SEE RONAN O’REILLY’S VERDICT
I’VE long considered the vox pop to be the lowest form of journalism. Granted, this may well stem from my days as a jobbing reporter and being sent out to canvass people’s thoughts on the subject of the day.
The problem is that, even if you’re wearing a trilby with a card that spells ‘Press’ sticking out of the hatband, the average member of the public will automatically assume that you are either (a) a nutter, (b) a beggar or (c) trying to sell them something. And the few people who are actually willing to speak to reporters in these circumstances tend to have opinions that are boring, ill-informed or both.
Besides, if someone really wants to hear the irrational ramblings of A.N. Other, all they need to do is walk into the nearest pub. Nothing will convince me that anybody wants to read it in the newspaper.
Perhaps that’s the main reason why I’d never previously seen more than a snippet of Gogglebox while flicking through the channels.
Somewhere deep in my subconscious, I probably reckoned it would be like a glorified vox pop. Which it is in a way, of course, except better.
The thing that prompted me to watch it at last was discovering that Pat Wallace, a man with whom I have shared a convivial light ale or two on occasion, features in the third series. I should explain at this stage that Pat, former director of the National Museum of Ireland, is a distinguished archaeologist and author.
Yet unlike many noted scholars, he also happens to be highly entertaining. Put it this way: I don’t think there are too many other members of the Royal Irish Academy who can claim an encyclopaedic knowledge of the showband era.
None of these fine attributes had anything to do with my decision to look in on Pat’s performance, however. No, I was interested in seeing his plaintalking approach and refusal to suffer fools gladly.
Suffice to say that he didn’t disappoint. I suspect Pat spoke for many viewers when he reacted to Francis Brennan walking on to the set of The Late Late Show with the following two words: ‘Oh, Jesus.’
His wife Siobhan, sitting beside him on the couch, agreed: ‘I can’t stand him.’
They exchanged looks of incredulity as the pernickety hotelier proceeded to give a quick lesson in how to wash windows, before waving at the audience from the far side of the newly gleaming pane. Pat wasn’t impressed. ‘God...this is terrible,’ he growled. ‘He’s an appalling clown.’
Nor were the other participants much impressed with Francis’s appearance. Meanwhile, there was universal hilarity at cringemaking performances from both Marty Morrissey (at the National Ploughing Championships) and Michael Flatley (on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories).
I should also say there were some highly amusing running commentaries from sitting rooms right across the country. I’ll be particularly looking out again for teenager Tadhg and his grandmother Ettie, from Co. Clare; pals Michael, David and Gerry, from Co. Louth; and the Grufferty family, from Co. Kildare.
But the funniest bit came courtesy of Angela and Eileen, two apparently sweet old dears from Dublin. At they sat watching Crystal Swing doing their thing, Angela mentioned that she had a recollection of the daughter getting married in the not too distant past.
Her friend agreed that she was indeed correct. ‘Remember,’ added Eileen by way of a helpful reminder, ‘the oul’ wan was mutton dressed up as lamb.’
Boxing clever: Michael, David and Gerry offered amusing commentaries