In a Word . . .

. . .Gogglebox

It would appear the first European was also Irish.

It would appear the first European was also Irish.

 

Who ever heard the like? What sort of idiot would believe that a television programme about people watching television programmes would be the least bit interesting. It is surely the ultimate absurdity. Final proof that reality television had run out of ideas.

But I love Gogglebox. Yet had I been the programmer approached with the original idea I would have said “can’t work, won’t work. Off with you”. Yeah, I would be up there with Dick Rowe, known as “The Man Who Turned Down The Beatles”, after they auditioned at Decca records.

Or with those 12 publishers who rejected JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter books, which have since sold 450 million copies world-wide.

Gogglebox was launched by Channel 4 in March 2013, for a UK audience. It is now produced in Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Isreal, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, and the US.

For me Googlebox Ireland stands out. Maybe because I am more culturally attuned, but I find the humour and wit in the Irish version so much more entertaining than the UK one, where my most strongly felt impulse is to shake up the insufferable if long-suffering Home Counties Giles Wood and his ever-bored partner Mary Killen.

Indeed it is significant that their Irish counterparts should be Dr Pat Wallace, former director of the National Museum, and his artist wife Siobhán Cuffe. One could never describe Dr Wallace as either long-suffering or insufferable, nor Siobhán as ever-bored.

I mean did we not recently see Dr Wallace on TV pledging to lay down his life for his trees, on Pembroke Rd in Dublin, should they be removed to make way for buses! Eat your feeble heart out, Giles.

I particularly enjoy those two older ladies in Castleknock, Angela and Eileen with their Michael D tea-cosy, the Cabra girls, and the earthy Gruffertys in Athy.

Recently, out for a walk, I made a fool of myself. There before me was Fergal Tully, one of the Cavan twins, whose wry commentary can be as spare and to the point as generosity in that county.

I told him they were great, then retreated, believing I invaded his privacy and had just disgraced myself again. Some day I’ll get sense.

Meanwhile, I’ll watch Gogglebox Ireland.

Gogglebox, an English slang word for a television set.

inaword@irishtimes.com

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