Lesser Spotted Charm

Published Tuesday, 22 July 2014
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It's the summer, the holiday time, and the kids are off school so you might have missed that (earlier than usual this year) Joe Mahon returned to UTV screens this month to present the new series of Lesser Spotted Ulster - with a host of fascinating tales from places which Joe and the team have never visited before.

Believe it or not, this is the 15th series of Lesser Spotted and it is difficult to believe there are still locations out there that Joe has yet to explore - considering the multitude of towns, villages and townlands we have already seen over the past two decades.

Joe tells me he has worked out on his travel-planner that he could keep going for many, many years and never film in the same location twice.

The way in which Joe and his team from Westway Productions film the series has contributed to it becoming UTV's longest running series. As the title suggests, upon visiting an area for the first time, Joe will always 'dig deep' to uncover the fascinating local characters and lesser known stories from years gone by. And notice how it's filmed - Joe is always in conversation, never interviewing his many and varied guests. There are many 'two-shots' rather than intercutting of single angles.

Over the years, Joe has met a variety of charming and incredibly interesting local people for the programme. One of the most memorable meetings I can recall is with Cissie McGivern from Annaclone who was 99-years-old when Joe visited her home, making her the oldest person to appear on the programme.

Cissie was a wonderful, warm and charming example of someone who provided a great insight into the local area through various anecdotes and a witty sense of humour. When Cissie passed away earlier this year, we aired a repeat of the programme as a tribute to someone who provided a genuine insight into their local area.

Joe's programmes are not about Joe, but about his guests and the locations he visits.

Michael Wilson, UTV MD

As I've grown to know Joe over the years, it's clear he loves three things: people, language and location. His scripting ... no his narration ... is a fine example to anyone wanting to enter broadcasting of how to use language to highlight the pictures and point out interesting stories.

I think this is one of the main reasons why Lesser Spotted is a firm favourite with UTV's audience. There is a real sense of trust and loyalty bestowed upon Joe from viewers who tune in to see where he might turn up to next.

All at UTV are proud of LSU - as we call it as shorthand - and it's one of our most watched regional programmes, with the most recent episode beating EastEnders on BBC NI on Friday past (18 July). For a locally produced regional programme to beat a nationwide 'big hitter' like EastEnders is a huge accomplishment for Joe and the entire team and I am very proud to include the series as one of our flagship programmes.

This year the series runs until December, finishing just before Christmas, and promises to delight viewers just as it has done time and time again. So next Friday at 8pm, sit back, enjoy and relax, as LSU is the perfect start to the weekend.

Oh and I should also tell you that Joe and myself have just agreed to keep LSU on air for another three years after this series. Great news for UTV, great news for Joe and the Westway Production team, great news for the Northern Ireland creative industries ...

But perhaps most importantly, great news for all Joe's loyal audience and another few townlands ticked off Joe's travel-planner!

Lesser Spotted Ulster - Fridays at 8pm on UTV.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
MW. MD in Corner Office wrote (184 days ago):
Thanks Andrew, please to see you enjoy the programme. MW
Andrew in Co Down wrote (186 days ago):
Joe's presenting style is honest, respectful, informed, and down-to-earth; an example for younger presenters/journalists as to how to build a loyal audience. Joe has defined this programme's audience, I can't imagine anyone else presenting it, certainly nobody could present it like him. In our past there have been times when - for unfortunate reasons - some people may have been wary of visiting certain parts of the country/countryside for a day-trip. This programme has continuously demonstrated that people are people and we share much in common culturally and socially, and particularly our sense of humour. Well done Joe and your team and very best wishes for the future.
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Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is the Managing Director of UTV's Television Division.

Overseeing everything from the day to day running of UTV in Northern Ireland to the launch of UTV Ireland. His brief covers business development, online channels, regulatory affairs and the Contract and Licence commitments of the two channels.

Away from his job, he enjoys travel, current affairs, food - both eating out and cooking (he tells us he's pretty good in the kitchen) and his guilty pleasure is bad early Hollywood movies esp. horror and sci fi - think Bella Lugosi and Buster Crabbe!

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