TV and Ra­dio

The Young Of­fend­ers bring their glo­ri­ous trou­bles to the small screen; win­ning the Lotto proves un­ex­pect­edly costly for some; and an ex­tended The Tonight Show risks dry­ing up in con­ver­sa­tion

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS - PETER CRAWLEY

Screen and sound re­views

For all its buzzy and brisk edit­ing, which can give the ac­tion the manic slam of a comic strip and the strut of a hip-hop video, the de­light of the show is in its small mo­ments, its com­i­cally tan­gled and ef­fort­lessly touch­ing vi­sion of friend­ship

If you’ve al­ready met Conor and Jock, the delin­quent stars of Peter Foott’s glo­ri­ous com­ing-of-age ca­per The Young Of­fend­ers, you shouldn’t be sur­prised to see them back again so soon. The two Cork teenagers were never go­ing to stay out of trou­ble for long.

If you haven’t had the plea­sure, though, Foott’s tele­vi­sion ver­sion (RTÉ2, Thur­day, 9.30pm) is ready to make our in­tro­duc­tions again. High up on a rooftop, in their match­ing se­vere hair­cuts and wispy ado­les­cent mous­taches, Chris Wal­ley’s out­go­ing and widely-vil­i­fied schemer, Jock, and Alex Mur­phy’s im­pres­sion­able, per­ma­nently con­fused ac­com­plice, Conor, are steal­ing lead, ready to sell it, per­chance to buy sex dolls.

It says some­thing about how exquisitely well cast Wal­ley and Mur­phy are in the parts, and how rou­tinely but af­fec­tion­ately Foott will punc­ture their plans, that they never seem less than adorable. Jock’s giddy sex-doll fan­tasy is de­flated when he as­signs it an ex­otic name (“That’s a guy’s name; Rueben,” clar­i­fies Conor). And the scheme is de­railed by Sergeant Healy (“A shit Ir­ish Ter­mi­na­tor”), for­ever in hot pur­suit as they cy­cle breath­lessly through a lov­ingly shot Cork city.

Steal­ing lead or bi­cy­cles may count as a get-rich-slow scheme: whereas the film fol­lowed a grand ad­ven­ture to sal­vage a ¤7m bale of co­caine, the tele­vi­sion se­ries brings their dreams and their pay­offs back down to size. It also curbs some of the ear­lier in­car­na­tion’s more car­toon­ish ex­cesses, re­tain­ing the film’s out­landish bad­die PJ Gal­lagher to play an ex­as­per­ated school prin­ci­pal in­stead. If any­thing, those ad­just­ments make the com­edy more con­fi­dent. When no one gives you a chance, grow­ing up is chal­leng­ing enough.

For all its buzzy and brisk edit­ing, which can give the ac­tion the manic slam of a comic strip and the strut of a hip-hop video, the de­light of the show is in its small mo­ments, its com­i­cally tan­gled and ef­fort­lessly touch­ing vi­sion of friend­ship. Conor strug­gles to un­der­stand it, and then to make it un­der­stood. “No ma, I’m not gay,” he at­tempts, in con­ver­sa­tion with Hi­lary Rose’s mar­vel­lously flawed young mother. “But if I were, he’d be the guy I’d like to be gay with.” Be­tween Derry Girls and The End of the F***ing

World, there are plenty of ways to see life through teenage eyes, as un­fair and as funny as it is. They may act tough, but The Young Of­fend­ers might be the most in­no­cent of them all.

Cork in the eye

Be care­ful what you wish for, sug­gests We Won the Lotto (RTé One, Mon­day, 9.35pm), a doc­u­men­tary about the grim­mer re­al­i­ties be­hind the fan­tasy, whose ef­fect is like a cham­pagne cork pop­ping and hit­ting you full force in the eye.

Imag­ine, for in­stance, ar­riv­ing to the gleam­ing white win­ners room of the Na­tional Lot­tery head­quar­ters and wel­comed into for­tune by a video of Craig Doyle. “Right,” beams vir­tual Craig, seem­ingly from a bud­get heaven, “it seems that you’re sit­ting com­fort­ably and you have a glass of some­thing bub­bly to hand…” For that money, I would want the real Craig Doyle.

Yet this dis­ap­point­ment serves as a use­ful in­tro­duc­tion to di­rec­tor Mar­ion Cullen’s ex­plo­ration of the lot­tery and its dis­con­tents, even as the pro­gramme tries to pre­serve its ef­fer­ves­cent fan­tasy for as long as pos­si­ble.

Only 5 per cent of Ir­ish win­ners go pub­lic and, of those, Cullen’s five win­ners seem less a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple than a col­lec­tion of the in­no­cent and the idio­syn­cratic.

The first win­ner of a sig­nif­i­cant jack­pot we meet is Billy Comer, whose ¤1.97 mil­lion bo­nanza in 1994, brought him, bizarrely, closer to the as­tro­nom­i­cal lev­els of wealth within his own fam­ily. “Oh Janey,” he re­calls his prop­erty de­vel­oper brother Brian say­ing at the news, “wel­come to the club.”

