TIM FANNING MY VIEW
It may no longer have the X factor but it’s still the perfect comfort television…
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.