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Smells like teen hysterics

At the outset of Ireland's Pimped Out Kids: Who's At Fault? (TV3), reporter Ciara Doherty assured us that her job wasn't "to lecture but to investigate", yet by the end of the programme I felt as if the Daily Mail had been ranting at me for an hour.

Ciara's quest was to discover "how and why our children are being sexualised" and this led her to Dublin's Henry Street, where she waved padded bras and leopard-skin shorts in the faces of various passers-by, who duly expressed shock and horror when told that high-street stores were selling these items to nine-year-olds.

Other interviewees were less accommodating. "It's just pure fun," the proprietor of an Essex-based beauty salon for children insisted, a sentiment echoed by the organiser of a UK children's beauty pageant, who told Ciara that it was "just a load of fun".

However, Ciara clearly thought otherwise, tut-tutting over "hypersexualised" images in pop videos ("You'd expect them to receive an over-18 rating," she spluttered) and gritting her teeth to read out innuendo-laden lyrics from Lady Gaga and Rihanna about chains and whips and disco sticks.

A couple of interviews with psychologists lent a semblance of depth to the proceedings, but they didn't hide the fact that Ciara's crusade was undermined on two fronts, one of which was her delusion that there was anything new about it, when in fact various media outlets have been banging on about such concerns for years -- not least the Mail, whose archive assistance was acknowledged in the end titles.

Secondly, the film kept cutting away from Ciara to bombard us with shots of female pop stars and glamour models bursting out of their clothes -- the classic tabloid tactic of drooling over the depravity that's being denounced. Expect more of the same in next week's concluding instalment.

Children were also at the heart of Fifteen Kids and Counting (Channel 4), which was lent an added resonance by an item on Pat Kenny's radio show the following morning.

This concerned a book called Better Never to Have Been by South African philosopher David Benatar, who argues that bringing more children into this difficult and painful world is the selfish act of irresponsibly egotistic parents.

Clearly, neither of the couples featured in the documentary had read the book, Noel and Sue being the proud parents of 14 children (with a fifteenth on the way) and Mike and Tanya showing no signs of stopping after nine births (with twins to come), even though Tanya has also had to endure eight miscarriages.

So why this compulsion to procreate? Well, Mike and Tanya are anti-contraception Catholics who, in Mike's words, "see children as a blessing and don't see why we should stop being blessed".

Noel and Sue, for their part, seemed to be over-compensating for abandonment issues -- both of them were given up for adoption as babies.

Sue's daughter observed that her mother was "addicted" to pregnancy, a diagnosis confirmed by Sue herself, who marvelled that "it's like your own personal drug, having babies". Less addicted viewers felt like advising both husbands to put a knot in it.

TG4's latest bid to get us all speaking Irish comes in the form of An G Team, a reality contest in which 12 towns not hitherto noted for their linguistic nationalism aim to be speaking through their Erse by the time the series ends.

Among the judges is former education minister Mary Hanafin, who was handed her political P60 by the voters of Dun Laoghaire- Rathdown last February.

Nice to see her in gainful employment again and retaining her schoolmistressy ways while delivering a thumbs down to the Newcastle West applicants.

Another judge is musician Rossa Ó Snodaigh, who inscrutably declared of the €40,000 first prize that it was "a lot of money in any language but it's huge if you say it in Irish".

He also declared the Irish language was of immense importance because "the personality of the Irish people and their unique place in the world is contained within it".

That's complete bollocks, even if you say it in Irish.

Richard Wilson on Hold (Channel 4) featured the Victor Meldrew actor as he fumed for an hour about the automated phone services and supermarket checkouts that drive most of us nuts.

"Everywhere I turn," he railed, "humans are being replaced by machines", and then he went on to record how, in the name of corporate profit, these machines are failing us in the basic duties they're meant to perform.

The programme was entertaining for about 20 minutes, after which the law of diminishing returns took its inexorable toll.

New Girl (Channel 4), in which jilted lover Zooey Deschanel shares a flat with three guys, has been praised as the new Friends but that's to give it more than its due.

The six flatmates in Friends all had distinct personalities, whereas the three guys here seem interchangeable. As for Deschanel, she's supposed to be adorably kooky, but I'm afraid I just found her annoying. Oh, and the script isn't funny.

Indo Review