Northern Ireland

Thursday's paper review: Nolan's pay-packet, bonfires row twist

The front page of Thursday's Daily Mirror Image copyright Daily Mirror

Stephen Nolan says he fronts "the biggest show in the country".

One thing is for sure - he is the biggest story in Northern Ireland right now.

The BBC broadcaster is splashed across the front pages of Thursday's papers after his salary was revealed.

He could take home as much as £499,999, making him the top-earning presenter at BBC Northern Ireland, and the papers give more than a dozen pages between them to discussing the sum.

The Daily Mirror runs an "exclusive" saying that the north Belfast man has turned down an offer of £1m from a rival commercial broadcaster.

The two-year contract would've allowed him to cut his workload by half but would've doubled his money, the paper reports.

Image copyright News Letter

An unnamed friend of the TV and radio presenter tells the paper why he turned it down, saying: "His ambition was always to work for the Beeb and for now it still is.

"But he's not daft - the doors to other opportunities are never closed."

'Maddens and delights'

Nolan himself confirms to the News Letter that he has rejected more lucrative offers of work from other companies because the BBC offers a "very special platform".

"I don't want to come across as arrogant but the factual position is I have been offered more money for less work," he says, adding that he won't elaborate on other approaches "because it would break confidences".

In its editorial, the paper says many people will be "outraged" by the size of his salary but plenty of others "will think he is worth it".

"Mr Nolan maddens listeners and viewers as much as he delights them, but the simple fact is that he has transformed that mid-morning Radio Ulster slot and made it one of the most popular shows in the history of the station," it says.

"Mr Nolan is such a colourful personality that when he is off his radio show it loses some of its edge."

Image caption Stephen Nolan's rise to the top of the broadcasting world is a "classic rags to riches story"

Flick through the Belfast Telegraph and you'll find a full five pages, plus two opinion pieces on BBC pay-packets, with much of the focus on Nolan.

Claire McNeilly delves into his background, saying his success has been a "classic rags to riches story".

"Lest we forget, this particular fat cat who got the cream was once an impoverished little kitten," she writes, explaining that the "wee boy from the Shankill" was the "son of a man who earned a pittance working in a factory for 40 years".

And she adds: "Just as Queen aren't really Queen without Freddie, ditto The Nolan Show without Nolan."

'Cat-and-mouse game'

That's enough Nolan for now... how about a bit of bonfire controversy instead?

Yes, it's been the hot topic for a few weeks now and it's taken a new twist.

Image caption The New Lodge bonfire is being built by an "antisocial element", Sinn Féin says

The Irish News leads with a story about residents' anger over a republican pyre being built next to their flats and a children's nursery in the New Lodge in north Belfast.

Sinn Féin councillor JJ Magee says the anti-internment bonfire is "making their lives a misery".

It is a "constant cast-and-mouse game" with the bonfire builders, who he says are an "antisocial element within the community".

The worries come after windows in a block of apartments in south Belfast was cracked by the heat of a loyalist bonfire last week.

And the paper also reports on a meeting of that block's residents and politicians on Wednesday night over who will pay for the damage.

It says Democratic Unionist Party representatives didn't attend, although on MLA Christopher Stalford said he wasn't invited.

Green Party MLA Clare Bailey criticises the party, saying they "need to understand that every person in this building was put at risk."

'Pace doesn't drop'

Think we need a laugh to finish off, so who better to look to for that the the one and only Frank Carson?

Image caption Classic comic Frank Carson is reincarnated by Belfast actor Dan Gordon in his new show

The Belfast comic died in 2012 but he lives on through actor Dan Gordon, in his one-man show A Rebel Without A Pause, about the life and jokes of funnyman Frank.

Belfast Telegraph editor Gail Walker went to the Strand Arts Centre in Belfast to see the Gordon in action and she's reckons he's nailed it.

"This will be a classic production," she predicts, telling us that Gordon "never lets the pace drop or the mood darken."

"There could easily have been another 20 minutes of this wonderful Frank Carson reincarnation without exhausting the rapt attention of the audience."

Must be the way Dan tells 'em...