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Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 2 July, 2020

Column: Cardinal Rules - On the Undercover Bishop

This week, the (not) Primate of All Ireland is disappointed that RTÉ’s new show does not have “a vigilante bishop roaming the streets of LA dispensing ‘God’s justice’.”

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

IT HAS BEEN a busy week. This time, thanks once again to Bishop Brophy, I have found myself being immersed in media-related matters.


Am delighted to hear a past pupil of mine, Dominic Murphy, on Pat Kenny’s radio show. Former property developer Dominic, like many others, has suffered after the implosion of the Celtic Tiger. He is doing a media tour to “set the record straight” with his Celtic Tiger memoir: ‘Setting the Record Straight.’

“Is it true you’ve lost millions?” asks Kenny in his typically snooty Montrose manner.

“Well, when you put it like that, Pat, it sounds worse then it actually is,” retorts Dominic.

“Some people are calling you a bankrupt,” says Kenny.

“Tentative. Tentative bankrupt,” replies Dominic in his characteristically cheery way. “Nothing’s been legally set in stone yet.”

Later that night we follow Dominic in his touching television documentary ‘A Lovely Shirt’ in which Dominic’s journey towards humility, compassion, and self revelation, is  expressed in a beautifully metaphorical manner through his quest to buy a lovely shirt.

In the end he buys a lovely pink one, and everything is brilliant again. “You can almost feel the positive sentiment rising in the country after watching that,” sniffs a very moved Fr Deasy.

Later, an embarrassed Fr Deasy admits it might just have been his valium kicking in.


A phone call from Bishop Brophy. “Did you see that rubbish on the telly last night?” he bellows.

“I know. Isn’t that Michael Madsen a holy terror?”

It takes me a few seconds to realise he is not talking about Celebrity Big Brother.

“A lovely shirt? I ask you!” he shouts. I can almost feel the spittle flecks coming down the telephone line, and subconsciously I raise a hand to protect my face.

“RTÉ would commission anything!” he roars. “Anything that is except something of quality.”

I know exactly where his rage is coming from, so I ask him out straight.

“Has RTE turned down your new documentary series Undercover Bishop?”

“No,” he replies, “but apparently I’m supposed to hear word very soon.”

After a few moments he quietens down and we talk about the Golden Globes.


RTÉ has commissioned Undercover Bishop. Unfortunately it is a different Undercover Bishop. This one doesn’t have a vigilante bishop infiltrating Mexican drug cartels, or roaming the streets of LA dispensing “God’s justice.”

Bishop Brophy is outraged. His only hope now rests on his idea for a series called ‘Cannon Law’ in which Fr Gerry Cannon solves crimes with his sidekick, a naïve but eager young curate. He tells me he is going straight to RTÉ and will get it commissioned, even if he has to camp outside it. I wish him the best of luck, and I tell him to avoid the beef stroganoff in the RTÉ canteen.


To dinner with my friend and former local businessman Jimmy “The Digger” Duggan. I say “former” because Jimmy’s cement-making business has gone to wall.

“Fair enough, there’s less demand for semint now. But no matter, people will be wanting more semint in the future, you mark my words.”

He says all of this in that charmingly rustic manner of his which involves talking and eating at the same time.

He tells me his post-Celtic Tiger memoir entitled ‘Cementing my Reputation’ is being published next week. RTÉ has also commissioned him to make a documentary about his attempts to come to terms with the loss of his business.

“It’s called ‘A Nice Pair of Slacks’ and it’s all about me buying a nice pair of slacks, and through this, journeying towards humility, compassion, and self revelation.”

Later, an excited Bishop Brophy rings from RTÉ. “I just saw Derek Mooney in the canteen. He looks much bigger in real life.”

I tell him about “Digger” Duggan’s news. There is a tense silence on the other end of the line. After a few moments of this the phone goes dead.


Another call from Bishop Brophy. This time he is in rip-roaring form. He tells me he gave Marty Whelan what for outside the Radio Centre yesterday. “He won’t blank me at the Ploughing Championship again in a hurry.”

Then he tells me the how the pitch for ‘Cannon Law’ went. “I was the first person inside the Television Centre this morning,” he informs me proudly. Then he gives me his version, rather then security’s, which involves their ludicrous claims of him locking himself inside the building overnight.

“Anyway, they said they’d think about it, what with budget cuts and what have you.” Then he tells me his “great news” about his new replacement for ‘Would You Believe.’

“I call it ‘You’d Better Believe It’,” and he outlines his plan for a documentary string involving stories delivered with an earnest spirituality, and a strongly didactic edge softened by a wink of the eye and a soupcon of charm. I wish him the best of luck.

Later that day he is thrown out of the RTÉ canteen for shouting at Gay Byrne in the toilets.

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About the author:

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

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