Tuesday 22 October 2019

John Boland: We need a new name for the Island - what's love got to do with it?

 

Bronze age: the Love Island contestants are buffed and baring the kinds of bodies that most of the human race don't have
Bronze age: the Love Island contestants are buffed and baring the kinds of bodies that most of the human race don't have

John Boland

Killing Eve begins its second season on BBC1 tonight and the British media are all excited about it.

Ho hum, we say on this side of the Irish sea, RTÉ2 having got there first, so it's all over for us and we know what transpired at season's end.

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Not to be a spoilsport for any British viewers who may be holidaying here and reading this column, let's just say that the clue all along was in the drama's title - though where that will leave the third season, currently in production, is anyone's guess.

I probably won't be bothering with it anyway. A series that began brilliantly tailed off badly towards the end of the first season and became so pleased with itself that its second season became wearily repetitive.

Indeed, so formulaic had it become that each week you kept watching merely to see who Villanelle would kill off next - and to relish Jodie Comer's career-making turn as the blithe psychopath. But they should really kill the whole thing off, which of course they're not going to do once there's money to be made.

And speaking of titles, Love Island (Virgin Two), which has now embarked on its fifth season, could do with being renamed - in the immortal words of Tina Turner, what's love got to do with it?

Never mind (but do mind) that two contestants from previous seasons subsequently died by suicide, Sophie Gradon last June and Mike Thalassitis this March.

Quite aside from that, to the best of my knowledge, most people who are hoping to find a partner, whether for life or just for a fling, keep their clothes on while engaged in the search. Here, though, from the outset they're buffed, bronzed and baring the kinds of built-up and botoxed bodies that most of the human race don't have and that some of us don't even want to have.

So they're not real and they're only there because the makers of this show are intent on creating a fantasy world in which titillation triumphs over reality and the bonking prospects of semi-coherent contestants become the norm. That they've succeeded is evident from the huge ratings that last summer's edition managed and that looks likely to be repeated this year.

So what does that say about the show's fans and their appetite for such stuff? I'd rather not think about it.

Neither do I want to think about There's No Place Like Tyrone (BBC1), a three-part semi-reality series that appears to have taken its basic concept from such manufactured series as Made in Chelsea and The Only Way is Essex and transplanted it to the rural Six Counties.

Most attempts at comedy from BBC1 Northern Ireland are lamentable (even Derry Girls was overrated, though it was a masterpiece compared with Give My Head Peace and The Blame Game), but this latest is the pits.

In this week's first episode, middle-aged farmer Bobby was planning a surprise party for partner Lynda, which involved visiting a lingerie shop, blowing up balloons and buying four black sheep.

Throughout an interminable half-hour, I had no idea what I was meant to be watching.

The woeful dialogue was improvised, and then various characters came and went for no discernible reason and there wasn't even a titter to be had.

At the outset, a caption informed us that "the people in this series are all real" but that "some of what they do has been constructed purely for your entertainment". Well, at least that was a joke.

The third episode of Thatcher: A Very British Revolution (BBC2) was once again the week's most engrossing documentary,.

However it's true the first instalment of Tide (BBC2) wasn't without interest, even if the voiceover observed at the outset that the rules of our tidal world were "a complete mystery" to most of us.

And though she went on to explain them, and how they're influenced by the sun and the moon and gravitational pulls and all that, they remained a mystery to at least one viewer right to the programme's end.

Along the way, though, there was much to intrigue, with a visit to Fundy Bay in Nova Scotia, where tides can rise to more than 40 feet; to Donegal bay, where champion female surfer Easkey Britton had absorbing things to say; and to various far-flung locations, from Norway to China, where various diverse tidal conditions prevail.

This was a worthy programme and so, too, was Golden Mondello: From Grass to Glory (RTÉ1), which celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the motor racing track that opened in May 1968 on the outskirts of Naas in Co Kildare.

There was footage of Ayrton Senna, James Hunt and Jackie Stewart and lots of reminiscences from former Irish participants, many of whom would have been familiar names to aficionados.

The problem was that if you weren't already a motor racing fan, this film, despite its determinedly cheerleading tone (or perhaps because of it), wouldn't have converted you.

As an outsider, I'm afraid I found it all rather dull.

In the third episode of Gentleman Jack (BBC1), landowning Anne finally got up close and personal with aristocratic heiress Anne, though not before confiding to her aunt that "nature played a challenging trick on me, putting a bold spirit like mine in this vessel". Auntie, though, declined to take the topic further and instead innocently asked of the heiress "Does she seem disinclined to marry?"

This series is really good fun.

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