Reeling in the Years producer explains why the episodes are capped at 25 minutes 4 months ago

Reeling in the Years producer explains why the episodes are capped at 25 minutes

There is a reason why episodes of the much-loved show don't stretch over a half-hour.

Reeling in the Years is one of RTÉ's best-loved shows, with the two episodes that have aired in its current sixth season - chronicling the 2010s - attracting over 500,000 viewers each.


Airing on Sunday, the third episode will look back on 2012, the year in which Katie Taylor won boxing gold for Ireland at the London Olympics and Giovanni Trappatoni led the Irish football team to the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine where they lost all three group games.

Outside of Ireland, meanwhile, Barack Obama won a second term as US President and the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground on the coast of Italy.

Part of what makes Reeling in the Years so noteworthy is how it manages to cover in just 25 minutes the most important entertainment, news, politics and sports in a given year at both an Irish and an international level.

JOE recently attended a virtual round table event with Reeling in the Years producer John O'Regan, during which he was asked about the short running time for the show and whether it would ever be extended.

While O'Regan admitted that there have been talks in the past to make the episodes of Reeling in the Years longer, he has a reason to believe the 25-minute length works best for the programme.

He explained: "My own view is yes, it's about a year. But it's also a television programme and a television programme like this should seek to engage the viewer. My sense of it is that 25 minutes is about right.

"As a producer, you'd always like another few minutes but... I think the rhythm of the programme and, hopefully if it works, the sequences give you enough in 25 minutes to absorb you and engage you."


According to O'Regan, it was watching the series as a viewer, rather than a producer, that convinced him 25 minutes was the correct length.

"A few years ago RTÉ put a couple of Reeling in the Years out back to back and I sat down and I tried to watch them as a viewer, not doing my usual thing of noticing what I'd left out.

"What I noticed is after about 35 - 40 minutes you get tired of reading television, reading the captions and it starts to fall away.

"I looked at the viewing figures for those and I could see a similar drop I think in the second half-hour.

"It's not empirical evidence. It's just an impression I have. If it works at 25 minutes, let it continue to work as best we can make it at 25 minutes."


However, O'Regan did not rule out ever extending the running time of episodes, adding: "Of course, you could make an hour and of course, you could look at remaking some years. They're RTÉ decisions."

Reeling in the Years 2010 to 2019 continues to air on RTÉ One on Sundays at 8.30pm. Episodes will also be available on the RTÉ Player.

Check out the trailer for the current season below.


Featured image and clip via RTÉ