Wednesday 13 December 2017

Last night’s TV: Eurovision and sex education

Diarmuid Doyle on our Eurovision obsession and the rabbit-like frolics of our Northern cousins

A song by Johnny Logan provided one of the questions for University Challenge on Monday night. There’s a sentence no journalist ever expected he would have to write.

Logan featured in a round of musical questions during which contestants were asked to guess the country and the decade from which particular Eurovision Song Contest winners were taken.

Soon enough, the sound of Hold Me Now filled the BBC2 studio. The students from the University of Newcastle thought it was Swiss.

Logan also turned up on last week’s A Little Bit Eurovision, a badly-timed series of interviews with our victorious contestants, from Dana to Eimear Quinn, which would have made much more sense in May in the run-up to Jedward’s performance in Germany.

He featured on last night’s show on Linda Martin as well, having written the two songs - Terminal 3 and Why Me? - which Martin performed at the Eurovision Song Contest.

If the story of the Irish at the Eurovision always comes back to Logan’s door, Martin is not far behind in her dedication to the cause. Not including the two times she actually made it all the way to the final, she tried on seven occasions, either solo or with her band Chips, to represent Ireland.

A Little Bit Eurovision told the story of that obsession, although not in any way that was interesting.

Whereas Logan had spoken honestly in last week’s programme about the strained relationship with a father he adored, about how his career tanked after his first Eurovision success, and about going off the rails for a time in his career, Martin’s story never got beyond the “Sure it was only a bit of craic really” stage.

If we learned anything about her, it was that she was a stunningly beautiful teenager from Northern Ireland who crossed the border to seek fame and fortune and was immediately captured by stylists who turned her into a caricature of what a 70s and 80s pop star should look like.

Only now, relaxed and happy as she approaches 60, has that natural beauty been allowed to return. She has a fascinating personal story to tell, but A Little Bit Eurovision had no interest in looking for it.

Other happy Northerners got a mention on the telly last night as well.

According to a recent survey, people in Northern Ireland are more likely than anyone else in the UK to have sex more than once a day, a consequence of the peace process Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson have obviously been keeping to themselves. Who knew that when all those peace protestors were walking around brandishing banners proclaiming “Make Love Not War” their message was getting through?

The statistic was included in The Sex Education Show, a truly bizarre series on, you’ve guessed it, Channel 4.

Preceded by the obligatory warning about full-frontal nudity and sexual themes, it’s on at 8pm every Tuesday, well before the watershed, and is aimed at young people in a “look at us, we’re down with the kids” kind of a way.

In your wildest dreams, you could never imagine a programme like this on RTE. This is not meant as a criticism of RTE. Last night, the show shipped up in York High School, a mixed secondary school in West Yorkshire to discuss male puberty.

The discussion involved almost every boy and girl in the school gathering in the assembly hall to look at four naked men in their 20s and discuss hairiness and penis size. It was in no way illuminating, and the teenagers involved didn’t appear to find out anything important they didn’t know already.

The show also featured the results of its sex survey (including the news about the rabbit-like frolics of our Northern cousins), a short piece on sex amongst the blind and an interesting feature (for parents) on sites like Omegle and Chat Roulette, on which naked men with webcams do things that no mam or dad ever wants their teenager to see.

That turned out to be an educational few minutes, particularly for the featured parents who had no idea that such things were available on the internet.

Isn’t that just the way of it these days? The children know everything about sex. It’s the parents who need to be educated.

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