Monday 20 November 2017

Ian O'Doherty: Don't judge me, but I love the Mammies

Angry BoysBBC Three
Paul Flynn: Irish FoodRTÉ 1

Okay -- it's wet, it's bloody cold. And even though we're still in the middle of August -- normally a time of the year associated with such quaint notions as... a summer -- at least we all know that we can rely on one seasonable staple: a terrible RTÉ 'celebrity charity' show,

This year, we have Charity ICA Bootcamp which features 16 so-called celebs being forced the indignity of having to endure life outside Dublin 4.

Oh, the shock, the horror of having to pretend to spend some time in the country where they probably don't even have broadband.

Y'know, a rural area, where ruddy-cheeked local women try to teach people as, ahem, diverse as former Green TD Paul Gogarty and the impressively and frankly rather improbably non-wrinkled show band singer Dickie Rock, how to cook a chicken.

Gogarty wouldn't cook it, as far as I can remember, because like the rest of the audience at that stage I'd simply tuned out, but he seemed to have some bizarre Green excuse for not doing the task.

Meanwhile, Dickie Rock seemed vaguely confused at every task that was presented to him.

But what makes this show, unlike every other summer 'celeb' 'charity' reality show, is the judges -- really, really, terrifying judges.

In fact, they are the most terrifying judges of all -- Middle-Aged Women.

Decades long stalwarts of the ICA, Josephine, Imogen and Marie -- although for some strange reason I just want to call them all 'Mammy' -- have been, quite frankly, the weirdest Irish TV hit of the year.

I know it sounds wrong, in fact I'm well aware that such an opinion is probably illegal, but here goes: I have no interest in the so-called 'celebrities' involved -- these three women are the stars of the show.

Please don't hate me for that.

Anyone who has seen the astonishingly good Australian comedy/drama Summer Heights High will know that the show's creator/writer/main actor/ and general organiser, Chris Lilley, is about as close to a modern-day TV genius as you can get without being called Chris Morris.

Honestly, he really is that good -- and that kind of praise doesn't come easy.

His latest deranged, inspired, infuriating, unbelievably racially offensive and hysterically funny project TV project Angry Boys has just finished its first season -- but is due to start again next week.

It's a mockumentary featuring everything from a Japanese skating prodigy with a mother who is quite possibly the scariest female character ever committed to screen since Kathy Bates in Misery to the former champion surfer who is -- quite literally -- missing some testicular fortitude.

Angry Boys is an astonishingly beautifully written piece of work that, despite the dark subtext to some of the scripts -- and, believe me, some of them are very dark -- actually ends up being remarkably uplifting in the end.

After all, as we all know, comedy this dark needs a lot of heart to stop it from being simply depressing.

Like all culture vultures and everyone who professes to loathe reality TV, I have a guilty secret: I suppose it's the televisual equivalent of a proud vegetarian who, when nobody else is looking, secretly eats Big Macs at night.

And my guilty secret? Well, it has to be the best reality/competition show ever, Survivor, which is just winding up on TG4 as we speak.

If ever one individual programme proved how the States and Britain are mentally, psychologically and morally completely alien to each other, it's this programme.

On British shows, such as Big Brother -- which we can now look forward to seeing on C5 in the next few weeks -- the idea of shafting someone by name is seen as being not the done thing.

On the other hand, on the American shows, not screwing a fellow competitor is seen as the action of a fool.

TG4 has been arguably the finest Irish network since it started up. Hand on heart, I wrote negatively about it from the get-go and was quite comprehensively proved wrong.

And the fact that they're ahead of the curve on a show like Survivor proves that, almost uniquely, it's a TV network run by people who actually like television.

I know, it seems like a strange idea, but it does happen.

There are few more phenomenally annoying modern creations than the TV chef.

You know the drill, the kind of guy who would turn you into a vegetarian just to spite him.

But, I have to say, when you watch the rather excellent Paul Flynn: Irish Food on a Tuesday you get a feeling of the . . . warm and fuzzies.

He manages to combine the best of Irish produce whilst at the same time coming across as if he is genuinely having a laugh and -- dare we say it -- actually enjoying himself.

Second helpings, please.

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