Quarter of a million tune in for Paisley

Ian and Eileen Paisley
Ian and Eileen Paisley

A massive audience of more than a quarter of a million viewers watched Ian Paisley’s final televised interview, the BBC said last night.

Paisley: Genesis To Revelation – Face To Face With Eamonn Mallie attracted an average audience of 258,000 viewers, a 50 per cent share of the total television audience at that time.

By contrast, Eastenders would have in the region of 120,000 viewers.

The BBC’s televised political leaders debate ahead of the 2011 Assembly election had an average audience of just 55,000 viewers.

The first of the Paisley programmes attracted an average audience of 135,000 viewers.

In the wake of the former First Minister’s interview being aired, debate continued as to his legacy.

Former Ulster Unionist Trevor Ringland – who stood against Peter Robinson in the Westminster election where Naomi Long took the DUP leader’s seat – said that Dr Paisley’s bitterness and anger about the end of his career was “rather poignant”.

Mr Ringland, now a member of the Northern Ireland Conservatives, said that Dr Paisley’s politics had a “malign influence on Northern Ireland”.

“When I listened to Ian Paisley and his unrepentant bluster and when I hear Gerry Adams, it is hard not to be struck by some similarities and it’s hard not to feel a bit sorry for them, because they’re both yesterday’s men and they’re both caught up in a web of denial and conceit,” he said, adding: “Paisley seems to be a bit selective about what he remembers...some of the remarks which he made about Catholics and nationalists were filled with hatred and contempt.”