| 6.8°C Dublin

Why I'm bored with bouquet already

It has been a long time since anything on television shocked anyone, but back in the day -- the day in question being 1976 -- Bouquet of Barbed Wire, based on a novel by Andrea Newman, was the most shocking thing on the box.

It was water cooler television before we even had water coolers. No fewer than 26 million viewers in Britain (an unimaginable number today), as well as an unrecorded number living in multi-channel land on this side of the water, tuned in to ITV every Sunday night for seven weeks to wallow in the trials and tribulations of the Manson family.

No, not THAT Manson family. These were the middle-class, upright, uptight and respectable Mansons.

Well, respectable as long as you ignored the fact that the father, Peter (played at the time by the silver-haired Frank Finlay), harboured an obsessive love for his daughter Prue (Susan Penhaligon) that strayed into something beyond parental.

When Prue arrives home from university, pregnant and with a new, American husband called Gavin in tow, Peter, who's a well-off publisher, goes off the scale with jealousy and resentment.

Gavin, meanwhile, amuses himself by bonking Prue's mother, who's a bit fed up with Peter.

There was an awful lot of bonking in Bouquet of Barbed Wire. Clive James, at the time an incomparable TV critic with The Observer, memorably wrote: "By the end, everybody had been to bed with everybody else except the baby." Basically, it was guilty-pleasure trash.

If you were to watch the original Bouquet today, you'd probably be struck at how slowly television drama in the Seventies moved.

The new version, which takes the same basic story and subjects it to some light cosmetic surgery, moves a lot faster. It's compressed into just three episodes.

It's a lot glossier, too; like every modern TV drama, bar soap operas, it's shot on film.

But it's no less trashy or corny than the first incarnation. The major difference this time around is that Peter, now reconfigured as an architect, is played by Trevor Eve, who used to be nice-guy private eye Eddie Shoestring, but in recent years has been offering viewers a masterclass in moody, scowling b*****ds.

There are a few other tweaks: possibly to up the shock factor in these unshockable times, Prue (Imogen Poots -- what a name!) is in her final year at secondary school. Her unsuitable boyfriend Gavin (Tom Riley) is no longer American, but seems to have been given an extra layer of smarm -- not to mention a borderline psychopathic personality.

The sex scenes might be bit stronger, but they feel joyless and cynical. Maybe that's deliberate, but the overall effect is a turn off. For all the money and attention and good acting that's been lavished on it, Bouquet of Barbed Wire looks outdated and irrelevant.

Will it titillate audiences the way the Seventies version did? Nope. But it might well bore them to tears.

And speaking of trashy, Boozed Up Irish Abroad, TV3's latest attempt to grab the Guinness Book of World Records gong for Tackiest Documentary Ever, does exactly what it says on the beer can.

Cheap, garish, shrieking and hysterical, it follows a gang of monumentally annoying young show-offs on their holidays and invites us to leer at them while they get drunk, throw up and try to get laid.

It's television starring morons, made by intelligent people pretending to be morons and aimed at an audience it presumes to be morons. Obnoxious and pointless.

STACEY'S STARS

BOUQUET OF BARBED WIRE **

BOOZED UP IRISH ABROAD *


Privacy