Wednesday 15 August 2018

'Down with that sort of thing' - Why Father Ted has been banned from Gogglebox Ireland

Father Ted
Father Ted
Goggleboxers ‘just quote the show’ when watching Father Ted. Photo: Channel 4
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

The makers of Gogglebox Ireland have banned Father Ted and Donald Trump from featuring on the popular TV show.

Producer Simon Proctor said classic parochial comedy Father Ted wasn't covered - as it doesn't make for great TV.

"All anyone does is quote the show, repeating the catchphrases, so it gets a little predictable," he said.

On the other hand, Trump was too unpredictable, he added, and a story that was relevant on Monday may have become obsolete by the time the show aired.

Donald Trump is too unpredictable for Gogglebox. Photo: AP
Donald Trump is too unpredictable for Gogglebox. Photo: AP

"The story with Trump is always changing so it's best to avoid it whenever we can," he told the Herald.

The show also avoided some of the soaps, as Goggleboxers spent most of the time "asking 'who's that and why is she doing that?'."

"Comedies are also best avoided as most of the time people just laugh but say very little," added Proctor.

"Similarly, if the clips are incredibly moving then people tend to clam up and don't comment, which can be difficult."

He said the programmes that elicited the best response were Irish, topical, daytime programmes, like The Today Show and entertainment programmes.

Gogglebox, a ratings hit for Channel 4, has been sold to more than 30 countries around the world.

According to Proctor, the secret to its success is casting.

"Before the first season of Gogglebox aired, we put out a casting call which was great but most of the people who ended up on the show hadn't auditioned," he said.

"People think, 'Oh, we'll be hilarious' but then they feel like they're just performing and that's not what the show is about."

Instead, producers prefer to headhunt by visiting hairdressers and clubhouses.

The Tully brothers, for example, were spotted at an agricultural show, while Angela and Eileen (owners of the Michael Tea Higgins cosy) were unearthed during a recce at a retirement club.

The programme makers are also aware that the Irish participants can't be too similar to their English counterparts.

"We didn't want an Irish Dom and Steph. Gogglebox Ireland has to be its own show with its own unique stars," Proctor said.

Once the producers find a group of potential TV addicts, they trial them for the screen.

"We interview them via Skype and show them photos of people in the public eye, individuals that Irish viewers would feel passionate about - like Michael D Higgins or Miriam O'Callaghan," he said.

"We watch and see how they respond and interact, what they agree and disagree on."

Producers are not allowed to prompt the Goggleboxers.

More than 130 hours of footage is filmed for each half-hour show and selecting the right programmes is an art in itself.

The producers have one hard and fast rule; if the Goggleboxers become celebrities in their own right - and start capitalising on that - they must leave the show.


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