Given his general laissez-faire appearance, including an admirable commitment to making every day a dress-down Friday, you’d have to feel that Luke “Ming” Flanagan, the Roscommon TD-cum-hash-and-hospital-activist, probably doesn’t suffer from any great ego or conceit.
Still, if he had any sense that his own personal star had risen to the stratosphere since his election to the Dáil 12 months ago, that must have been taken down a peg or two when he took a look around at the other “celebrities” in the grotesquely watchable Alan Hughes’ Celebrity Family Fortunes (TV3, Saturday, 10pm).
Ming’s family were beaten – not literally, in this instance – by scrapper Paddy Doherty and his clan, the stars of Channel 4’s (also grotesquely watchable) my Big fat Gypsy Wedding. It may be indicative of things that Paddy and the rest of the Dohertys were spot on with every answer in the section about popular forms of plastic surgery.
That was enough to send them through to play for the top prize of €5000 for charity, where Paddy, who was spotted at one stage grinning from ear to ear as he tucked his expensive-looking shirt into his expensive-looking trousers, answered the relatively straightforward question, “Name a male relative”, with “sister”.
Given that his television appearances to date have almost exclusively been in his own natural habitat, we’re sure it was just the nerves that got the better of him, and maybe it was nerves too that caused Hughes to pass the moment by without grasping the obvious chance for a good piss-take. “Sister? what were you thinking, Paddy?” he would have been within his rights to say. maybe Hughes has seen enough of Paddy’s peel-em-and-bate-em personality to back right off. Les Dennis or Vernon Kay wouldn’t have been so forgiving.
Alan Hughes’ Celebrity Family Fortunes was one of the many spanked victims of Dermot Whelan’s cutting wit in Republic of Telly (RTE 2, Monday, 10.20pm). the show has come a long way under Whelan’s stewardship – a joke about renaming it, Hughes’ Family Fortunes style, as “Dermot Whelan’s Republic of Telly” was nicely self-deprecating, but there’s no doubt it would suffer greatly for his absence.
Not that it’s a one-man show, either. the comic is ably assisted by Jennifer Maguire and Bernard O’Shea, with the Real Republic having developed into one of the show’s best segments, which this week included the classic line, “he has the head of a melted action man.”
The show’s other real Republic, with the Jen Talks on-street chat show and on-street night-life-watching 24-Hour Camera – this week in Letterkenny, complete with routine mooning and full-frontal exposure – suggests an Irish reality that may be best avoided. You mightn’t have realised it at the time, but sitting in and watching Alan Hughes’ Celebrity Family Fortunes can be a much safer way to spend a Saturday night.
Looking at something that’s both a lot more rarefied and a lot more English, it’s sad how far Film 2012 (BBC 1,Tuesday, 11.35pm) has fallen from the gravitas and authority of the Barry Norman years. the great one could be forgiven for routinely vomiting at around midnight each Tuesday night as the programme that was his preserve for so many years dips and whirls from one horrible moment to another.
Claudia Winkleman, Noman’s latest successor, has the strange knack of being irritating without uttering a single word, and when she starts to talk she becomes much more irritating still. Her sidekick is Danny Leigh, who knows much more about movies but possesses no on-screen charm at all as he sits forward and pontificates smugly on all the latest releases. As the pair give their verdicts you could be forgiven for finding yourself looking forward to the movies they dismiss and giving a swerve to ones which get the thumbs-up, which is a damning attribute for a movie review show.
There is the odd good moment – the featurette from Chris Hewitt on the rise of comic book movies over the past 15 years or so was well worth five minutes of your time – but enough to make up for the fingernails-on-blackboard stuff whenever Danny, Claudia and Claudia’s mile-high fringe are on camera? Possibly not, although the Sky Plus fast-forward button was made for shows like this.