Wednesday 18 January 2017

Television: Daniel and Majella's full Irish isn't easy to digest

John Boland

Published 01/11/2015 | 02:30

Strictly no romancing: Majella fired a warning Daniel on their first B&B stop.
Strictly no romancing: Majella fired a warning Daniel on their first B&B stop.

Midway through the first instalment of Daniel and Majella's B&B Road Trip (UTV Ireland), the country singer and his wife were in the bedroom of their overnight lodgings in Tulsk, Co Roscommon.

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Prior to getting his 40 winks, Daniel was brushing his teeth in the en-suite bathroom, while from the bedroom Majella cautioned: "Don't be at me tonight, I'm too tired".

That was an image I didn't wish to conjure up and nor did I need to be given a shot of the toilet bowl available to the couple during their initial forays into the B&Bs of rural Ireland, and I could also have done without the sight of Majella fondling her husband's bum, or indeed the antics of Tulsk B&B owner Anne, who completely lost the run of herself at the prospect of Daniel's visit.

"Wow! Wow! Wow!" Anne exclaimed when Daniel and Majella turned into her driveway, followed by "Oh my god!" - the viewer not quite clear whether the deity being invoked was up there in the heavens or standing right in front of her. Then they all went off to the local ballroom, where the entire town had congregated for a dancing seisiún in honour of their hero.

As if intent on proving that there's life after eviction from Strictly Come Dancing, this hokey six-part series aims to show Daniel at his most laid-back, which involves lots of joshing banter with his missus and an airy display of self-deprecation as he indulges the excitement of those who are awed by their encounters with him.

"They're mine until tomorrow," Anne contentedly purred of her overnight visitors, clearly hoping that tomorrow would never come. The rest of us, though, were left wondering what we were looking at.

The same could be said of Better Off Abroad (RTÉ1), in which George Lee travelled to Dubai and introduced us to some of those Irish people who have opted to depart their native land and seek careers in this United Arab Emirates tax haven.

The clue is in the last two words, and among those availing of Dubai's largesse were the Galway-born CEO of the Jumeirah hotel group (€15,000 a night for a royal suite), the proprietor of an upmarket cats-and-dogs home, a car salesman, a tech entrepreneur and a florist.

George couldn't help marvelling at most of this, delivering utterances such as "I've never seen so much bling in one place in my life" and "when money is no object, literally anything is possible" and "look at those buildings over there, with people still working this late at night, they're so keen to get ahead".

These late-night workers were mainly third-world migrants involved in construction and were toiling under pay and conditions that George conceded have been "heavily criticised", but that's as much acknowledgement as they got in a programme that was determinedly feel-good in its overall tone and emphasis. And because of this, there was also only glancing reference to sexual intolerance and other human rights concerns in this supposed nirvana. The film was never less than watchable, though in a gawker's kind of way.

I gawked, too, at Modern Times: The Last Dukes (BBC2), a quirky and highly entertaining documentary about some of the last surviving heirs to an antiquated system of royal patronage. In fact, the last dukedom was created by Queen Victoria and there are only 24 left, all of them held by males, because that's the rule.

There being no direct male heirs in some families, the current Duke of Atholl in Scotland is actually a man who runs a signmaking business in South Africa and only dons his tartan for ceremonial occasions. Other dukedoms have fallen on hard times - the current Duke and Duchess of St Albans live modestly in London and their former country pile is a Best Western hotel with a three-star rating on TripAdvisor.

There have already been more than 500 complaints to ITV about its fanciful new crime drama, Jekyll and Hyde (UTV Ireland), which is transmitted at 6.30pm on a Sunday evening, a time that's deemed by some to be too early for its content. Indeed, the introductory voiceover had cautioned that it contained scenes which "younger children may find scary" - these including an opening scene in which a man was bludgeoned to death.

More generally, I don't know what children would make of this updating of the Robert Louis Stevenson story to the 1930s, but older viewers will have been beguiled by the early evocative scenes in Ceylon and by the playing of Tom Bateman in the dual title roles as he abruptly shifted from the benignly caring Jekyll to the monstrous Hyde.

The always entertaining Richard E Grant is on hand, too, as leader of a ghoul-investigation outfit, and the dialogue is smart, too, though whether the series lives up to its opening instalment remains to be seen.

But I'm fast losing patience with the new season of Homeland (RTÉ2), in which topical concerns are undermined by an increasingly unpersuasive, indeed implausible, plotline.

Carrie is off her meds and off her rocker, too, and has drawn up a long list of those who want to kill her. I've already joined the queue.

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