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A totes predictable look back at the year

Under the steerage of its new controller Bill Malone, RTE2 finally came good this year.

After years of dastardly near misses, there were eventually some on-target shots. First up there was the six-month selfie that was Connected, Maia Dunphy's pleasant documentary series What Women Want and a whole lotta Eoghan McDermott. Who better, then, to see off 2014 with a rollicking recap than the bequiffed bro of the mo?

End of year programmes are a bit of a doddle for TV stations. Basically, here's the gist; you get your hands on a whole pile of archive footage, assemble some talking heads to spew out a few humorous non-sequiturs over them and repackage the lot with some snazzy editing. Sure enough, RTE2 followed this tried-and-tested pattern.

In their perennial quest to connect with 'the kids', some particularly dim-witted type landed on the title Totes 2014. Isn't 'totes' a bit... 2009?

And so the last 12 months were regurgitated via the wisdom of Bernard O'Shea, Jennifer Maguire, Panti, Vogue McFadden, Kevin McGahern and Bressie. And wisdom from the jaws of luminaries it wasn't. Hoping for some fresh insight? You were left wanting. To wit: "Rory McIlroy is one ugly man," opines Jennifer Maguire with steely conviction. "She should have gotten planning permission for that arse… can I say arse?" goes O'Shea of Kim Kardashian. Seismic stuff alright.

The show wasn't without its genuine insights, mind: according to Darren Kennedy, Conchita Wurst's beard feels like a "Care Bear".


Ultimately, Totes 2014 was a spirited, high-energy romp through the year's headlines, but this talking heads format is as knackered as Kim Kardashian's bum-oiler.

How disheartening that a TV station that has taken a few risks and punts of late would revert so dully to form. A zesty Big Fat Quiz-type special would have been much better value for money.

Meanwhile, anyone experiencing X Factor cold turkey on top of their cold turkey sambos got a late Christmas present… eh, kinda. The X Factor Winner's Story 2014 (catchy title, lads) was an hour-long special ostensibly documenting Ben Haenow's life-changing journey from his HiAce van to the dizzying heights of life as a puppet in Simon Cowell's pop factory. Again, the show was a bloated, overblown regurgitation of old footage.

Talking-head interviews by the judges attempted - and failed - to inject a semblance of mythology into what became a really unremarkable journey in the scheme of things. "They liked him, we liked him… we knew we were onto something," offers Louis Walsh. Cowell isn't much more informative than that: "I was listening back to the audition and I thought, 'you know what? This man could win the whole show'." Right.

Haenow himself can hardly be counted on to provide fresh insight: "Waiting on the stage to hear who was going through to the final, I was in bits," he reveals. Spoiler alert: he's so thrilled with his brand new life that he could pinch himself.

That you could set your watch to Haenow's 15 minutes of fame is a given. The contestants have become an interchangeable set of nice, but wholly forgettable folks… and that's why a show like this rings hollow and boring.

It did leave me with one burning question, mind. Has Simon Cowell gone and gotten himself some very, very nice eyelash extensions?