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The Full Irish Hidden Camera Show understands the craic must be baited, captured and solemnly clubbed to death

Patrick Freyne: Frequently it seems as if those ‘duped’ by Doireann Garrihy, Carl Mullan and Donncha O’Callaghan are playing along, much as you would indulge the tomfoolery of a child

“You know what I reckon the Irish people would love right now from us at RTÉ?”

“After Tubsgate, the Toy Show musical fiasco and all those Dáil committees? I have no idea.”

“Us playing tricks on them in public. Representatives of the station going out there to embarrass the licence-fee payer. Really going for it. Making complete eejits of them, one by one. Literally pointing our fingers at them and laughing while wearing wigs. Laughing right into their big stupid faces. The fools.”

“Interesting. Who would we get to present it?”


“I was thinking Noel Kelly.”

“He’s not available.”

“What about Doireann Garrihy, Carl Mullan and Donncha O’Callaghan?”

And that’s how I imagine The Full Irish Hidden Camera Show (RTÉ One, Sundays) was pitched to an RTÉ commissioner on their last day before the Bakhurst purge saw them retired on a hefty pension. It has a long legacy, the hidden-camera prank show. It has been a staple of light entertainment for decades: The Live Mike, Beadle’s About, the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1991 (originally called Vladimir Lenin’s Hidden Camera Prank Show), the surveillance panopticon in which we all live now, the Nixon tapes, Naked Camera, MrBeast (probably).

I sometimes wonder if Ireland is a hidden-camera prank show. Some days I genuinely expect a man in a bad fake beard to stifle a giggle and point towards a camera that has been deftly hidden in a hedge. The man will take off the beard, and it will be WT Cosgrave. And how we will all laugh, realising that we have been living in an idyllic, well-run state with American-style taxes and Scandinavian-style services all along. Cosgrave, you scamp!

The aforementioned television presenters are, in fairness, pretty wacky. The presenters of 2FM’s morning radio show, they are a breed of broadcaster who understand that the craic is a precious creature that must be baited, captured and then solemnly clubbed to death. They signal their jokes with wide eyes and gurning gums and the dramatic oscillation of their voices and accents. They also provide visual variety, including, as they do, at least one former rugby player. So they each have distinctly sized bodies and differently shaped heads, which makes them operate on the nervous system much like Peppa Pig or the Teletubbies or Ant and Dec or Harry Harlow’s wire mother (Donncha) and cloth mother (Carl). I’m excited already at the thought of someone putting bad wigs on them.

The show starts with the trio on a red carpet, at which point Carl is hit by a custard pie, Donncha is hit by a comedy boxing glove and Doireann is doused by feathers but not tar (too expensive). “This is pretty wacky!” their roguish expressions seem to say, and it would take an Irish Times level of joylessness to disagree. Then we see them in a tiny car, rocketing along the byways of our blighted nation and carefully taking turns to say sentences, much like anxious parents explaining “death” to a precocious child.

There’s also the chance that the general public recognise them but think that working as a wedding violinist, beekeeper or family photographer are the kinds of things RTÉ presenters need to do on the side

In the first item of this week’s episode, a bewigged Doireann Garrihy, entirely recognisable as Doireann Garrihy, sets herself up as a home-security salesperson who convinces some members of the public that they have accidentally injured an entirely recognisable Donncha O’Callaghan by setting off a small powder bomb. Ah, yes, the old “convince someone they’ve possibly wounded a stranger” boondoggle. What larks! If they tried this with me, an anxious person terrified of public disgrace, it would most likely lead to a series of larger and larger crimes as I attempted to evade embarrassment and justice.

“If you look over there you’ll see a hidden camera,” I imagine Doireann saying, at the end of my spree. “And now many people are dead.”

“Hilarious!” I’ll say from the back of the police van, wearing one of those face grilles that Hannibal Lecter wears.

To be honest, it feels probable that everyone who encounters this triumvirate recognises them from all the billboards and TV shows they regularly appear on. They wear easily seen-through disguises akin to Clark Kent’s glasses or Willie O’Dea’s moustache or a very famous person’s sunglasses and baseball cap. Frequently it seems as if the people “duped” by their panto-style contrivances are playing along, much as you would kindly indulge the innocent tomfoolery of a child. (The Innocent Tomfoolery of a Child was the working title of the show.)

And, of course, there’s also the chance that the general public recognise them but think that working as a wedding violinist, beekeeper or family photographer – all guises adopted for this week’s deceptions – are the kinds of things RTÉ presenters need to do on the side thanks to the broadcaster’s dwindling licence-fee income. “Doireann Garrihy keeps bees now,” is something I’ve been telling people all week, forgetting that it was on this show that I saw her keep bees but remembering how convincingly she played the part of Doireann Garrihy keeping bees. It’s only after watching a few episodes that I consider the possibility that Donncha, Doireann and Carl are being put through this mortification as punishment for something. But then I shake my head sadly, because, no, it is we who are being punished.

Fallout (Prime Video) concerns the collective punishment of the human race via nuclear apocalypse. “Ah, the sweet release of death,” to quote the members of the public roped into hidden-camera-prank shenanigans. Fallout is, as you youngsters probably know, based on a very successful video game. Recently the moving fungal-zombie romp The Last of Us proved that parlaying video-game content into prestige television could be very successful. So expect a number of shows like this in the coming years – Emma Stone as Ms Pac-Man, Colin Farrell as one of the paddles in Pong, Dame Judi Dench as Donkey Kong – that sort of stuff.

Fallout involves the excellent Ella Purnell (previously seen on Yellowjackets) as Lucy, a citizen of a cosseted, retrofuturist underground civilisation. She must venture out into the irradiated badlands in search of her kidnapped father. It’s a bit of a step down for her. “Clean hair, good teeth and all 10 fingers. Must be nice,” a craggy merchant of the ramshackle wasteland says to our heroine. (They’re words I’ve said many times to people from Dalkey.) The outside world is populated by eccentric scavengers, overgrown insects, religious cults, angry bears, men in big iron suits and at least one charismatic, desiccated zombie cowboy (the ever-brilliant Walton Goggins). A bit like the postapocalyptic world it depicts, Fallout sometimes feels as if it’s recycling and reusing the past without rhyme or reason. But it’s good, goofy, gory fun, and at no point do the creators show you a hidden camera, take off their wigs, point at you and laugh.