Just in case some people think that the much anticipated The Simpsons Oirish episode was a gross example of the worst type of leprecaunery and Darby O’Gillary, I cannot agree with you. Yes it had some hoary auld chestnuts but it had some humour like the MicroSoft sequence and the influence of affluence on Ireland and the no smoking in pubs. It was just a poor episode in a show that lately has lost its sparkle and its satire.
Probably the worst type of Paddywhackery was the St Patrick’s Parade with its Begorrah GAA as mountainy men carrying mixers and bags of cement and footballers who grasped at thin air time and time again. Or the candyfloss marching bands and the collection of large street theatre gombeen puppets.
Best thing in the Waterford parade was young Jack Lynch doing incredible hand-springs and somersaults on the quays.
It must be the end of the season as the days struggle to get warmer and popular winter programmes bow out and some, despite good figures, may not resurface. Wild At Heart, despite loosing Amanda Holden, survived but a lot of that must be down to new lady vet and love interest Dawn Steele who has come up through the ranks in BBC Scotland especially Monarch Of The Glen. Up to the end Wild was bringing in figures just under 8 million when some Corrie shows were doing less. In fact the slippage of soaps must be a worry all round.
New comedy shows are not doing the business either with the BBC1 The Old Guys settling into about three and a half regulars against its early rush of nearly five million. The new Al Murray sketch series is in trouble and no doubt he be back pulling pints and faces as pub landlord sooner than later. The break away Horne and Corden hasn’t found the mark its parent Favin And Stacey had and the sketch format seems over long and seriously under funny. Why do modern tv comics think punchlines are now so naff? Strange to think the American channels are rewriting The Office. Absolutely Fabulous No Heroics and Pulling – all British originals.
The series of The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is a real treat from the usual crime series. The Botswana locations are a treat but it’s the different style of storylines that catch the interest. A case of two dentists (real twins) operating two practices on one medical qualification is novel but the missing persons subplot, where the Detective, Mma Ramotswe, has to shoot and cut open a crocodile to find a gold watch, is just so different from Frost, or Midsomers Murders. Then there was a stray shaggy dog story. Jill Scott is great as the detective living in an almost shanty house and her secretary Anika Noni Rose is a real find as she nursed a brother stricken with Aids.
BBC1 have had such a good run with two series of Lark Rise To Candleford that they have commissioned a third series to try and hold on to audiences of over 6 million a show. But that creates a new problem for the Bonnets and Seasons brigade use the original scriptwriters used up a lot of Flora Thompson’s three novels, Lark Rise (1939), Over To Candleford (1941) and Candleford Green (1945). You can buy all three in one Penguin paperback for under €14. Thompson was herself an assistant postmistress and she married a postmaster. A fourth volume of her stories was published in 1948, Still Glides The Stream after her death in 1947.
Cold on the heels of ITV’s Billy Connolly: Journey To The Edge Of The World as he took a trip through the fabled, Northwest Passage, comes BBC2 fabulous Yellowstone. God knows how many people it takes to make these fine series. In fact, a minimum of eight did the 10,000 mile trek with Connolly in a race against nature as the ice-bound passage is only navigable for a few short weeks every summer. Similarly, there are difficult time scales to catch the majesty of America’s first national park. The winter study of savage predatory animals is amazing in an area that sits on a volcano but as the surface rises higher the area gets colder. At times the water temperature is warmer than the air. Natural history is just so fascinating and the technical expertise to film it, is almost a show in itself.
ITV have an annual loss of £2.7 billion and has lost about 70 percent of its share price. It currently spends £900 million a year on programming while it has only about six weeks visibility on advertising revenue. It has to commit large amounts far too early in the programming cycle and has to wait too long to bring in its advertising cash. They reckon it takes two years to get some ideas to screen. So should we get ready for repeats of repeats and lots more movies?