Wednesday 22 November 2017

Last night’s TV: Charity ICA Bootcamp


Just before Charity ICA Bootcamp last night, RTE broadcast a promo for its new autumn season. There wasn’t much in the way of detail. The programmes highlighted were shows we’d seen before, tried and trusted hits which reminded us that summer would soon be over and the quality of television would be improving again.

It was a timely reminder, because Charity ICA Bootcamp was as dire as anything RTE has shown us in its 50-year history.

A follow-up to last year’s ICA Bootcamp, in which a group of women from the city were smuggled into “the country” and asked to live like farmers, this version of the show pits 16 celebrities against each other in a battle to win money for charity.

Four finalists will be chosen over the coming nights. There will be a series of live finals next week.

As ever with these things, the term celebrity is interpreted loosely. So many shows are calling on the services of celebs currently that if you’ve ever been caught whistling tunefully on cctv, you have a reasonable shot at being asked by RTE to turn up somewhere to put your hand up a cow’s backside or live on bread and water for a week in a disused prison.

Charity ICA Bootcamp has some well-known names, like Dickie Rock, Mary McEvoy and former Green Party TD Paul Gogarty, but how many people will know who Siobhan O’Connor is, for example? Or King Kamal Ibrahim? Or Emma Waldron? Or Stephen Carter?

Last night, the featured contestants included Emma Quinlan, a burlesque dancer who did something in a basque with a snake which perplexed (to say the least of it) some of the ICA women who were forced to watch it.

For some unknown reason, each of the celebs has to do a party piece as well as performing a range of domestic tasks, a requirement which would seem to favour contestants like Dickie Rock or Crystal Swing’s Derek Burke who have made a career out of performing party pieces. But there’s probably no point trying to analyse the rules of this fiasco.

Also on hand were Peter Clohessy, the former Ireland rugby player, Paul Gogarty, the former Green TD and Dr Eva Orsmond, who declared that as far as she could see, she was the only celebrity there.

There will have been a large number of viewers wondering who Eva Orsmond is, of course, but the good doctor (you may know her from such reality shows as Operation Transformation) does not do self-awareness.

An annoying presence around the ICA training headquarters in Co Louth, Orsmond’s “doctor knows best” attitude to everything from folding sheets to preparing a platter of fish rubbed the judges (or mentors, as they are called) up the wrong way. She never stood a chance.

Neither did Paul Gogarty, whose determination not to alter his personality one iota in order to accommodate the rules of the competition, made him the most useless, and possibly the most likeable, of the contestants.

He refused to have anything to do with preparing the fish, on the basis that if he wasn’t going to eat it (he’s a vegetarian), he wasn’t going to touch it. He’s an interesting psychological study, who seems to deliberately embrace loss in order to achieve martyr status. It’s no wonder he failed to hold his Dail seat in February.

There is no drama in Charity ICA Bootcamp, no tension, no fun, no humour. This is not just down to the contestants, a dull bunch who seem to be there only because they have nowhere else to be.

The whole scenario is misconceived and is sunk utterly by a juvenile and quite frankly stupid script which is rendered unlistenable by Lucy Kennedy’s over-the-top narration.

In the end, Peter Clohessy won, but I’d long stopped caring by then. The programme is an embarrassing shambles, an insult to viewers who must wonder why they continue to fork out money for a television license every year.

RTE’s autumn schedule better deliver on what was promised in that promo last night.

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