Trapped in the jaws of doom

Ireland outside the euro (monday RTE1) The Big Money Game (SATURDAY RTE1) In the best possible Taste (TUESDAY, CHANNEL 4)

Patrick Freyne

Ireland Outside the Euro is the latest in a series of recessionsploitation documentaries being made by RTE in the style of Roger Corman. You will be familiar with most of the ingredients.

A man in a suit doing a walk 'n' talk while doing decisive little karate chops with his hand: check. Ominous horror movie music: check. Footage of people walking down the street in slow motion, ignorant of the grave danger they're in: check. Footage of innocent children whose futures have been squandered, happily swinging on swings: check. The presenter driving a car for no good reason: check. Germans being productive: check. Greeks rioting: check. Besuited soothsayers (suit-sayers?) making ominous predictions: check. No women: check. Someone writing a cheque: check.


To be fair to presenter George Lee, he was doing this depressive doom-mongering before it was cool. Back in the mid-Noughties he made the scary documentaries that invented the genre.

He was like Roy Scheider in Jaws warning us all to close the beach. Sadly, half a decade later and he's Dennis Quaid in Jaws 3D telling a bored audience that there's yet another beastie loose in the waterpark (really? AGAIN?).

And just as Jaws was scariest when you couldn't see the shark, these recessionsploitation documentaries got less and less interesting the more recession we'd already seen.

So as George waffles about being on "the edge of an abyss", the cameraman obfuscates his stock footage with weird filters and the synth player bangs out minor chords, I can't help thinking it would be better if George just donned a bed sheet with eye-holes and said: "Woooh! Yizzer all f***ed!"

Yes. We know. You've been telling us that for some time. Our choice is between federalisation or expulsion? My three-year-old nephew told me that. Leaving the euro would mean wiped-out savings, chaotic levels of austerity but booming export businesses and control of our own interest rates? Why my cat scratched those very words in her litter tray this morning.

But the content isn't really the problem (because it's just "the truth"). What really grates is the lazy, controlled hysteria of the style. RTE needs to change the record. Literally. Benny Hill music, canned laughter and a slide-whistle would make a nice change of soundtrack (and would be just as apt).

And when it came to padding it all out with random footage, sunsets and some of this nation's beautiful scenery make as much sense thematically as people hurrying around Dublin streets. Funnily enough the programme did end with George Lee walking into the sunset. But, like Jaws, we know he'll be back.

None of us truly know the inner workings of the ECB. I suspect it operates much like The Big Money Game, with bailouts and prizes distributed according to inane rules and random luck against a cheery backdrop.


The seasonal replacement for National Lottery programme Winning Streak this quiz show has an over-excited sign-carrying audience, a collection of grinning, suspicious and bewildered looking punters, and some bright-eyed presenters: Sinead Kennedy, a likeable young woman, and Brian Ormond, whose interactions with humans remind me of David the android in Prometheus.

Anyway, until the episode in which Brian goes rogue and kills everyone in a misguided attempt to become a real boy, the thrills revolve around people you don't know winning tens of thousands of euro while Sinead and Brian say words about stuff.

To see an interesting presenter saying fascinating words about intriguing stuff, you should watch Turner Prize-winning Grayson Perry dissecting the social meaning of "taste" in In The Best Possible Taste.

In this week's episode Perry explored middle-class obsessions from farmer's markets to cafetieres to Farrow and Ball paint, and found a strange mix of angst-ridden conformity and tentative individuality. Then he made a tapestry. Brilliant.

Ireland Outside the Euro HHIII

The Big Money Game HHIII

In the Best Possible Taste HHHHI