Liam Butler

Great to see Carrick-on-Suir performer Liam Butler play a serious comedy feed in Pat Shortt’s Scooby dubious cop comedy, Mattie. Liam got a running gag out of a Tourette’s syndrome – an involuntary disorder where people cannot help blurting out rude words or phrases. Liam kept saying Pigs in a Garda station. But just when you think Mattie is going to work it just fizzles out. Perhaps there will be bungled romance with the female copper.

Law and Disorder

The return of Law and Order: U.K., has been hard hitting on UTV with the first two episodes featuring difficult children, murder and teenage abuse issues, that we find hard to watch. Perhaps the programme makers are trying to shock to up the ratings and be more vicious than Eastenders. The first episode looked at a case similar to the Jamie Bulger murder by two children and again it raised hackles with viewers. What shocked me most was the way the programme manipulated the viewer to consider one of the abductors as being the killer and then sharply changes tack with forensic evidence and I had to accept how easily I fell into the emotional trap.

The second episode Hounded worked at the lenient way a serial rapist was released on parole and despite the senior crown prosecutor pushing for a refusal. Inevitably, the killer fooled them all and the lawyer portrayed as biased came across as hard done by his professional colleagues.

Bradley Walsh ex-Corrie shone as a caring methodical copper and Ben Daniels was electric as the prosecuting lawyer.

Old Friends

Hard to believe but New Tricks is now back with series seven and the three old boys are great. Alun Armstrong is still obsessive, James Bolam is wise and methodical and Dennis Waterman is still the business as a wrinkly jack-the-lad. Amanda Redman links it all with great style, however, the opening story It Smells of Books had a very similar theme to a recent Midsomer Murders. Still, it’s about the old geezers not the plotlines after all.

Dad’s Army

Do you think TV programme makers read reviews probably not but they do look at the numbers and UTV made all the Sunday numbers with a full-length Alan Plater drama (sadly his last) Joe Maddison’s War. Set in WWII Newcastle this was all lads and bonnie lassies – the lads in cardigans and curlers. A mixture between Andy Capp and Dad’s Army. Robson Green sang the Geordie songs and this was a poignant tale of love, death, kindness and divorce that would make a shipbuilders rivet weep tears of joy. Kevin Whately was Joe Maddison, an ordinary everyman who wanted to do the right, the decent thing in a world at war. Top class performances from a quality cast, with Derek Jacobi as a post chemist, a la Mr.Mainwaring. Melanie Hill was the bonnie widow who brought a blush back to Maddison’s cheeks and the singsong of Geordie songs missed out on Fog on the Tyne and When The Boat Comes In. Pity it was only a once off drama.

Bleak Stuff

Stuck away on BBC4 was a salutary lesson about the difficulties a town experienced in 1963 after the collapse of the post-war boom. Waiting For Work was a black and white documentary about the problems that hit Hartlepool in the ‘60’s after the loss of 3,000 jobs to a place of 50,000 people. Shades of Waterford Crystal. The original programme was made by Jack Ashley who went on to be an MP. His daughter went back last year to revisit the programme and sadly despite many revival and restructuring schemes and New Labour, Hartlepool hardly recovered for long and now is in the doldrums again and sadly no lesson was learned in 50 years. Bleak stuff indeed. To add to the flat cap image BBC4 rebroadcast the original The Black Stuff that gave rise to the Boys from the Black Stuff. Gizza Job still stalks the land.

Bill’s Wannabes

A sure fired crowd pleaser, a bitching fest, a blame-game, an ego trip is back. The Apprentice is back on TV3 with Bill Cullen and the so-called cream of the wannabe suits. First up was a selling task to promote vouchers for a four-star hotel. So what did we get a lot of business guff and four guys going into a garage to sell a deal. Why four to sell to one? Crazy? But not as crazy as four women in a car in a corporate park making a few cold calls to businesses miles away. These contestants couldn’t sell themselves but business talk is cheap on TV. But the fun is in the squirming blame game of those who literally begged Big Bill for a chance to learn from him. If this is entrepreneurial flair in post-Tiger Ireland we are in a mess.