With Ryan Tubridy's opinion-dividing interview with the Derry Girls (Channel 4, 9.15pm) cast still creating aftershocks on social media, the Troubles-era comedy returns with a peppery second episode of its final season. And after last week's surprise Liam Neeson cameo, the big twist this time is that Erin and the gang are staging their own mini Stars in their Eyes concert.
It happens during a Children In Need fundraiser and is proceeding swimmingly until Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), playing a member of a pop troupe we aren’t allowed mention until the morning after broadcast, spots her mother, Mary (Tara Lynne O’Neill), seated alongside hunky new plumber, Gabriel (Damien Moloney).
The two are having an affair according to Erin’s overwrought pal Clare (Nicola Coughlan). And, presented with the evidence in plain sight, Erin stomps away and the performance suffers a dramatic girl power outtage.
This isn’t classic Derry Girls and is not an instalment anyone will particularly remember when the show inevitably takes up its place alongside Father Ted as one of the greatest ever Irish sitcoms (with that huge pulsating asterisk reminding us it was produced by a UK broadcaster).
Still, if not nearly as spicy as that Late Late Show interview in which Jamie-Lee O’Donnell (aka Michelle) told Tubridy it was misogynistic for him to ask her age, it still has lots of what audiences love about Derry Girls.
After an uproarious, Liam Neeson-fuelled series opener, the second of six instalments is more collection of chortles than basket of laughs
The fun begins with a tableaux of domestic anarchy with Erin, father Gerry (Tommy Tiernan) and grandfather Joe (Ian McElhinney) conspiring to leave Mary feeling overwhelmed and unappreciated. She exits for a relaxing bath before remembering there isn’t any hot-water.
Enter dreamboat plumber Gabriel who sweeps Mary off her feet by quoting the Brontë Sisters. Soon the pair are skipping off for a secret liaison – which leads Clare to conclude they’ve become forbidden paramours. So convinced is she something iffy is afoot she breaks her sponsored vow of silence for Children In Need in order to spill the beans to Erin.
Actually, Mary has been considering enrolling in university and Gabriel is introducing her to a study group. But by the time the truth is revealed, Erin has gone zig-z-zig-ah at that Stars in Their Eyes gig and everything ends in chaos.
After an uproarious, Liam Neeson-fuelled series opener, the second of six instalments is more collection of chortles than basket of laughs. But there are showcases from everyone's favourite characters – Sister Michael (Siobhán McSweeney), for instance, rolls her eyes throughout and Peter Campion's Father Peter remains a squawking cover version of Ted Crilly with too much hair-gel. So while there will be funnier episodes, even in cruise control Derry Girls is a scary, sporty hoot.