Back to Daniel and Majella’s Dermot Bannon-designed house of many loos

In TG4’s new series Daniel and Majella conduct a chat show sa bhaile in Donegal

‘You won’t be seeing me on high stilts,’ warns Daniel

‘You won’t be seeing me on high stilts,’ warns Daniel

 

There’s something faintly unsettling about the notion of Daniel O’Donnell gyrating his hips suggestively. He’s quite the singing star, but not usually of the thrusting variety.

The first we hear about his plan to wiggle is when his offscreen wife Majella flings a hoola hoop at him as he does his intro, teeing up how he’ll chat to friends old and new and have a bit of song.

When she hurls the hoop he jokes “that may be your last attempt, me girl”. Yes, it’s true: one of the items in his brief but packed chatshow will involve Daniel and Majella learning to hoola hoop from circus performer Steven McGinley, via Zoom. In their kitchen. Trí Ghaeilge.

More surreal moments you might not conjure up of a sunny Sunday evening during coronacrisis.

Daniel Sa Bhaile is TG4’s lockdown series, kicking off four 35-minute episodes just as lockdown begins to ease. Marty and Hector in sheds were terrifying (even separately), so be thankful for small mercies, that Daniel and Majella are sa bhaile in the Donegal teach that Dermot Bannon reimagined for them way back BC (before coronavirus).

We recall Daniel had a conniption, as well he might, when Dermot doubled the budget overnight. There was also a tussle between the boyish duo, because Danny wanted an ensuite in every room, and Dermo did not. Didn’t he get the multiple toilets in the end, so we spend the first few minutes squinting around the fine-looking kitchen to see where the nearest loo is hidden.

Majella has added the perfect yin to Daniel’s yang, in terms of public appeal, unbending the stiffness, and here she pops her head in and out every so often, sometimes waving wildly. “There’s no show without Punch,” Daniel observes – either wryly or fondly; it’s hard to figure out.

O’Donnell’s Donegal Irish has a gorgeous blas, and his soothing voice is easy on the ear, with helpful subtitles. He screenchats first with Moya Brennan, also holed up in Donegal (we’re in God’s country here, he says a couple of times). Clannad’s tour was cut short just as they were due to play the Palladium on Paddy’s night, and she’s been painting in Gaoth Dobhair since then; she sings a capella. Then he talks to a man called Gavin, who is mysteriously in a deserted Las Vegas, with casinos closed (and no fountain in front of the Bellagio, observes Daniel). Before we can figure out why they’re chatting, he’s moved on, to keep fit via circus skills.

“You won’t be seeing me on high stilts,” warns Daniel. Majella joins him. “This is a lot bigger than I’ve ever seen,” she says. (She’s gesturing to the hoola hoop.) Give it a push, then you move back and forth with your waist, advises engineer-turned-circus performer McGinley.

Majella and Daniel give it a go, then suddenly there they are gyrating to beat the band. We’ll have to get Dermot Bannon back to build an extension for this, observes Daniel. I may be exaggerating the sexual tension in this scene. But before we get too excited, Daniel winds it up briskly, saying he’ll have to lie down for a bit.

After the break, we meet Leanne and Tomas, a couple from Clare and Galway who found love at first sight at a hurling match, but who have postponed their wedding for a year because of Covid-19.

Then old pal Gloria Hunniford joins them from her sunny verandah where she’s been in isolation for 14 weeks. They chat about how she accidentally locked her husband in the kitchen overnight, and the perils of Zoom group calls (full of people “crossing over each other like Piers Morgan and Susanna in the morning” says Hunniford).

She’s only dying to get Majella back into the chat. (It’s true, we miss her too.) And she recalls the first time she interviewed O’Donnell, when “I couldn’t get a word out of you. And now I can hardly shut you up.”

He was a good kisser too, she adds.

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