Amid the glory of the Olympics and the amazing buzz of Waterford hurlers making it to an All-Ireland, what do we get on RTE1 but ex-Taoiseach, almost ex-Tribunal-man fronting The Road To Croker. Taped in Kerry, thanks to a good auto-cue, Bertie Ahearn did his man-of-the-people act. He described himself as a – high impact sub. Biggest laugh of the show was Paidi O Se telling a tale about leaving his lucky underpants behind and Charlie Haughey sending his state car to collect it. Aren’t we a great sporting lot entirely but don’t mention the horses.


After American Idol, The X-Factor is a huge success in that area of tv entertainment that some people deride and mock like the Eurosong. But, it pulls in the viewers with its mix of nutters, weirdos and those who can imitate talent for those three golden minutes of fame and goldfishbowl adulation. Even the never wassers get a slice and there must be no disgrace to them except not to be seen on Youtube or Facebook. So it’s back with four judges to soften the big bad woolfie, Simon Cowell. It probably won’t be bitchier or better but it’s goodbye Shazza O and hello Cheryl Cole who is a popstar with Girls Aloud and she is a real footballer’s wife or should that be a footballer’s real wife.

We’re at the auditions stage and it does go for fun television as the chancers take any chance for that daft flash of fame like showing your bits to pub crowds. Cheryl Cole was actually a wannabe contestant on I Popstars in 2002.

TV3 gave the show a great restart with two additional shows, a where-are-they-now and an Xtra Factor show to boost the tension, whet the appetite and get the mojitas going.

New Stats

Now in its fifth series, the BBC1 show New Tricks has surprised many by clocking up audiences of over 8 million and in fact some weeks this is better ratings than any of the soaps who are in decline. Channels say the soaps are in a temporary seasonal dip but it must be worrying that a stellar cast of three old codgers almost is having such success but Denis Waterman, Alun Armstrong and James Bolam seem to have won over the public by the iconic work they have done in the past twenty years. Sometimes the script just clunks along but still the public want more of them.

About 5 million watch the critically mauled Bonekickers and the glossy Harley Street is only averaging 3 Million. All at a time that less than 9 million are watching the two top soaps.

No Knead

BBC2 are scraping the bottom of the cookery pot these days with The Hairy Bikers and it is hard to see the need for another cookery programme along with MasterChef: The Professionals and both going out the same night. Give us our daily bread might be a popular prayer, even a daily prayer, but who the heaven are Simon King and Dave Myers and why do they dress like Smurfs to bake bread and pies. You learn such useful morsels that the ploughman’s lunch was an advertising idea in the sixties, to entice people into eating in pubs. And do we need to know how to make a Bakewell tart?

Dream Team

The RTE2 double bill on Tuesday nights of Private Practice and Grey’s Anatomy has to be the greatest dream team of the Olympic season. Nearly as major as Waterford hurlers getting to an All-Ireland. This is Magnum choc-ice and sweet coffee and donuts or sourdough bread and whiskey marmalade. The scripts are to die for, witty, brittle and full of new ways of saying old things and do you learn. Hell do you learn things and not just medical guff and stuff but new places to put to-die-for shoes. Manolos or Jimmy Choos were never like this or as sassy or as sexy. Best tv writing at the moment, so savour it and save your Tuesdays or Shoesdays and enjoy your favourite crew.

Dog’s Life

The breeding of pedigree dogs is leading to cruel in-breeding and physical abnormalities, according to a BBC1 programme, Pedigree Dogs Exposed. To win prizes it is necessary that certain types of pedigree dogs have to have particular styles of physical appearance like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. To give their heads a certain shape it’s like putting a size ten brain into a size six cavity. The Kennel Club lays down strict standards for competition dogs and this causes inbreeding to copy the size and shape and inbreeding causes worse problems, that endangers the actual health of many dogs. This ill-health is alleged to have a spend of STG£10 million in vets bills a week. Balance this against a statistic that says there are 7.3 million dogs in the UK of which 75 percent are pedigree.

Other Bits

MARTIN CLUNES is to make three sixty-minute shows for ITV1 in which he tours most of the popular tourist islands off the British coast. Clunes is a key star for ITV with Doc Martin and a soon to be broadcast, A Man And His Dogs. Just shows that when you are hot you can almost get away with any shaggy dog story.

THE TWO RONNIES, on repeats for BBC in Sketchbook, averaged over 4 million viewers, a mega hit in comparison to Lenny Henry TV (less than 3 million), Comedy Cuts (less than a million), Touch Me, I’m Karen Taylor (less than 500,000) or The Kevin Bishop Show (2 million).

HARRY HILL: his TV Burp Bafta winner has more than 5 million viewers per episode.

MOST HAUNTED: The Living TV digital show has been snapped up by a US channel who must see more than the green tinted handheld images.