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Calm Coleman bores us

SUPERNANNY Jo Frost has her naughty step.

Jamie Oliver has his Dream School.

Clinical psychologist David Coleman has Kerry.

Yet even with that vast expanse of beautiful landscape at his disposal, Coleman insists on opening every episode of Families in the Wild with the line: "Sometimes it's hard to see the wood for the trees."

I've noticed Coleman is not wearing his glasses for this series.

Perhaps he should have gone to Specsavers, because I have no trouble at all seeing the wood.

Coleman is the wood.

He's as wooden as a teak wardrobe -- the only significant difference being that teak wardrobes aren't in the habit of delivering smug, solemn platitudes to families busy ripping one another to pieces.

Three episodes into Families in the Wild, with just one more to go, the three families Coleman has dragged off to Kerry for a week of intensive therapy and a bit of outdoor adventure sport -- aimed at curing their dysfunctional tendencies and getting them to bond --are still ripping one another to pieces, albeit not with the same frequency they were at the beginning.

I'm guessing this has less to do with Coleman's miraculous powers of persuasion and almost supernatural ability to calm a storm, than with the fact that the families have just been worn down by him constantly lecturing them in that soft, oh-so-reasonable voice of his.

I know I have.

We're used at this stage to programmes featuring experts who march into people's homes, dish up their patented stir-and-serve solution and then march back out again, mission accomplished, usually to the accompaniment of swelling, emotional music.

Few of them, however, are quite as sanctimonious or self-satisfied as Coleman.

When he's not carving out cliches about wood and trees, he's saying things like: "I think we need to be especially patient with each other."

At one point last night, he tried to be especially patient with 14-year-old Alex.

He has face-piercings and a shock of red through his hair as fierce as his temper, and has been giving his mother, Stephanie, a hard time.

"You have a way of saying the most hurtful things to her, do you know that?" cooed Coleman.

"Yeah, kinda," Alex kinda, sorta agreed. It was the understatement of this or any other week, given that just a few days earlier (ie, in the first episode) we saw Alex screaming at Stephanie that she was a "f***ing c***".

The formula of Families in the Wild is the same as the one Coleman used in an earlier series, Teens in the Wild, which worked reasonably well.

But taking three troubled families into the countryside and expecting them to change the habits of a lifetime with a week of hiking, kayaking and kind words is insulting and patronising.

You'd have needed the patience of 10 David Colemans not to kick in the TV screen during former Ceann Comhairle John O'Donoghue's resignation speech, when he stood before the Dail, red-faced and indignant, and bellowed: "I am not guilty of any corruption.

"I will not allow my public life to be stained by the half-truth."

The first in a new series of Scannal replayed that choice piece of footage and reminded us of O'Donoghue's excesses, which included a six-day trip to Cannes that cost the taxpayers €50,000, a visit to New York, where he saw three Broadway shows in a row and lodged at the $1,000-a-night Waldorf Astoria, and a separate stay in London's equally prestigious Dorchester.

"People who like to let their supporters know how important they are stay at the Dorchester," said travel journalist Eoghan Corry.

Though there was nothing new here, but it was presented with a pleasing sheen of sarcasm and contempt.


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