| 11°C Dublin

Battle to escape this reality TV

"There's not much of an atmosphere going on here," complained Rachel from Cavan, her face drooping like a melting ice pop, in Battle of the Bridesmaids.

Is that so, Rachel? You should have been sitting where I was, love. Believe me, it was much, much worse -- like being gaffer-taped to the armchair for an hour while some demented stranger forced you to watch their camera phone videos.

Battle of the Bridesmaids, in case you missed it last week due to the small matter of some fantastic football, is TV3's new reality show. It's a title that promises drunken, tear-stained, snot-filled brawling outside nightclubs at three in the morning.

SQUEEEEEAL!!! Girl-fight, girl-fight!

Alas, what it actually delivers is, like TV3's other recent entry in the reality genre, the unwatchable Dublin Housewives, something that's almost transcendentally dull.

The big boast about Battle of the Bridesmaids is that it's a home-grown product. In other words, not a remake of something by the BBC, ITV or Channel 4. This view largely depends on how you define "original".

Three women each get to organise a separate hen party for their sister, best friend, whoever. In each case the other two come along. After the parties, they have a good old bitch and backstab, and then score the other one's effort out of 100. The one with the most points wins a honeymoon package for the couple and also pockets €1,000.

In other words, it's Come Whine With Me, but without the funny narration by Dave Lamb. Instead, we get the dim-witted babble of JP Gilbourne, Ray Foley's radio sidekick.

In addition to the aforementioned Rachel, there was Sarah from Tallaght and Laura from Letterkenny. Rachel's night out consisted of having everyone dress up in chicken suits (chicken suits, hens, geddit?) as they rolled from pub to pub to nightclub. (I'm 49 years of age. I'm spending Wednesday evening watching a bunch of women capering around in chicken suits. Where did my life go wrong?)

Then came Sarah, who was confident of winning. She hired a firm to treat the women to an evening of pampering at her home, complete with a six-packed, Chippendales-style hunk in a bow tie and not much else who handed the hens cocktails as they arrived.

Later on, he fed them chocolate by hand. Rachel and Laura complained that it was demeaning having chocolate smeared all over your gob. Still, at least it kept them quiet for a few minutes while I struggled to escape from the gaffer tape.

Finally, Laura, who turned out to be something of a control freak. Her Brazilian-themed party wasn't so much a night out as a military operation involving strictly regimented salsa dancing, indoor football and, er, a trip to a shooting range to fire arrows at boards and riddle paper targets with machine-guns.

It was around this point that Rachel made her lack-of-an-atmosphere comment. "It's going downhill rapidly," she added. "Shooting, like, I dunno . . . it's not really a girl thing," said an unimpressed Sarah.

Inevitably, Laura finished last and Sarah won. She wept when she got the check for a grand. I wept, too, but for reasons to do with the enervation of the soul.

TV3 is hoping to sell Battle of the Bridesmaids on the international market. They'd better add some drunken, tear-stained, snot-filled brawling outside nightclubs at three in the morning first.

It's easy what you can forget when you're wrapped up in the football. Such as how miserably, grindingly repetitive EastEnders has become. It was the night before the wedding of Janine and Michael (Skeletor with Oedipal issues).

Diane Butcher returned. She'd brought a special "present" with her: Ricky Butcher. Did anyone even notice Walford's pre-eminent inveterate idiot had been away?

Meanwhile, Michael continues to torment the bipolar Jean, whose savings he's stolen, along with the money from the Queen Vic. Probably the most repellent element of EastEnders is the way it repeatedly uses serious mental illness for plotlines. Wretched.

battle of the bridesmaids HIIII eastenders HIIII