Friday 26 April 2019

Podge & Rodge review: 'It’s hard to see how this pretty limited shtick can be stretched out over a whole series'

Ballydung Manor is flinging open its doors once again
Ballydung Manor is flinging open its doors once again
Podge & Rodge with their co-host Doireann Garrihy
Podge and Rodge.
The Podge & Rodge Show co-host Doireann Garrihy
Podge and Rodge
Bogbrats Podge & Rodge are a huge hit with audiences
Doireann Garrihy. Picture Andres Poveda
Doireann Garrihy, Ailbhe Garihy and Aoibhin Garrihy at Three’s Made by Music base at Electric Picnic. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Return: Lucy Kennedy with Podge and Rodge
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Wow – I genuinely had no idea what a long and successful career it’s been for Podge and Rodge. Doing some Googling ahead of their return to RTE tonight, after a hiatus of eight years, I discovered that Mick O’Hara and Ciaran Morrison’s creations have almost surpassed their other famous set of oddball brothers, Zig and Zag.

Pádraig Judas O’Leprosy and Rodraig Spartacus O’Leprosy began life, oddly enough, on kids’ show The Den, way back in 1990. Seven years later, they’d graduated to their own show, the filthy and funny Scare at Bedtime.

That ran for nine years, and has sold on to the UK and US. They’ve also done the top-rated Podge and Rodge Show for four years, Podge and Rodge’s TV Bodges, Ballydung Radio, Podge & Rodge’s Stickit Inn, a Christmas special, two New Year’s specials, People in Need, the stage shows Desperate for Housewives and It’s a Podge and Rodge Show…Get Me Outta Here!, hosted the Meteor Awards, won various awards, released DVD collections, written a column in The Star and edited the RTÉ Guide for charity.

Jaysus. Am I leaving anything out there? Oh yeah, there was the bestselling book in 2007, The Ballydung Bible.

The Podge & Rodge Show co-host Doireann Garrihy
The Podge & Rodge Show co-host Doireann Garrihy

Not bad for a revolting pair of matricidal weirdoes. And now, as mentioned, they’re back with a new series of The Podge & Rodge Show on RTÉ2.

Co-hosted by Doireann “sister of Aoibhín” Garrihy they’ve already done that irksome RTÉ thing of plugging a programme in-house, with an appearance on The Ray D’Arcy Show last weekend. But I guess if we can forgive someone for killing their own mother, we can forgive them anything.

This half-hour show admitted at the beginning that it’d been a while since they last – ahem – graced our screens, with a bit of banter about how much things have changed. The first segment, titled “The Feckin’ State of the Nation”, had Doireann and the gruesome twosome arguing about the good and bad changes to Ireland since 2010.

Rather annoyingly, this essentially boiled down to a self-congratulatory pat on the back for “progressive” causes such as legalising abortion and same-sex marriage. I voted for both but Jesus Christ, lads, is anywhere safe from liberal pieties nowadays? Even Podge and Rodge are now on-board with the hive-mind.

I’m not saying they should have made jokes about abortion – though a truly outré show probably would have – but there is an alternative approach. You can ignore politics and “social issues”. In fact, that’s mostly why people tune into gibberish like Podge and Rodge: it has nothing to do with the real world.

Anyway. Better were the fact that they were dressed as Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, which made me chuckle; and Podge (or Rodge)’s line about Doireann – they kept calling her Doreen – being “a #MeToo waiting to happen”.

The guests were someone or other called Josh ‘JP’ Patterson, introduced as “Binky’s run-away baby daddy from Made in Chelsea”: one of those situations where I recognise some of the words, but the full sentence makes absolutely no sense. The lads were admirably abusive to him – “Would you ever go out with a poor person? Your show is a load of old shite isn’t it?” – and JP, in fairness, seemed to take it in good spirits.

Also on was Erin “sister of Conor” McGregor. They slagged her off about only being famous for her brother. They slagged off her oddly terrifying dancing on DWTS and at some Costa del Sangria beach resort. They slagged her off, full-stop. She was a good enough sport too.

There was also a pretty pointless bit, “Interesting stuff that isn’t porn”, wherein we saw footage of zits being squeezed. No fooling, that’s all it was.

Overall, the programme was fitfully amusing, but mostly (and surprisingly) dull. It’s hard to see how this pretty limited shtick can be stretched out over a whole series. Then again, I probably said the exact same thing when the show began its previous run…and continued running for five seasons. So what do I know?

To be honest, I always much preferred A Scare at Bedtime. That was clever, nasty, shocking and funny, properly dark entertainment for grown-ups: Roald Dahl stories re-imagined by hillbilly sociopaths.

By contrast, The Podge and Rodge Show – this iteration and the previous one – feels neutered somehow. It feels blander and smoothed-down and, ultimately, kind of boring.

We played out with Le Galaxie doing a decent cover of Video Killed the Radio Star. A Scare at Bedtime would have ended with the band murdering each other, before Podge and Rodge played volleyball with someone’s severed head. Now that’s goddamn entertainment.

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