It may no longer have the X fac­tor but it’s still the per­fect com­fort tele­vi­sion…

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - YOUR TV WEEK -

What ex­actly is the point of Gary Bar­low? Ex­cept for the fact that he could fit neatly into any TV show in Bri­tain at the drop of a hat? He has the sort of non-threat­en­ing, an­o­dyne ex­pres­sion that producers love. If he hadn’t once been a mem­ber of Take That, you’d get the feel­ing he’d have been equally at home as a Match Of The Day pan­el­list. Un­for­tu­nately for him, he re­placed Si­mon Cow­ell on The X Fac­tor (Satur­day/Sun­day, TV3/UTV, 8pm). Suf­fice to say that next to the black hole on the panel that is Bar­low, Ni­cole Scherzinger looks charis­matic.

It was my first time watch­ing it this year, and there’s more Bo­tox, croc­o­dile tears and fake tan than ever. The drama un­fold­ing on screen is about as con­vinc­ing as a de­ter­gent ad, but it’s hard not to en­joy be­ing swept up in it all. While it has its de­trac­tors among the more se­ri­ous-minded – and gen­er­ally less well-paid – in the mu­sic fra­ter­nity, The X Fac­tor, de­spite the rat­ings, gets my vote in the Satur­day evening en­ter­tain­ment wars. It’s not about mu­sic, af­ter all, but get­ting your mug on TV – and I don’t like se­quins.

Talk­ing of des­per­ate wannabes, The Face (Mon­day, Sky Liv­ing, 9pm) is Sky’s an­swer to Bri­tain And Ire­land’s Next Top Model on… eh, Sky Liv­ing. The smug­ness lev­els were dan­ger­ously high as preen­ing su­per­mod­els Naomi Camp­bell, Caro­line Win­berg and Erin O’Con­nor each se­lected a team of girls they could men­tor to­wards the ul­ti­mate prize of a Max Fac­tor con­tract. If The X Fac­tor is cruel, then this was out and out sadism. The poor girls had to sashay down a fake cat­walk wear­ing noth­ing more than their un­der­wear and what looked like a wonky lamp­shade, while be­ing sub­jected to sneer­ing re­marks from the pro­fes­sional fash­ion­istas and told to go home. It’s sad to think of young peo­ple’s self-worth be­ing tied to the crumbs thrown at them by a few fa­mous faces paid to play a part on TV.

Fi­nally, one of the best TV shows of the last five years came to an end this week. While there were no great sur­prises in the fi­nal episode of Break­ing Bad, the loose ends were tied up in a most sat­is­fy­ing way. And un­like re­al­ity TV, those who de­served it most got their just deserts. It’s been a long time since an Ir­ish tele­vi­sion drama en­joyed such uni­ver­sal ac­claim as the Dublin­set crime se­ries. We’re three se­ries down, and some of the big names, such as Ai­dan Gillen and Robert Shee­han, are (al­most) gone, but Nidge (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) is hang­ing on and de­ter­mined to make the deal of his life. When one of the clients in a brothel has trou­ble pay­ing his bills, Nidge steps in to sug­gest he help the gang im­port a huge con­sign­ment of drugs. But he doesn’t re­alise that an un­der­cover de­tec­tive unit is track­ing his ev­ery move us­ing the lat­est in sur­veil­lance equip­ment. The unit’s head is the steely, ma­nip­u­la­tive Det Insp Mick Moyni­han (Brian F. O’Byrne), who’ll stop at noth­ing to get his man. Aoib­hinn McGin­nity (above) re­turns as gang­ster’s moll Tr­ish.

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