herald

Tuesday 23 September 2014

A funny savaging of all things Irish

Whoever commissioned a full series of The Savage Eye is either brave or mad. Rather surprisingly, though, they may well have made a good call.

David McSavage is the most divisive comedian in the country. He's been known to heckle his own audience, while his 2007 appearance on The Late Late Show has gone down in legend as one of that programme's most excruciating, bite-your-knuckles episodes. Forget car-crash television; that was a full-scale pile up on a motorway.

That said, the first episode of The Savage Eye displayed a wild, possibly uncontainable, imagination on the loose. Framed as a mockdoc about Irish culture, it was a Gatling gun full of bile and rage that strafed any target in range -- and indeed in rage.

It hit some, missed others and winged quite a few. It's the closest thing you'll find to someone's frenzied thoughts being bottled, shaken up and then sprayed in your face.

Some patches of it were riotously funny; like the ubiquitous Bono popping up in a toilet bowl to preach. Or Seamus Heaney wandering across a bog, reciting a dreary poem about turf. Or the mad publican who tells a tourist: "Irish dancing is a martial art invented by the IRA."

There was also a vicious swipe at Des Bishop and his championing of the Irish language. While it won't please Bishop, it might just tickle people who prefer their comedy without a dose of sanctimoniousness.

Things flagged slightly near the end, and some of the aforementioned publican's envelope-pushing rants nudged dangerously over the line that separates provocative from offensive. But if the rest of the series maintains the invention and momentum and doesn't grow repetitive, as Little Britain did, McSavage might be on to something.

I wouldn't care to be inside the man's brain, yet I liked quite a lot of what came spilling out of it last night.

Plenty of people regard the Stephen Ireland saga as a disgrace. Plenty more see it as a farce. But is it an actual scandal? I mean, nobody died -- least of all Stephen Ireland's grannies.

Nonetheless, Scannal took another flick through the already well-thumbed tale of Grannygate and the dramatically changing hairstyles of its star attraction.

It's a bit soon to be taking a retrospective look at a story for which an ending has probably yet to be written, and the sniggering tone of the programme wasn't exactly productive.

"It's not about winning," said the Organism Formerly Known As Jordan as she departed I'm A Celeb. "It's not about money for me." That's true. It's all about exposure and neediness. So that's mission accomplished, then.

She could be a Doctor Who monster, a creature that survives wholly on attention. You could practically hear the oxygen being sucked from the trees while she was there.

She's human napalm. The jungle will be better without her.

TOMORROW: Pat reviews Paradox (BBC1), while cheering on Debrecen against Liverpool in the Champions League (TV3)

STACEY'S STARS

The Savage Eye ***

Scannal *

I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! ***

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