Clear History (RTÉ Two, Friday) is Irish television's latest attempt at a comedy panel show and it won't come as a huge surprise to report that it isn't terribly funny. But it might be judged a qualified success in that there are long stretches where it doesn't feel like an endurance test of cosmically horrific proportions.
Granted, there are moments when it very much feels like an endurance test of cosmically horrific proportions. But there are less frequent than feared. It is largely forgettable, which is perhaps the best that could be hoped given our patchy track record at small screen chuckles. It also clears the high bar of not labelling God a sex offender.
The big idea is that we all have a moment in our lives so embarrassing that we’d love to erase it for all time. As someone who bought the album K by Kula Shaker on vinyl, I can see what they are getting at. The problem – as it usually is with comedy on Irish television – is that there aren’t enough laughs to go with all the manic mugging.
Clear History is hosted by Kevin McGahern with "team captains" comedians Joanne McNally and Colin Murphy – who, by ancient Celtic law, has appeared on every Irish panel show from the time of the Druids. They are joined by Luke O'Neill, the newly famous immunologist, and by radio host Laura O'Mahony.
In round one, captains and guests share their most toe-curling anecdote. McNally reveals she once got trollied at office drinks and woke up locked inside her place of work. Murphy recounts shouting “white” in a coffee shop in London which apparently resulted in everyone thinking he was racist (he wanted milk). O’Mahony recalls mucking up singing at the funeral of a friend’s parent. And O’Neill achieves peak Irish chattering classes early in proceedings with a story about a yachting trip from Dún Laoghaire to Cork going awry.
The show becomes slightly funnier further in as it looks back on great cringeful moments from Irish popular history. These include singer Nadine Coyle being vague about her age on Louis Walsh's Popstars and punters Zooming in with stories about their parents spotting them at sexual health clinics And then finally it's over. Forty five minutes, four or five laughs, not too many deathly silences. It could have been worse.