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Motoring show stalls

IF I WERE to make a motoring show I wouldn't bother with cars. I'd just sit in a cardboard box, clutching a saucepan lid like a steering wheel, my tongue protruding between my teeth and my hair flapping in the breeze created by my office fan. "Brrrm brrrm... Beep, beep!" I'd say, before climbing out and walking towards my camera-phone. "It's got the manoeuvrability of a Lotus but the classic look of a BMW," I'd say, casting an arched eyebrow back to my beloved box. "It handles like a dream!"

In comparison to Top Gear's vast budget, this is what all other motoring shows look like.

Top Gear's potent mix of middle-aged irresponsibility, OTT ideas and the financial might of the BBC has taken car-worship beyond the reach of less well-funded broadcasters. On Top Gear, baby-boomers race muscle cars across the Nevada desert. A car has to be moving very fast before it looks fast on television.

But without the help of expensive camera lenses, lavish travel budgets and absolution from the speed limit, Paddy Comyn, Kirsteen O'Sullivan and Alan Ennis, the affable hosts of TV3's motoring show Xccelerate, tootle around the Irish countryside like Noddy in Toytown, or, if you wish, me going "brrrrm" while sitting in a box.

They do their best. This week, Kirsteen took a jeep to the beach and started talking like a She-Clarkson: "Not only is she beautifully built and great value, she's also got one of the smartest engines around!" she said of the jeep, making me worry that my car might have a gender (How would I find out? Do they have "car genitals"? Do girl cars wear a bow like Ms Pacman?).

Later Paddy went on a tour of the Lotus factory in Hethel (a homage to Bosco's celebrated Magic Door trips to the bottle factory) where he at least gets to drive around a racing track, and Alan demonstrated the spaciousness of a Mazda by cramming a whole camogie team into it.

This has been done before. In fact, it's such an overused idea that I assumed in this instance it was actually a trial run for a senseless spree of sports-team kidnappings ("And we would have gotten away with it too," says the crew of Xccelerate in a 'gangster' voice, "If we hadn't filmed our practice-abduction and broadcast it on TV3!").

From Here to Maternity is an understated, beautifully observed documentary series about people going through a life-changing experience.

For those who think television is all about screeching wheels and explosions, it might come as a surprise to see the levels of drama created by the tiny lungs of a premature baby breathing with the help of an oxygen machine.

From Here to Maternity is incredibly moving, thanks to its mixture of parental love, infant vulnerability and kind strangers doing their best to help.

And it's hard not to be touched when post-caesarean mother of triplets Catherine McCarthy says: "I must wipe this smile off my face or my face will ache as much as my tummy."

Cork University Hospital is a very good hospital. Seattle Grace on Grey's Anatomy is a terrible hospital, in which good-looking doctors ("I don't care if you're unqualified Dr McSexyDoctor, for you have lovely eyes. Take my tonsils out!") discuss their relationship problems over gaping chest wounds and touch hands romantically as they reach for the same bloody scalpel.

This week, chief sexy doctor Meredith worried about her fertility while simultaneously helping a man with chest pains and trying to get to the bottom of another patient's mystery headaches. "He's got a knife sticking out of his head!" I observed helpfully. Turns out that was a different guy with a different headache.

Grey's Anatomy is complicated. It's also inherently ridiculous, but thanks to the sedative effect of well-crafted screwball dialogue and an emotive soundtrack, you'd hardly notice.