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On road to nowhere

I HAVE to admit that whenever I look at the TV listings and spot an upcoming programme featuring a British celebrity taking a tour of Ireland, a little piece of me dies.

Terry Wogan's recent, two-part jaunt around the oul' sod was a case in point: an embarrassingly awful exercise in point-and-snigger Paddywackery from the man who's made a lucrative, lifelong career out of peddling a particular brand of shrink-wrapped blarney to the indulgent UK masses.

And before anyone pulls me up to point out that Wogan is NOT a British celebrity but an Irish one, born, bred, buttered and seasoned with shamrock in Limerick, let me say that I beg to differ.

Wogan might have been Irish, in the sense most of us understand it, once upon a time, but that's hardly the case these days.

Britain moulded him. Britain gave him a profile and a career. He holds a British passport as well as an Irish one.

To paraphrase Jimmy Magee (and that's not something I do lightly, believe me), Wogan is more British than the British themselves.

He belongs to the British now. He's their national treasure, not ours, and frankly I'm quite happy with that arrangement.

All of which is a roundabout way -- and apologies for the detour -- of getting to All Roads Lead Home.

There have been some pretty dreadful celebrity travelogues in the past, yet this has to be the silliest and most soul-sappingly pointless one we've encountered in years.

In a nutshell, actors Stephen Mangan and Alison Steadman, plus the tediously unfunny and tiresomely ubiquitous Sue Perkins, who's been on more programmes lately than the Microsoft logo, undertake three journeys to different locations.

Twist No. 1 is that they have to find their way to wherever they're going without help or guidance.

No maps, compasses, sat-navs, mobile phones or any other devices that might make things easy are permitted.

They have to get from one place to another under their own steam, without any pre-arranged transport laid on. That, at least, is how it's supposed to work. But there have been rumours that the whole thing is one big con, and that the three of them have been sneakily ferried around by comfy car when the need arises -- which, since there's a camera crew in tow, I imagine it does regularly.

Twist No. 2 is that each of them has a personal connection to one of the destinations. In this case it was the turn of Stephen Mangan, whose parents were born in the West of Ireland but emigrated to London before he was born.

Despite the fact of Mangan stating, at the very outset, that he's regularly visited his aunties, uncles and cousins in Ireland over the years, All Roads Lead Home asked us to believe that he was completely clueless about how to get from A to B.

As you'd expect from this type of thing, it was knee-deep in the kind of Oirish cliches that every British programme focusing on Ireland seems incapable of avoiding.

Was there fiddle music? There was, to be sure, to be sure, to be sure. Was the weather wet and windy? Begorrah and bejaysus, sure 'twas only terrible.

The fillum was barely two minutes started and sure weren't we after seeing a close-up shot of a puddle, begod!

We're so used in this country to being casually patronised by the dimwits who largely populate the television community, it's hard to muster up the energy to be offended any more.

But forget getting worked up about stereotypes. The most offensive thing about All Roads Lead Home is that it's just SO . . . BLOODY . . . BORING. There were long sequences where the trio stood around in an anonymous field, pretending to be trying to plot their course by the wind, the sun, the shape of the landscape and, at one point, by which part of a statue of the Virgin Mary was the warmest.

If you believe this drivel, you probably believe in leprechauns too.



all roads lead home HIIII