‘Wow!’ ‘Woah!’ The weekly peak Dermot Bannon moment

Ireland is losing the run of itself over Dermot Bannon losing the run of himself

Architect Dermot Bannon visits a seaside house in Los Angeles as part of his new RTÉ series Dermot Bannon’s US Homes. Video: RTÉ


Whatever the original brief, the real joy of Dermot Bannon’s US Homes isn’t the chance to lose the run of ourselves over America’s fanciest cribs. Oh no. The real joy is watching Dermot Bannon lose the run of himself over America’s fanciest cribs.

In the second episode of Dermot Bannon’s US Homes (Sunday, 9.35pm, RTÉ One), Dermot was in LA, betraying the cool restraint of a toddler let loose in the M&Ms factory.

Whatever urbane sophistication he conveys when he’s holding forth on the joys of poured concrete with the owners of a two-up two-down in Drimnagh, he seems to have had it confiscated at US immigration. By the time he touches down in LAX, the professionally unimpressed architect has vanished, to be replaced by your classic Irish man abroad: all bare legs, boat shoes and the kind of flushed enthusiasm normally reserved for the national anthem at the end of the local GAA disco.

“Wow … This is amazing. Isn’t it? Nothing compares to this,” he breathes at the glass box carved into the cliffs at Laguna Beach.

“Wow. I could sit here all month,” he gushes, looking at the LA sunset.

“I’ve never seen a piece of glass that thick before,” he sighs dreamily, as he’s shown around a house under construction.

“You literally have a swimming pool in your kitchen,” he says later, to vegan chef Julie. “This is one of the most inspirational places I have ever seen to cook.”

“Woah,” he gasped the week before, seemingly undone by the transformation of a regular chair a La-Z Boy, as he was shown around a $35 million mansion in the Hamptons. “Do you know it does this?”

Dermot is the millennial’s Daniel O’Donnell. Like Daniel, he’s so wholesome, you could butter him and make cheese sandwiches with him. You may love him or loathe him – and judging by the Twitter reaction there are plenty of us who do both – but you know he’s the kind of guy you could have brought to your debs , even if he’d insist on telling your the brutal truth about your €300 dress (namely, “I told you you should have gone for the €800 one”).

But, for all his notions about bathtubs-with-views – I mean, honestly – your family would adore him: your auntie Pat could talk optimum utility room dimensions to him all night long, and he wouldn’t be the kind of guy to run off with the captain of the school hockey team.

In every programme involving Dermot Bannon, there’s a moment when the narrative reaches Peak Dermot. On Sunday night, we it came when he found himself confronted with the “wave house”, an experimental LA home – gasp! – not designed by an architect.

“When I hear ‘not designed by an architect’, I immediately hear ‘oh, I operated on my knee myself’,” he sniffs.

Once inside, though, Dermot is won over by the art installation shower, the sensible integrated fridge and the owner’s tactile walls. Let’s face it, Dermot has never met an experimental wall covering he didn’t like.

But the joy of Dermot is that, underneath all the guff about tile finishes, he’s as lovably awkward as any Irish person who grew up in pre-Celtic Tiger Ireland when they find themselves in the company of the super rich.

In Sunday’s programme, he wondered about whether Julie might get bears in her kitchen, and the wisdom of having to walk outside to get to your bedroom. “What happens when it’s lashing rain?” he asks, voicing the questions that literally no-one has ever asked Julie before, neither bears nor rain being something LA residents spend too much time worrying about.

As much as Dermot might spectacularly lose the run of himself over gold houses in the desert and in-kitchen swimming pools, he hasn’t forgotten his roots as the son of an Irish home economics teacher. He was visibly put out when an Irish builder showed him an unused $3,000 bathtub that had to be thrown out because it “looked too cheap”, and confessed to having previously dumped brand new $20,000 kitchens. You can imagine that the next Bannon family holiday might be spent skip diving in LA.

As the builder tells him about the “Botox rooms” and in-house igloos he has previously built, Dermot’s thoughts turn to where you’d dry the school uniforms in a place like this, and whether those glass doors would be letting in draughts. “I suppose if you’re spending this on it, you’re not going to be worried about leaving on the immersion,” he chuckles, equal parts impressed and shocked.

And that’s why Dermot is the nation’s sweetheart.

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