Tuesday 16 January 2018

Goodbye House: RTE's latest reality show is kind of terrible but also sweet and touching

Goodbye House, RTE One, The Woods family
Goodbye House, RTE One, The Woods family
Goodbye House, RTE One, The Woods family
Rosemarie Woods, Goodbye House, RTE One
Goodbye House, RTE One, The Woods family
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Goodbye House, which aired on RTE One on Monday night, is a reality TV show.

I know, that’s a pretty uninspiring opening sentence, and you’re there thinking, “Ugh – another reality TV programme. How many does that make, seven million?”

And you’d be right, both to think that and in your rough estimation of the amount of different shows made in this genre. (To be accurate, it’s actually 7,00,534 at last count.)

As is customary, Goodbye House has a spin of sorts on a tried-and-trusted format. In this case, the format is interior design/general house-related stuff, with a sprinkling on fly-on-the-wall and a smattering of family dynamics.

Rosemarie Woods, Goodbye House, RTE One
Rosemarie Woods, Goodbye House, RTE One

And the twist?

Rosemarie Woods is changing house – and her new one will be chosen by her three kids, as opposed to the usual experts with braying voices, nasally put-on SoCoDu accents and too much inner confidence that you usually find in these people.

The children are Church of Ireland minister Tanya, truck driver Clive and engineer Russell – and none of them are children. They’re all in early middle-age, which means a clatter of grandchildren, as well as her own offspring, descend on Rosemarie’s house on a regular basis.

She’s a genial, kind-hearted woman, who seems to be the centre of the Woods family universe (minding smallies, cooking dinner for the three abovementioned, school runs, even doing the ironing).

Rosemarie and her husband Wilbert bought this house in Virginia, Co Cavan 18 years ago to raise their brood. Tragically, he died just two years later. Now that said brood are well and truly risen, she feels it’s time to sell the old family home and move on to somewhere smaller, handier – and with less memories of her late husband.

So Tanya, Clive and Russell each source somewhere they think will suit. (Rather amusingly, Tanya’s main criterion is that it will allow Rosemarie to continue picking her kids up from school.)

And in the end, the good lady chose…yep, the one that will allow her to continue picking Tanya’s kids up from school. Sure, someone has to do it, I suppose.

From a critical POV, Goodbye House was kind of terrible, in that it was silly and had no real point. The story of Rosemarie and her husband, and children and grandchildren, was sweet and touching, and could have made a nice, heartwarming one-off documentary. But this introduction of a kind of gameshow or contest element undercut that.

Goodbye House, RTE One, The Woods family
Goodbye House, RTE One, The Woods family

I guess producers feel that everything needs a gimmick nowadays to sell to an audience; that no story will hold our attention on its own merits. Which is somewhat patronising and very annoying.

On the other hand, though, the people involved were just so damn likeable that, by the end, I was “involved” to some degree: interested in how things would pan out, rooting for Team Clive (go go go!), and most of all, caring about Rosemarie and her happiness.

She’s the centre of her family, but she was also the centre of this show. She was the heart and soul of Goodbye House.

Final mark, then? C– for the gimmick, A for Rosemarie and the rest of the Woods clan, giving us a B– overall.

Goodbye House, Monday, RTE One, 9.35pm.

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