I’ve always thought there was a scary element to RTE1’s show, How Long Will You Live?, but last week, when I saw local woman Aine O’Brien-Farrell get help to deal with her type 2 Diabetes and you realise you know her. Saw her recently in Lemon Tree Cafe in Dunmore East and in Ardkeen Stores, and you now know she has gone from a 70 year life expectancy to 82 years, if she follows the advice of yummy trendy Doctor Mark Hamilton. Is it part of the fame, celebrity game to be recognised or do participants get a wonderful free medical check-up? In a good way these programmes are human and inspirational.
At times there was concern and worry on her face and then there was big smiles and relief and it was real life . . . not reality tv.
TV programmers are trying to win back viewers to Saturday nights, despite the soft option of so many movies to fill the gaps. But a nice entertaining mix might be for you to start at five with RTE1 and the All Ireland Talent Show. It seems to be geared at teen acts, more than adults, due to its slot in the schedule and the various centres don’t seem to be singing/selecting from the same hymn sheet but it’s fun and very local/parochial too.
Then you can find Total Wipeout on BBC1 and this has Amanda Byron as a co-presenter in a set of fun but testing challenges, much like the old It’s A Knockout and it really moves along with pace and nifty editing. Then you segue into the BBC attempt to make a better impact in the Eurovision with Your Country Needs You with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber going to write the Euro music and a top writer to do the lyrics. This is fine television entertainment and it leads you into Casualty. Bit of an omen there?
A second Lynda La Plante show in the same week and this time it’s the split screen antics of Trial & Retribution with Victoria Smurfit back as the icy Roisin Conner. With her eyebrows shaped back into her severe pony-tail, she barks with and at the best of them. This time we get a new acronym in UST – unresolved sexual tension, as Conner throws shapes at other smouldering copper McGill and they glower at each other. Adds another dash of spice to a show going a little off the boil. Otherwise it’s just the usual one lot of cops threading on other cops investigations. So you get more cops for your money but little else, except UST. As if we weren’t used to that.
UTV have settled back into the Sunday groove with a ratings winner in Dancing On Ice, now into series four and once again the public voted for the guy from The Bill/EastEnders/Grange Hill, even though he could hardly stand on the ice. One judge said he looked like a man who had done a woopsie in his pants. But these judges, all five of them, have a better sense of fun and entertainment than the BBC dancing judges. This followed by what could be last of Wild At Heart, also into series four and minus Amanda Holden. This has gone a bit formulaic and they seem to have run out of fresh ideas in wildlife. Still, Stephen Tompkinson, as the caring vet, could hold this in the ratings over the next eight weeks.
Take those two late night comedy yokes on RTE2 Mondays and between them there’s not much comedy. This Is Nightlive is just a poor skit on TV3 shows like Midday and Expose and it’s more miss than hit, more misfire than surefire. Then there’s Project Ha Ha, with the pregnant girls, the odd partner and the two odd male partners. Just when you think it’s going to do a run or a riff of jokes, it couldn’t raise a pink snack or a tractor joke. It’s as if some guru at RTE realises that if your crap at comedy, who cares, as it’s a matter of individual taste, if an individual is still watching. Black spot.
Despite whatever reservations I might have about the spreading Unforgiven on UTV, over three episodes, the acting of Suranne Jones is excellent. She was great in Corrie as Steve McDonald’s flaky shouty wife and awful as the posh doc in Harley Street but, in this one, she rings all the bells. She plays Ruth, who has spent fifteen years in prison for killing two policemen in an isolated farmhouse. On release she tries to contact her sister, long since adopted and this is where the story takes on mysterious and seemingly unconnected incidents, like the movies crash or Balel. But a supernatural incident seems out of place and a coincidence too far, like the flops of Affinity, Apparitions or Medium. But Sally Wainwright, who wrote it, is a woman on the way up with At Home With The Braithwaites and Dead Clever. BBC have appointed Wainwright as a showrunner to oversee their Robin Hood series like Russell T. Davies does Doctor Who.
The first episode brought in over 7 million viewers and a UK critic described the show as – Five stories all round and six for Suranne Jones.
Less than 1.2 million C4 viewers seem to relish the two chefs in Eat An Elephant and the figures got less as they cut up snakes, monkeys, dogs and such. More people watched a same time repeat of Q1 on BBC1. At about same time over 5 million were watching Chelsea beat Southend on ITV. Have chef shows come to a reduction as BBC2s Master Chef viewers are down on the usual 3 million.