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WAGs, swingers, fetishists -- it's a feast of tabloid telly

WESTSIDE slappers, southside WAGs and northside hens, not to mention swingers, doggers, fetishists and vice girls -- yes, it can only be TV3's spring schedule.

And the channel's unashamedly tabloid approach to programming must be paying off because it boasts of being the only Irish broadcaster to have increased its share of the adult market in the last year.

Adult, of course, doesn't necessarily mean grown-up and I don't think grown-ups are the target audience for 'Southside Housewives' in which "wannabe WAGs" will be "living the dream with handsome husbands, immaculate homes and a fabulous wardrobe". Or, indeed, for 'More Sex, Please, We're Irish', in which viewers will learn of "the explosion of alternative sexual practices in Irish bedrooms".

This is to be fronted by TV3's investigative stalwart, Paul Connolly, who'll also be presenting a special expose called 'Ireland's Vice Girls', in which he "discovers that the prostitution industry in Ireland is alive and well". Not many people know that.

But lest you think that TV3 leans only towards the lurid, the very proper Nora Owen will be quiz mistress in an Irish version of 'Mastermind', though the contestants will be youngsters rather than adults.

'The Irish Bake-Off' will be lifting (sorry, adapting) another successful BBC format, while Alan Hughes's 'Family Fortunes' will be a local version of the longstanding ITV winner.

And the channel is all excited about the four-part 'Titanic', in which 'Downton Abbey' creator and scriptwriter Julian Fellowes sets out to tell the story "not just of a single ship but of an entire society". TV3 is a co-producer in this lavish endeavour to mark the centenary of the liner's sinking.

What else? Well, for those who thought 'Dallas' was a soap opera from the distant past, there's a new series on the way featuring JR, Bobby and Sue Ellen, along with a younger brood of Ewings. Ye gods.

And those who imagined that 'Prime Suspect' would be unthinkable without Helen Mirren better think again because a US version, set in New York and starring Maria Bello in the Mirren role, is another of TV3's spring highlights.

Irish Independent