Whether it was sib­ling ri­valry, un­bri­dled fan­tasy or just bad luck that pro­pelled Billy into a se­ries of bad in­vest­ments, buy­ing up pubs in Gal­way, he does not say.

“A mil­lion pounds isn’t an aw­ful lot if you do the wrong things with it,” he says. “The re­ces­sion re­ally took its toll,” he says. “De­pres­sion took its toll as well.”

Vin­cent Keaney may laugh about it, with mys­ti­fy­ing gai­ety, but his story is very sim­i­lar. Win­ning £1 mil­lion in 1994, he bought the dole of­fice in Cobh and turned it into a Ti­tanic-themed bar and restau­rant, mort­gag­ing his home when it ran into debt. “It hit an ice­berg

and I think I hit one too,” he laughs, over a di­aphanous mu­sic clip that seems just as blasé.

Per­haps, like Keaney, the show is slow to burst the bub­ble, but it hits the jack­pot with the stag­ger­ing ironies of his story, or the as­ton­ish­ing statis­tic that 70 per cent of US Lotto win­ners de­clare bank­ruptcy within 20 years. Craig Doyle seems un­likely to tell you, but win­ning the lot­tery can be ex­tremely costly. “If I never won the lot­tery I’m al­most 1,000 per cent sure I’d be liv­ing here,” Keaney says of his dream house, sunk with the Ti­tanic. “But you can’t deny good luck. Good luck came with a price.” Now, there’s a chill­ing thought. It could be you.

Ex­tend­ed­chat

Early this week, Matt Cooper, the gen­er­ally tie­less co-host of The Tonight Show (Mon­day-Thurs­day, TV3, 11pm), sounded con­cerned. “How frus­trat­ing is this?” he asked. “We’ve been talk­ing about the same is­sue since late 2014 and yet we just keep hav­ing the same con­ver­sa­tions?”

It was the show’s first night since ex­tend­ing its sched­ule to four nights a week, and though the sub­ject was the hous­ing cri­sis – about which it is easy to feel all talked out – the ques­tion did not bode well. Is there re­ally enough con­ver­sa­tion to go round?

It may not have helped that the show ar­rived to a blue Mon­day. Open­ing with a lengthy panel con­ver­sa­tion on lone­li­ness, it af­forded its panel an un­hur­ried pré­cis of the sub­ject, from psy­chol­o­gist Mau­reen Gaffney’s il­lu­mi­nat­ing con­text and busi­ness­woman No­rah Casey’s frank per­sonal ac­count, to a can­did as­sess­ment of dig­i­tal alien­ation and di­min­ished hu­man con­tact from man of the peo­ple, Sen­a­tor David Nor­ris. “My sec­re­tary, Miriam, who’s won­der­ful, has to book air­line tick­ets for me,” he said. With only our won­der­ful sec­re­taries for com­pany, which of us could not re­late?

The Tonight Show, on the other hand, loves com­pany, re­quir­ing in Cooper and Ivan Yates two male pre­sen­ters to fill the space va­cated by the sul­phuric Vin­cent Browne, and sev­eral bod­ies to make its ca­pa­cious set – a sooth­ing swoosh of blue and cyan – seem less empty. Cooper and Ivan Yates are not quite as dis­sim­i­lar as their con­trast­ing ap­proaches to neck­wear and oc­ca­sional josh­ing would have us be­lieve, though, and the pro­gramme of­ten lacks pro­duc­tive fric­tion.

If Mon­day’s con­ver­sa­tions were civil, Tues­day’s were a blood sport, open­ing with a dis­cus­sion of the Na­tional Devel­op­ment Plan, “a po­lit­i­cal foot­ball” as Yates put it, which Fine Gael TD Martin Hey­don and Fianna Fáil TD Anne Rab­bitte were in­vited to kick, along with each other.

Only econ­o­mist Colm McCarthy seemed will­ing to hold any­one’s feet to the fire, though, with an unswerv­ing ad­her­ence to data and a sim­ple, yet tellingly unan­swer­able ques­tion to the squab­bling politi­cians about how the cost of promised uni­ver­sal fi­bre-op­tic broadband could ever be met. The blather that fol­lowed was all talk.

The Na­tional Devel­op­ment Plan is still, no­to­ri­ously, a draft doc­u­ment, and that made Cooper’s wrap-up re­marks sound like the ful­fil­ment of his own prophetic wor­ries. “When it is ready we’ll have a big dis­cus­sion about it,” he promised. How frus­trat­ing is this? We just keep hav­ing the same con­ver­sa­tions.

PHO­TO­GRAPHS: MIKI BARLOK/RTE/ BRIAN MCEVOY

Alex Mur­phy and Chris Wal­ley in The Young Of­fend­ers; Lotto win­ner Vin­cent Keaney from Cobh in We Won the Lotto; Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates from The Tonight Show.

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