ONES TO WATCH
drugs, O’Kelly’s investigation might simply never end. “We’d be very careful with who we’re dealing with,” one instructor tells him, as the hidden camera peers up attentively to contradict him. Scandalously operating out of a vitamin and health supplement shop operated by an equally incautious body builder, both men are filmed at length openly discussing their “business”. “That’s easy f**king money, that is,” says the body builder.
The other revelation of the programme is how little fines or censure work as a deterrent. One man, previously named in a Sporting Ireland investigation for supplying a prohibited substance, is filmed still peddling the same steroids. “It’s a cost of business,” Prof Brendan Buckley says of the fines. That ought to tell you everything you need to know about the reliability of the market.
So what are the solutions to this steroid epidemic? Adequate enforcement of the law, offers Prof Buckley. Better education about its consequences for young people, says almost everyone else. But the example of one man, James Fennelly, hints at something more radical. Fennelly’s nadir came on The Late Late Show, asked to lift a car on live television as Ireland’s Strongest Man. “It was car-crash stuff,” he says, referring to his mental state at the time, rather than the segment. He resigned himself to quit drugs immediately after.
The Late Late Show may be an even more potent intervention than RTÉ Investigates.
In the same way we watch the delectable
Twenty competing families are reduced to just four for Ireland’s Fittest Family (RTÉ One, Sunday, 6.30pm), now held in that ancient site for gladiatorial combat, Croke Park.
Andrea Levy, herself the subject of a documentary this week, has her novel
(BBC One, Tues, Wednesday, Thursday, 9pm) adapted for the screen as a three-part drama set against the last days of slavery in 19th-century Jamaica.
flourishes of TV chefs while eating hobnobs on the sofa, consuming the lavish displays of ostentatious wealth implies a similar discrepancy.
Making next month’s rent may be a dim but persistent worry, yet for a moment you can mull, semi-seriously, over whether it is wiser to buy your Gulfstream jet with mahogany and diamond fittings or just plain ol’ gold and rosewood.
In (RTÉ Two, Thursday, 10pm), an adorably cheap investigation into impossible extravagance, presenter Yasmine Akram tries to bridge the vast and unfair income inequality between our reality and our
imagination. A “small town Drogheda girl” sardonically at ease in $50m Los Angeles homes, Akram’s standard gag for the leathery realtors of La La Land is some variation on “I’ll take it!” which is a cruel joke to make for salespeople who clearly work on commission.
Akram, a writer and actor of no small renown, is a model of both accessibility and unreachable aspiration, teasing that you, too, can have it all. But not really, you big eejit. The show glides with her through conspicuously vacant homes, quoting theoretical prices, like a glorified advertisement, while a soundtrack of chillout burps politely in the background.
“This is like being in a shop!” Akram marvels of one million-dollar closet, which, it turns out, has been designed to emulate a luxury store. Here it is – the house that Saks built.
It’s harder to buy the show, though, which hasn’t decided what it is. Billionaires don’t stay in B&Bs, Akram tells us, but if they did… In that case, show me the breakfast.
The show’s more genuine inquiry is into the fortunes of Irish contacts who made good in LA, such as jet-hire entrepreneur Peter Le Bas, hotelier Ellis O’Connor and restaurateur Geraldine Gilliland, all of whom share humble brags with Akram for the benefit of the auld sod. We’ll take it!
Akram, fluently ironic if a little repetitive, is finally seduced. Wandering through a home she adores, for all its tacky embellishments, she emerges more moved than she anticipated and the bubble bursts in an instant: “I hate being poor.”