Gogglebox Ireland review: this is a great way to watch telly

TV3 brings the hit format to an Irish setting, and it’s hilarious

Families and friends from around Ireland take to their couches in the Irish version of the hit television show 'Gogglebox'. Video: TV3

 

Has it come to this? Is there really so little else on the telly that we’re reduced to watching other people watching telly - on the telly? Welcome to Gogglebox Ireland (Thursday, TV3), the Irish version of the successful Brit TV series, set in the weird and wonderful world of television viewers, a world of soft cushions, Lay-z Boy sofas, towelling socks, Michael “Tea” Higgins tea cosies, and limbs twisted and draped in all sorts of ways. It looks like a wonderfully relaxing place to be.

You know the drill by now - a motley group of families watch a selected TV programme in their own homes, while the cameras watch them. We cut to the different households to get the different reactions to what’s happening onscreen. And some of the reactions are priceless. TV3 were hoping the Irish humour would shine through in this homegrown version – and it most certainly does. These amateur armchair reviewers cut through the crap and get straight to the point. On America’s Got Talent: “It’s like Britain’s Got Talent – only shit”. On Marty Morrissey: “The country folk love him.” “They can keep him.” On Miriam O’Callaghan: “She has 42 children, hasn’t she?”

We drop into many households in the space of an hour, we feel like a telly-addicted Santa. And it’s not long before we feel like we’re part of the family. TV3 have picked an entertaining bunch of viewers. There’s the Grufferty family from Athy, Co Kildare, Paul and Paul in Youghal, friends Jamie, Lindsay, Ashley and Grainne from Cabra, the Adenuga family from Navan, and the Tully twins, Fergal and Neal, from Cavan (they’ve got a serious twin Layz-e-Boy couch with tray in the middle for their pints).

First up is the Angelus, the opening bell for the series. Let the viewing and commenting begin. “You’re supposed to pray, but I don’t think anyone does anymore.” “It rings 18 times, you know.”

Then it’s time for America’s Got Talent. “Those Americans overdo everything,” says one of the Tully twins, a theme he’ll return to whenever a US progamme comes on. There’s a singer doing a big-band version of a pop song. No one recognises it, and then the penny drops. “It’s a One Direction song!” No one is impressed. “He should have done a song we all know, like Mr Bojangles.” A BBC archive programme has Sonny and Cher doing I Got You Babe. Everyone knows that one, but it takes a while to recognise Cher in her youth. “She’s still stunning”, we’re assured.

They even watch the Six-One News, humming along to the theme tune. The news is not good. Dublin Bus are planning more strikes. Opinion is divided. “They want 55,000 euro to drive a bus.” “Give them what they want.” There’s sympathy for the picketing drivers walking in an endless circle. “That’d drive you mad.” “It’s like The Wheels on The Bus.” Sharon Ni Bheolain “looks well”, another theme that will recur. Miriam O’Callaghan looks well too, in a Prime Time piece about driverless cars. “What’s the benefit of that?” “You can read the paper while driving.” “If you get drunk, will it drive you home?”

And so it goes on. Whatever the programme makers throw at them, the viewers can find something to say about it – usually hilarious. Watching the mating rituals of lions gets everyone animated. “It’s like Friday night at Dicey’s.” The punching and kicking at the All-Ireland football final gets them shouting at the telly. “It’s like every sport rolled into one.” And gets the Tully twins standing for the National Anthem – you just see their legs). And Smalltown, a drama about a family dealing with their mother’s terminal cancer, quietens everyone down – just the odd sniffling sound. “Aww, she’s gone, is she?”

“What did we learn from that?” asks mammy Grufferty. I learned that Gogglebox is a great way to watch telly - virtually curled up on a comfy sofa with the rest of the country. Can’t wait for next week.

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