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A welcome helping of Lamb

The novelty of sitting in on the dinner parties of others on Celebrity Come Dine With Me has, over time, begun to evoke the tedious ennui of actual dinner parties. Luckily, we still have hilariously obnoxious narrator Dave Lamb to keep us company. The man is a sarcastic savant genius. Last night, for example, a shot of some chickens in a field was accompanied by Lamb bellowing apropos of nothing: "NICE COCK!" (Maybe you had to be there.)

Lamb even describes food sarcastically. From his lips, the words "ORIENTAL DUCK SALAD!" sound like a snarky in-joke based on insider knowledge of the Asian poultry industry. That said, sometimes I fear the producers are simply using a Dave-Lamb-ometer, which emits suitably sarcastic phrases at the push of a button. "OH YEAH, THAT'LL WORK!" (when someone does something) "IF YOU SAY SO!" (when someone says something) "POOR DELUDED FOOL!" (always relevant on Celebrity Come Dine With Me).


The main problem with the Irish version, however, is the absolutely meaningless nature of the word "celebrity" in a country as big as a medium-sized field. More people probably know model Madeline Mulqueen as "Madeline from down the street" than know her as the girl from the Rubber Bandits' Horse Outside video (her claim to fame). Meanwhile, for this reviewer, publisher Michael O'Doherty is quite literally "Michael from over the page" (MOD is a columnist with the Herald).

Anyway, MOD and Mad are accompanied by the usual wannabes (model Pippa O'Connor), has-beens (likeable ex-rugby player Shane Byrne) and nearly-weres (former golf WAG Holly Sweeney) who have settled for the shadowy half-life of Irish celebrity and the competitive dinner party circuit.

The last series was enlivened by the genuine animosity between Paul Martin and Brian Kennedy. Here we get entertaining panto-villain MOD trying to wrangle offence from more soporific co-diners. "Shane, your hair, what the f**k?" he asks mulleted Shane on Monday, channelling Dorothy Parker. "Astrology, it's utter bollocks," he says on Wednesday, channelling Oscar Wilde to engage Pippa, a committed bollocksologist, in metaphysical debate.

Then towards the end of a week of costume faux-pas, collapsed pavlovas and minor backbiting, MOD tells a villainous anecdote about filling a flatmate's shoes with jam. Later there's a funny, self-aware sequence in which MOD (who came last) sits on Shane Byrne's stairs, ominously dipping a spoon into a pot of jam to the strains of Bob Marley's Jammin. I suspect a superior spin-off programme is already in the works -- Jammin' with MOD, in which the nefarious publishing magnate visits jam-related vengeance on his enemies.

Ricky Gervais's new comedy pilot, Derek, is about an intellectually disabled man (Gervais) who works in a retirement home alongside a grumpy caretaker, Dougie (Karl Pilkington) and a kind nurse, Hannah (Kerry Godliman). It's been decried as an offensive joke at the expense of the disabled. I don't think it is. At its best it's a warm Mike Leigh-style celebration of good-hearted outsiders.


Unfortunately, Gervais has also shoe-horned in some dubious slapstick (Derek falls into a pond; Derek sits on an apple crumble) as though afraid of creating something overly subtle. It would work better without these bits, but don't believe the bad press -- it's a surprisingly gentle dramedy trying to find its feet.

Breakout Kings is the most recent drama in which crimes are solved by unlikely sorts (historically these include archaeologists, mathematicians, bush kangaroos and littlest hobos).

Here a US marshal frees convicts to help track down prison-escapees -- an idea that couldn't possibly backfire. This representative selection of humanity: a nerd, a sexy lady, a streetwise slang-slinger, a troubled leader and a baldy tough guy (a potential group for Come Dine With Me, really), track down evil baddies who'd spoon jam into your shoes if given a chance. It's ridiculous.

Celebrity Come Dine with Me HHIII


Breakout Kings HIIII