Sunday 20 October 2019

'Goodbye House' and farewell will to live - RTE's latest property porn show is boring, pointless, and crass

Goodbye House Episode 1 - Helena McCartan, Anne Lynch, Margaret Tierney Smith and Breege O’Connell
Goodbye House Episode 1 - Helena McCartan, Anne Lynch, Margaret Tierney Smith and Breege O’Connell

Pat Stacey

Having sat through last week’s first episode of Goodbye House on RTE1, I was sorely tempted to print off some flyers and stick them up on lampposts and in all the shops and pubs I frequent on a regular basis.

They would have read, ‘MISSING: television critic’s will to live. Last seen Tuesday, September 24, approximately 9pm, Enniscorthy area. Reward offered for safe return. If sighted, please contact Mr P Stacey, c/o The Herald.’

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Watching RTE’s various lifestyle, cookery and travel shows can be an enervating experience at the best of times.

You’ll know this only too well if you’ve been unfortunate enough to waste an entire hour of precious life on Lords and Ladles, watching three celebrity chefs cook dishes that nobody has eaten in a hundred years and nobody will eat ever again, in between extended bouts of oohing and aahing over disgustingly opulent stately homes and sucking up to the last, frayed remnants of the landed gentry.

You don’t even need an hour of Francis Brennan’s Grand Tour to feel indelibly scarred. Half that time watching Brennan wittering and gurning his way around some exotic holiday hotspot with a group of grumbling, culture-resistant saps (who’ve paid €1,000 of their own money to be there) in tow is enough to suck the existential marrow from your soul.

But of all the witless, worthless, woebegone drivel our national broadcaster has spewed out as alleged light entertainment for the plain people of Ireland, Goodbye House — the latest in an unending stream of RTE shows with the word “house” in the title — is quite possibly the worst of 2019.

And if it’s not the worst (it’s still only September, after all, and as far as I know, Donal Skehan has yet to make his annual appearance), then it certainly qualifies as the most breathtakingly pointless. It’s also as bum-numbingly boring as watching a YouTube video of someone else watching a YouTube video of someone else watching paint dry. I didn’t see last night’s episode (a therapist I know cautioned that it could tip me over the precipice into gibbering madness), but frankly, once was enough.

Here we have various homeowners who, for whatever reason, want to downsize. They call in three friends or family members to select three properties, one of which they’ll then choose.

Last week’s downsizer was 65-year-old widow Anne, who lives in a cottage in Swinford, Co Mayo. Actually, “cottage” is an understatement; it’s a beautiful sprawl of a place, comprising two properties on 36 acres.

Anne’s budget was €250,000 and her specifications were that the house should be near her family and friends and have no more than three bedrooms. I guess “downsizing” is a relative term.

So off went her buddies Margaret, Breege and Helena to find her a new dream home. Margaret came up with a four-bedroom semi-D in Galway, a 90-minute drive away. Why four bedrooms when Anne had specified three, and why so far away? Breege sniffed out a dormer bungalow closer to home in Swinford, but with even more bedrooms — five this time. Didn’t these ladies read the brief?

Perhaps not, because Helena then took Anne to see a lovely beachfront apartment in a gated community in... Portugal! I’d love to know whether it was the production company or RTE — commonly known as you, me and everyone else who buys a TV licence — that paid for this little jaunt.

After 30 interminable minutes, Anne chose Breege’s five-bed dormer — and then didn’t. A caption revealed she’d decided to stall until she got a decent offer.

What was the point of it? It can’t be entertainment. The only people likely to be entertained by this dire programme are the people in it.

As a piece of crass property porn garbage, it did serve one useful purpose, though: it reminded us how totally out of touch RTE is with the mood of a nation suffering the worst housing crisis in its history.

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