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Three's not a crowd with Amy

We love our celebrities in this country. Maybe it's because we have so few genuine ones -- and anyone who's been on a reality TV show can look away now, we're not talking about you -- but when one of them does something remotely half-decent, the hype machine goes into overdrive.

Every bend of their elbow, every crack of their knee is scrutinised. When it was announced last year that Amy Huberman, a good actress who's appeared in quite a few decent things in her career, was starring in Threesome, ears pricked up.

The attention (at least in these parts) was focused less on the fact that Threesome was Comedy Central UK's first original scripted comedy -- something of a landmark in itself -- than with Huberman's supposedly raunchy role in it.

She plays Alice, who, after a drug-addled 30th birthday party, falls into a sexual threesome with her boyfriend Mitch (Stephen Wight) and their gay best friend Richie (Emun Elliott). The upshot is that Alice gets pregnant and the trio decide to raise the child between them.

Daringly unconventional, envelope-pushing stuff then? No, not really. Threesome turned out, in the long run, to be as raunchy as an episode of The Good Life, though mostly not as funny.

The first series ended with the birth of baby Lily; the new one opened last night with Mitch, who's decided he needs to get a career, returning to school to re-sit his GCSEs.

Most of the gags revolved around the incongruous sight of a grown man in a pea-green school uniform being bullied by kids half his age and desperately trying to score some credibility points.

His cool cachet goes through the roof, though, when Alice intervenes, wiggling down the school corridor dressed like Olivia Newton John in Grease -- which she does very agreeably, by the way.

There's a sense that everybody in Threesome -- writer Tom MacRae, director Ian FitzGibbon and especially the cast -- are trying really hard, maybe even a bit too hard, to put together something really special here.

There's a lot of surface energy on display; what it's masking, however, is an unremarkable sitcom that would have passed by unnoticed were it not for the presence of the talented and likeable Huberman.

Where do we begin with The Fear? Should we even bother beginning, or should we just abandon the good fight, admit defeat and accept that some things in life -- death, taxes and the presence of Jennifer Maguire on television -- are unavoidable?

Well, no. If we do that, we might as well give up caring what our licence fee is squandered on and start regarding the annual extraction of €160 from our already pressurised wallets as a charitable donation for which we expect nothing in return.

I could save myself a lot of time and energy by simply saying that The Fear is rubbish and leave it at that. But that wouldn't begin to scratch the surface of just HOW rubbish it is. It's the kind of rubbish that gives other rubbish a good name. It's a hidden-camera show (as if we needed another one of those after Naked Camera) and it stars Maguire, who seems to have convinced herself she's a natural born comedian, and three others.

In one bit, Maguire follows blameless pedestrians around, shoving a microphone in their faces and babbling idiotic questions -- "Are you going to the toilet? Can I come? What are you doing, number one or number two?"

In another, she accosts men, asking them to help her rehearse her role in Fifty Shades of Grey.

In between these unfettered displays of ego-indulgence, there's a spectacularly crass recurring skit featuring a Russian prostitute called Irinka, who approaches a lorry driver and pretends to be searching for a shipment of girls.

Sex trafficking. Ha, ha, ha.

threesome HHIII the fear HIIII