Monday 19 February 2018

Daniel's B&B tour presents UTV Ireland with a first hit

Daniel and Majella ODonnell
Daniel and Majella ODonnell
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Even before 'Daniel and Majella's B&B Road Trip' aired, there was a sense that UTV Ireland was (finally) on to a winner.

Watching cosy, woolly jumper-loving singer Daniel and his other half Majella meander around the Irish countryside looking at B&Bs and having picnics is twee TV at its best.

And, let's face it, no one does that sort of telly better than UTV. It can be easy to forget just how 'box office' Daniel O'Donnell is, but the ratings prove how loyal and far-reaching his audience is.

He has delivered UTV Ireland it first genuine hit. Despite that, the star of Monday night's show was undoubtedly B&B owner Anne Sheerin from Tulsk, Co Roscommon.

Sheerin was TV gold: bustling about polishing 1930s bone china, making sandwiches and delivering Hyacinth Bucket-inspired double takes.

She was hysterical when Daniel arrived, delighted when he walked down the main street, and confounded - not to mention a tad disappointed - when he told her he didn't enjoy a cup of tea. "Daniel doesn't take tea!" she exclaimed. "And everything about his mammy's lovely cup of tea. I can't believe it really!" That was as close as we got to a scandalous exposé of the Donegal crooner.

During the course of the programme, Majella and Daniel tucked into hearty full Irish breakfasts and took part in a range of different activities; they segwayed around Sligo, enjoyed a picnic, and went to an energetic dance in Tulsk.

The 'car camera' gave rare glimpses into their relationship; Majella sat proudly in the driving seat, while Daniel sang and acted as chief navigator.

There were a few moments of mild innuendo; Majella grabs Daniel's bum on a beach and they lie on a bed together with Daniel warning Majella to stay on her side. It's the utter lack of cynicism that makes the programme so enjoyable.

It is not poking fun at the parochial, it's embracing and celebrating local charm.

The series shines a light on areas that may be overlooked in holiday brochures and glossy magazine reads. Plus it's full of sweeping shots of coastlines, countryside and tea cosies.

The majority of reality TV is heavily scripted, over-rehearsed and completely contrived. But programmes like 'Majella and Daniel's B&B Road Trip' - which feature people who have not been carefully media-managed and who are not desperate to be famous for the sake of it - are becoming all too rare.

Irish Independent

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