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22nd Feb 2022

RTÉ viewers moved by emotive Vincent Hanley documentary

The programme has been described as “searingly honest” and “poignant”.

Viewers tuning in to Vincent Hanley: Sex, Lies and Videotapes were full of praise for the touching RTÉ documentary which explored the life of the titular TV presenter.

Vincent, who was born in Clonmel, Tipperary in 1954 worked as a radio presenter for RTÉ Radio 2, which would eventually become 2FM. He joined the station in 1979, and subsequently became one of the most popular radio DJs in Ireland.

He was then offered to host his own show in the UK, but turned it down to travel to the US, where he was given his own Sunday evening music show called Music Television USA. The show saw him conduct interviews and host segments on American music and pop culture, and it went down a treat both stateside and in Ireland.

Behind the scenes, however, he had been diagnosed with AIDS.

His friend Bill Hughes witnessed the TV personality becoming very sick, and while his body mass began to shrink, Vincent did not acknowledge that he had AIDS. In fact, during a visit to Ireland in 1986, Gay Byrne asked about his health, but Vincent denied having the virus.

He subsequently passed away in 1987, shortly after returning home to Ireland. He was 33-years-old.

Last night’s documentary was an exploration of Vincent’s life, with major contributions from Bill.

The show touched on the legacy left by Vincent, and celebrated who he was as a person. It also gave viewers an insight into the huge stigma that was attached to being gay in 1980s Ireland.

During the programme, Bill said: “I always say that Vincent Hanley was the biggest influence on my life and my career. I only knew him for the last nine years of his life. Those were dark homophobic times in Ireland when gay men like Vincent and I were criminalized under the law.

“Fair game for so-called queer bashers. And in some professions, gay people were at risk of being fired. Some were driven abroad for refuge only then to have their lives cut short by AIDS. But Vincent, he always saw a better life ahead. Right up to his last breath.”

Viewers took to Twitter with praise for the touching and revealing documentary.

Panti Bliss said: “Just watched this searingly honest and poignant documentary about the vibrant life and tragic death of Vincent Hanley on the RTE Player. You should too.”

Eleanor McEvoy, meanwhile, tweeted: “Very moved by this evening’s documentary on Vincent Hanley, amazing footage of Dublin in the 80s, extraordinary & poignant portrayals of the attitudes that were pervasive at that time.”

Another fan wrote: “Very good documentary. Sad to watch. Ireland really was a different place at that time.”

Vincent Hanley: Sex, Lies and Videotape is available to watch right here.