Andy Gaffney is not very clever. And not in a cute “How old were you when you realised…” way – more in a “didn’t know Barcelona was in Spain” way.
But maybe he can fix that!
BE GRAND: THE LEAVING CERT RESIT is the show where Andy invites very clever talented people onto the show to relive their school days, talk about how they ended doing what they do and along the way, they can earn some completely pointless points by answering Leaving Cert questions from the year they did it.
All in the hope that Andy’s sponge-like brain soaks up this new knowledge! That and provide some sweet sweet light entertainment of course…
TW: This episode features discussions of abuse.
Joining Andy this week on Be Grand is Dalal Alshohaib, whose story of escaping a forced marriage is both a harrowing and inspiring tale, which took Dalal from Saudi Arabia to the States, before finding a happy ending in Ireland.
After growing up in Saudi Arabia, Dalal’s life changed completely when at the age of eight her family moved to the United States. Here Dalal fell in love with the culture and enjoyed incredibly happy schooldays. However a move back Saudi Arabia saw Dalal struggle with an oppressive culture she was no longer used to. This was followed by an increasingly abusive situation at home and at the age of 18, she was given the news that she would be forced to marry a man she had never met.
Dalal chats to Andy about the dark times that followed, as this marriage obliterated all feelings of hope as she felt she life was no longer her own, and the measures she took in order to survive.
The story does however have a happy ending as Dalal eventually escaped this marriage, and fled the country to start a new life in Ireland with a man she truly loved. Dalal talks to Andy about how even now she will never take for granted the simple joy of sitting on the sofa, watching tv, with someone you truly feel safe with.
Dalal’s story is a truly astonishing one and she hopes it is proof to people in similar situations that there is hope, no matter how dark things can be.
Senator Eileen Flynn
Joining Andy this week on Be Grand is Senator Eileen Flynn. Eileen made history recently as the first person from the travelling community to be elected to the Oireachtas.
Eileen talks to Andy about growing up and how the legacies and lessons of her parents would stay with her throughout her life. These include how her father’s love of the news would provide Eileen’s first taste of politics and what she thinks he would have said when she made the airwaves plus how her mother’s kind way of dealing with the racism shown towards her and her sister always made them feel okay.
Plus as suicide rates among the travelling community remain shockingly high Eileen talks about what urgently needs to be done to try and combat this and the struggle with trusting a system that has constantly let you down.
All this plus Eileen’s first sparks with activism which lead to sparks of a… different kind and keeping your twin out of trouble.
A genuine inspiration, Eileen’s story proves that you might just get to where you want in life despite what people think you can do.
We love and admire all of the wonderful guests who’ve visited the Be Grand principal’s office over the last couple of years, but for purely personal reasons this week’s guest occupies a very special place in Andy’s heart. A game-changer in both the figurative and literal senses, we are overjoyed to welcome the legendary John Romero.
As the creative visionary behind the classic titles Wolfenstein 3D, Quake and the immortal Doom series, John’s work had a transformative effect on the computer game industry, popularising the first-person shooter and bringing an ultra-violent, adrenaline-fuelled intensity to gaming that anyone who played the games at an impressionable age has never forgotten. These were games that you didn’t just play - you lived. John takes Andy back to where his story began, recounting how playing Pac Man in an arcade as a kid inculcated in him a lifelong love of the medium and drove him to delve into not just how games functioned but what they could be. He also discusses how it feels when you realise you’ve created something that has never been seen before, the pride he feels in his legacy and in the community that has evolved around his games, which has led to countless friendships and relationships that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.
Just in case you didn’t think he was cool to begin with, John also talks about going to school on an army base and what it was like to have a step-dad who may or may not have been a spy. There’s also discussion on John and Andy’s mutual love of horror cinema, seeing Star Wars for the first time, and what question he’d set should Doom ever make the Leaving Cert syllabus.
This episode is the story of a man whose work will live forever and what is possible with hard graft, talent and abundant love for the medium.
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Han and Chewie, Morecambe and Wise, drunk texting and guilt - all famous double acts. Today’s guest in the Be Grand playground knows all about this topic as he is half of one of the most popular double acts in Irish radio history - Dermot and Dave. Yes, Be Grand is very lucky to be joined by the wonderful Dave Moore!
Dave joins Andy to chat about his truly brilliant and adventurous road to radio, which features so many twist and turns, it feels like the man has lived ten lives. Stories include his childhood love of heavy metal leading him to pursue a career in a band, only to put that on hold to live (and get shot) in Russia, before being called home again by his love for music...and all before he had sent off his first demo to a radio station!
Speaking of life turns and taking chances, Dave tells Andy the genuinely lovely story of how a letter to two aliens from the Planet Zog about a certain Velcro Girl would be the start of a romance fit for the big screen. Plus of course, he tells the story of how he met the other love of his life (Dermot) and the days on the radio show that will live with him forever.
Andy and Dave also chat about their love of boybands, the importance of bag stains in a chippers, and Be Grand breaks out the dreaded French tape test.
A lovely nice warm episode which features two old mates having a chat, which is made all the easier when your mate is Dave Moore, one of the nicest and most talented men you could meet.
Dr. Caitlin Colleary - Palaeontologist
This week’s Be Grand has been 65 million years in the making as joining us is palaeontologist Dr. Caitlin Colleary for a dino filled chat.
Caitlin is a molecular palaeontologist and curator of vertebrate palaeontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and she joins Andy this week to discuss why kids (and adults) have always fallen in love with the magic of dinosaurs.
Caitlin answers the dinosaur themed questions that Andy has always wanted to ask, such as what happened to the dinosaurs, could we bring them back and what do the movies get wrong. The answer to that last question may genuinely shock you. She also discusses how the mistakes of the past could help us in the future.
All this and the normal Be Grand fare, including possibly the coolest answer to our opening TV question we’ve ever had. A genuinely fun and interesting episode with Dr Caitlin delightfully putting up with Andy’s excited childlike questions.
Be Grand - the podcast that is so preoccupied with whether it could, it never stops to think about if it should.
CW: This episode of Be Grand features descriptions of racist attitudes and their impacts, which may cause distress.
Joining Andy in the Be Grand schoolyard this week is Boni Odoemene, co-founder of the Black And Irish Instagram account, which aims to highlight and celebrate the struggles and successes of Ireland’s black community. At a time when the brutal injustices and cruel prejudices inflicted on black people have rarely been more apparent, Boni explains why the perception of black culture and history in Ireland needs to be fundamentally reassessed, starting with how changing the narrative in the Irish education system can help our society evolve and eradicate anti-black attitudes. Boni also describes some of the truly vile and disgusting acts of racism he and his siblings have suffered, the trauma of which once led him to contemplate bleaching his own skin.
This will understandably be a difficult listen for some and Boni deserves enormous admiration and respect for his openness and willingness to discuss what he’s endured. But the chat also features some of Boni’s most joyous school experiences, such as the intricacies of schoolboy football and the importance of the perennial schoolyard currency that is Football Sticker collection. To top it all off there is the usual Be Grand silliness taking in Friday night excursions to Xtra Vision (sadly missed) and an absolute masterclass in how to do a Leaving Cert resit based on those two cornerstones of education - 1920’s cinema and, the sound of this and every other summer, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”.
This was one of the most important episodes we think we’ve produced. It was an honour to chat to a gent like Boni and maybe with the work and advocacy exhibited by groups like Black And Irish, the world may one day become a better place.
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