Monday 28 May 2018

Did the men of 1916 die for this? I hope so...

* Sex Box, Channel 4
* Midday, TV 3

Oversharing: Irishman Ciaran and his Danish girlfriend Maria took part in 'Sex Box' on Channel 4.
Oversharing: Irishman Ciaran and his Danish girlfriend Maria took part in 'Sex Box' on Channel 4.
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

Interior. Man pitches ideas to producer: 'I'd like to stretch the boundaries of modern television'. Producer: I'm listening. Man: 'Inner city sumo? No? Okay, how about monkey tennis? No? Well, I've been thinking about doing a show which would be basically youth hostelling with Chris Eubank. No again?'

Man pauses... 'What about putting people in a box to have sex with each other and then we interview the still panting couple immediately afterwards, before they've even had a chance to have a post-coital cigarette?'

Producer: Let's make some television!


Scene fades, sounds of champagne corks popping as credits roll...

It's quite possible that this isn't exactly how the pitch meeting for Sex Box actually happened. But I wouldn't be surprised.

It's hard to believe that the classic episode of Alan Partridge which spawned such memorable programme ideas as 'Monkey Tennis' and 'Inner City Sumo' will be 20-years-old next year (just in case you didn't feel ancient enough this morning, I thought I'd mention it). Yet as time goes on, TV atomises and the race to the bottom continues, the idea of 'Inner City Sumo' seems eminently reasonable. Well, if not reasonable, per se, it certainly seems plausible.

I doubt even the writers of Alan Partridge, which at its best was worthy of comparison with Fawlty Towers, ever expected that their mad, demented, hilariously ludicrous ideas would, one day, seem tame in comparison to some of the guff which now appears on our screens.

And even by the standards of guff, Sex Box is surely the guffiest.

We're currently experiencing a cultural paroxysm which has resulted in nobody knowing nothin' about nothin'. So they pretend instead.

If Channel 4 had come up with a programme and simply said that it would involve inveterate exhibitionists having it off with each other and boasting about it, people would have pretended to be appalled.

But with the inclusion of a sexy sexologist as a co-presenter, this weird show - which I suppose is the ultimate antithesis to virtue signalling - can pretend to have some sort of educational value.

In fairness, there can be no doubt that people learned a lot about Monday night's Irish participant, Ciaran, and his Danish girlfriend, Maria. What they learned, however, is likely to follow this Domhnall Gleeson lookalike to his, um, watery grave.

To make any impression on a show which features wannabes shagging in a box is some going, but Ciaran went the extra mile.

Because, you see, it turns out that he and his girlfriend were once on a mucky weekend getaway in Paris and, well, you know yourself. Or you think you do.

Apparently, sometimes Paris sexy time just ain't sexy enough, so he admitted that he had enjoyed the kind of sexual encounter which involved activities normally reserved for the urinal. And let's leave the gory details there.

But there was one joyous, brilliant moment which actually made me proud to be Irish - and it wasn't him gloating about being treated the way a dog treats a lamppost.

No, it was the fact that he was introduced only as 'Ciaran', presumably to protect his privacy.

So, you go have sex with your girlfriend on telly, which is, I suppose, sorta fine. Then you talk about wee, which is also fine, I sorta suppose - if only in the sense that if somebody has to talk about it, I'm just glad it's not me.

But God forbid his surname should be mentioned, sure what would if the neighbours find out?

Well, Ciaran, me old mate, I reckon the neighbours already know. And your ma. And your mates. And your former school pals. And everyone else who has ever met you.

From now on, Ciaran, you don't even need a surname, you're just the freaky Irish guy with the equally freaky Danish girlfriend.

I would say he's made his bed and now he has to lie on it, but I'd be worried about the state of the bed when he left.

TV3 are always importing foreign programme ideas. God, I would pay good money to see an Irish version of this.

Midday is often good for an unintentional laugh and things are always funniest when they're trying to be serious.

We're often told that mental health is no laughing matter, although that would remove most New York Jewish comedy.

But when comedian Stephen Fry made his much maligned remarks about safe spaces and the fragility of some people, the wimmin were quick to pounce.

He was ignorant, said one of them, who then scoffed at him for mentioning Cecil Rhodes, when it was the vexed issue of a statue of Rhodes that he was actually talking about in the first place.

Another one of them who could have been Mary Byrne, but they all look alike, said his comments were... yup, you guessed it, "offensive".

People, for the last time - "offensive" is a word utterly devoid of any meaning. When people say something is "offensive" they simply mean they don't agree with it or they don't like it. But in a world of competitive victimhood, "offensive" sounds better.

For the record, I don't find Midday offensive. It's just shite.

Irish Independent

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