Wednesday 21 March 2018

Housing crisis? Dermot Bannon's simple plan will solve it for us...

Architects of our own downfall: the older generation of homeowners needs to downsize, according to Dermot Bannon
Architects of our own downfall: the older generation of homeowners needs to downsize, according to Dermot Bannon
Hannah and James with Dermot Bannon on Room to Improve. Image: RTE

John Boland

Monday night's second instalment of Ireland's Property Crisis (RTÉ One) was immediately followed by Claire Byrne Live, during which Dermot Bannon offered a solution to the problem.

Having secured the future of the Irish glass industry with his Room to Improve designs (Let there be light!), the station's favourite - indeed, only - architect had now come up with what Claire called "a simple plan" for boosting housing supply and creating affordable homes.

According to Dermot, there's too much space between our urban houses, so we need to fill these spaces with extra houses, and if that means getting rid of silly gardens or the bits between detached Foxrock mansions or building another couple of storeys on top of your semi-d, so be it.

Also there are far too many people living in four-bedroom houses after the kids have left home, leaving behind bedrooms that are no longer being used. These people, most of them belonging to an older generation, should downsize or find an alternative kind of accommodation. He didn't say where these downsized houses were to be found, but he did enthuse about "retirement communities", as if we all lived in Florida.

That, at any rate, seemed to be the essential gist of the ever-upbeat Dermot's simple plan, though somehow I don't see it being rushed through the Oireachtas for immediate implementation. Maybe he should stick to glasshouses.

Elsewhere on this edition of Claire Byrne Live, the story of Trevor Deely, who disappeared in the Baggot Street area of Dublin in December 2000, was addressed, with Trevor's sister Michelle eloquently recalling her long-lost sibling and asking for information either from or about the mysterious man who features in CCTV footage of Trevor on the night he vanished.

She also spoke of the €100,000 reward that's now being offered for significant information, though this wasn't mentioned in Donal MacIntyre Unsolved: Trevor Deely (3e, Monday), no doubt because this hour-long documentary was completed before the reward was announced.

But we did get to learn of the hosting journalist's current lofty status. "I'm criminologist Donal MacIntyrne," he grandly announced at the outset before introducing us to his "team of unrivalled specialist investigators" - who consisted of a former Scotland Yard guy and an academic from Birmingham university.

These were both "my cold-case team" and "my team of seasoned investigators", but after a long hour it turned out that they knew no more than you or I about what had happened to Trevor. At the very end, the Scotland Yard guy confessed that "there's too much we don't know to make a judgement call", while all Donal could come up with was that there was "a real possibility of foul play" and that Trevor had simply been "in the wrong place at the wrong time". He won't get a reward of €100,000 for that.

The Trip to Spain (Sky Atlantic, Thursday), which accompanies Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on an Iberian culinary tour, is just as engaging as its predecessors, The Trip and The Trip to Italy. Playing loose versions of themselves, the duo bicker, banter, score points off each other and give wicked impersonations of everyone from Roger Moore and Anthony Hopkins to Elvis Costello and Mick Jagger.

In the first two episodes, Coogan does a lot of griping about how his cherished movie Philomena didn't win any Oscars, but the chat also takes in a myriad of other subjects, not least ageing. "We're at the sweet spot in our lives," the 51-year-old Coogan optimistically affirms, with his travelling companion enthusing about "two middle-aged men who are looking for adventure".

However, it's middle-aged male insecurity that's often to the fore in a series that doesn't shirk melancholy and yet manages to be very funny, and very endearing, too.

Better Call Saul (Netflix) returned for a third season, though little happened in this week's first episode. No matter, because this Vince Gilligan prequel to Breaking Bad has been one of the quirky joys of cable drama, and looks set to remain so.

The taciturn Mike was more impassive than ever as he dismantled his car in an effort to find out who'd been tracking him. These sequences were daring in their wordlessness, but eerily powerful too, while elsewhere Saul/Jimmy seemed haplessly unaware of his brother's vengeful mission to bring him down.

Indeed, things don't seem too promising for the resourceful Jimmy, with an airforce captain whom he'd scammed warning him that "the wheel is going to turn - it always does". And Jimmy's relationship with Kim (the marvellous Rhea Seehorn) seems on very uncertain ground.

Meanwhile Gilligan and his editors have yet again filled the screen with the arresting visual images (empty landscapes, demolition yards, gleaming corporate offices) that help to make this series so distinctive.

The sixth season of Homeland (RTÉ2, Tuesday) came to an end with a chilly dying fall. The violent death of one of this series' best loved character may have provided the shock, but it was the aftermath that provided the creeps.

The dastardly Dar Adal, brilliantly played by F Murray Abraham, may have been the villain whom everyone loved to hate, but what about the new female president-elect, who at the end revealed herself to be a fascist intent on creating a surveillance state?

"There's something off about her," Dar Adal told Saul towards the end, "something distinctly un-American", and as I watched her in cahoots with her sinister chief of staff (a repellent Linus Roach), the spectres of Trump and Bannon made me shudder.

Indo Review

Entertainment Newsletter

Going out? Staying in? From great gigs to film reviews and listings, entertainment has you covered.

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment