aspect of the programme was a "marathon" interview with Ahern. This interview was conducted shortly after he resigned as Taoiseach and leader of the Fianna Fáil political party in May 2008. Bertie features an interview with Tony Blair and contributions from former Cabinet colleagues Charlie McCreevy and Mary O'Rourke. His former wife Miriam Ahern and their daughters, Cecelia and Georgina were also interviewed. Amongst those declining an interview were Ahern's former partner Celia Larkin.

Other Cabinet ministers and junior ministers interviewed included Dermot Ahern, Willie O'Dea, Brian Lenihan, Martin Cullen, Mary Harney, Willie O'Dea, Conor Lenihan and Noel Ahern.Others interviewed included Des Richardson, Joe Burke, Barry English, David McKenna, Chris Wall, Paddy Duffy and Royston Brady. Ahern's successor as Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, did not contribute to the programme.

In the documentary Brian Lenihan described Ahern as "a man who is utterly consumed by politics and by the exercise of power and he has devoted much of his life to that exercise".Carson the producer said:
“It is a political biography of the Taoiseach while also covering Ireland’s political history from 1992, where the Haughey series left off.”


Bertie is a creation of Mint Productions, who also produced the 2003 programme, Fine Gael: A Family At War and in 2005 Haughey documentary series. also also directed by Carson. The show was envisaged and production commenced before Ahern resigned from office.

Episodes

Part one

The opening episode was broadcast on 3 November 2008 on RTÉ One. It traced Ahern's life up to the Irish general election in 1989, detailing his years as an accounts clerk in the Mater Hospital, Dublinmarker and his fledgling political career, during which he won a seat in Dáil Éireann in 1977 on his first campaign. The programme outlined the close bond he forged with his party leader at the time, Charles Haughey, whilst serving as Fianna Fáil chief whip.

Part two

The second episode was broadcast on 10 November 2008, commenced with the 1990 Irish presidential election, in which Mary Robinson became the country's first female president, and follows Ahern's career up to his appointment as leader of the Fianna Fáil political party in 1994.

Part three

The third episode was broadcast on 17 November 2008, focused on the period from 1994, when Ahern very nearly formed a coalition Government with the Labour. There was also the issue of the briefcase full of cash delivered by Michael Wall to Ahern's constituency office in St Lukes, the previous weekend; the cash was passed on to Celia Larkin who lodged it in an AIB account. From there the focus switched to the 1997 general election, when a minute increase in Fianna Fáil's share of the vote saw him elected Taoiseach for the first time in a coalition Government with the Progressive Democrats. Subsequently the extensive negotiations in Stormontmarker, leading to the to the Good Friday Agreement.

Part four

The fourth episode was broadcast on 24 November 2008, focused on the period from early 1999 up to 2008. The Planning Tribunal, Mahon Tribunal was set up in 1998 to "enquire urgently" into planning affairs in Dublin. Nearly a decade later it would focus on Ahern's missing bank accounts and a pattern of lodgements and withdrawals noticeably larger than his salary between 1993 and 1995. His subsequent attempts to explain this on the RTÉ Six One News in September 2006 and the coining of the term "dig-out" entered Irish political folklore. His performance at the Tribunal and dichotomies in his evidence featured there.

Viewing figures

601,000 watched the first episode, 594,000 watched the second episode and "in excess" of 500,000 were said to have watched the third episode. Ahern was not amongst the viewers, preferring to "listen to others' views on it at this stage" and watch it later when the series has completed broadcasting.

Awards

Bertie was nominated for an IFTA on 8 January 2009 in the Best Documentary Series category. It won the award at the ceremony on 14 February.



References

External links



2009 Bertie Best Documentary Series

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