The buyers in RTÉ’s latest property porn series want to escape the city but they’re about to enter somewhere far worse: the housing market
Bog Amach is about finding houses for people who want to live in the Irish countryside. Naturally, its opening section features images of the derelict, filthy, traffic-choked city. And a lovely voiceover explaining that nowadays a lot of people want to get away to “the mountains and the greenery”. A lot of people, yes, but not everybody. Just saying.
The show (RTÉ One, Mondays) has a very good young presenter, Tessa Fleming, but the programme is really about the couples who want to leave the derelict, filthy, traffic-choked city and move to somewhere where nobody knows your name. One half of each couple is an Irish speaker. As a matter of fact, Bog Amach is property porn in Irish, with subtitles. I feel the subtitles fell down a bit on the job: “Ar Diol” means For Sale, right? Nevertheless, this show could get addictive; it all depends on the couples.
We started with Don agus Will, who want to leave the derelict, filthy etc and live in the country where they might start a glamping business. (Glamping is posh camping for people who want to leave derelict, filthy, traffic-choked city, but only for a few days. Or maybe for one day. You know yourself.)
The problem with Don agus Will was that they just seemed to be too sweet for the cesspit of greed that is the Irish property market. Will, particularly, was a bit too positive. Even before they began to view the three potential properties within their budget in Connemara, he was quoting sayings such as: “Follow your heart.” And also: “Lead with love, good things will come.” I know; you did tremble for them.
The first house they viewed was in Carna. Things got a bit Father Ted when it was revealed that the second building on the 10.5-acre site was “a mobile home encased in stone”. In the main house, which was derelict, the briars grew, rather vigorously, up to what once must have been the back door. Don was getting nervous about the price of what property professionals refer to as renovation and what the rest of us call rebuilding from the ground up. To these anxieties, Will responded by purring at the briars: “How do you cost your dreams?”
Rather too modestly, it turns out. When asked to guess the price of this extraordinary residential unit, Don, who said that it possessed “atmosphere agus vibe”, guessed €280,000. Will, in a rush of realism, guessed €230,000. It turned out the asking price was €310,000. It had so much land, you see. Not that anyone had ever seemed to have done anything with that land. That’s the country for you.
After the break we were off to An Caiseal — which I thought was in Mayo — this time to a house on 6.5 acres. Will was delighted with it. The fact that the entire property was pretty wrecked did not dampen his enthusiasm: “My favourite is the stairs — so dinky.”
Will agus Don were reluctant to guess a price on this one because, as Don said, when they had heard the asking price of the previous house “we got a fright”. (We’d all got a fright, to be honest.) Don guessed €150,00. Will guessed €250,000. In fact, the asking price was €200,000, which Will, God bless him, described as fair.
Then it was on to the third house, in Letterfrack. This had a garden where trainee chef Will could grow vegetables. The house looked in good condition and the asking price was €310,000 which, as Don pointed out, was the same as the first property — but without a mobile home encased in stone.
In the end, in a very brief postscript to the programme, Don agus Will had settled in a house on an island in Lough Ree in Co Westmeath. We weren’t told whether they had actually bought it. But they were far from the derelict, filthy, traffic-choked city and you were glad for them.
The Dublin of Harry Wild (RTÉ One, Wednesdays) is a sun-drenched and preternaturally pristine paradise that seems to consist mainly of Trinity College and the more photogenic parts of Dún Laoghaire. To be honest, Trinity College looked so clean that it actually verged on a whiter shade of pale. (How much does Trinity College make out of hiring itself out as a film location? I think taxpayers should be told.)
Turns out that Harry Wild (played by the estimable Jane Seymour) was a university lecturer who is about to retire. So far, so Morse, so Lewis: dark doings in historic colleges where the wisteria is always in bloom; I love those programmes. Harry Wild lives in a Georgian cottage (part of a terrace; I’m going to say in Sandycove) and, even after downing two bottles of wine in one night singlehanded, looks fantastic.
There is a thesis to be written about how women over 60 dress on television (I just don’t have the time at the moment) and Miss Seymour has settled for the jeans/boots/cashmere option. Whether or not this is wise, only time will tell.
Anyone who reads a magazine knows that one of the most interesting things about Seymour is that she hardly consumes any food, let alone alcohol. She simply looks too perfect to be playing someone this eccentric; on the basis of the first episode, it is almost a safe bet that Harry Wild has a diagnosable personality disorder.
In any event, Miss Seymour gives it her best shot. We’re deep into Midsomer Murders and Doc Martin territory here: cosy crime drama. The problem is that no consideration has been given by the producers to the crime. There is no tying up of the plot. Even so, Harry Wild could be a big success.