SEE RO­NAN O’REILLY’S VER­DICT

Irish Daily Mail - - News - GOGGLEBOX IRE­LAND

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

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