Shivers as claw of 70s reaches from TV
All Star Mr & Mrs (TV3/UTV, Saturday)
The Boyz Are Back in Town (TV3, Sunday)
All Ireland County Quiz (TV3, Saturday)
If you're up to speed on your Monty Python, you'll know that no one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Amid the dying embers of 2008, no one expects the Spousal Inquisition, aka hoary old gameshow Mr & Mrs, either.
Yet here it is, a quintessential piece of crap from the terrible 1970s, reanimated and with the label "All Star Christmas Special" attached like a tatty piece of tinsel. The All Star bit is questionable. We've got Ronan Keating and his missus; mmm... starry, yes, I'll concede that one.
But Tamzin Outhwaite and her hubby? Terry Venables and his wife Yvette? Ah, come on: someone is pulling my Christmas cracker.
Anyway, it's still as flat and tedious as it was in its previous, celebrity-free incarnations, but at least it has the saving grace of not being hosted by Vernon Kay, he of the ivory teeth, who does MC duties on All Star Family Fortunes. Instead, we get joined-at-the-hip duo Fern Britton and Phillip Schofield.
What with this, plus creepy old Tom Jones feeling Myleene Klass's bottom on light ents throwback For One Night Only a couple of hours later, and Noel's Christmas Presents and the awful Gladiators on Sky 1 last night, it was like being haunted by the ghosts of Christmas telly past. Brrr ...
Nostalgia and Ronan Keating were also at the centre of TV3's The Boyz Are Back in Town, a documentary produced by Sky Television following the ageing boyband as they hooked up for their current reunion tour.
I'd expected this to be an hour of shameless marketing puffery to plug the inevitable Christmas compilation CD and DVD; instead, it was a tough and frank look at what tore Boyzone apart in 2000 and the bitterness that lingers.
"Boyzone broke up because Ronan wanted a solo career," Louis Walsh said unequivocally, admitting that he'd been nudging Keating in that direction for some time.
Keating sees it differently: "Everyone decided on the break." He does admit, though, to being the reason the group didn't get back together sooner. He's unapologetic about it. "This is my career. This is what I do."
Stephen Gately and Mikey Graham, who was baffled when he couldn't land a solo recording contract (and he CAN sing, by the way), admitted to spiralling into depression.
The newly calmed Shane Lynch is the most philosophical about the past, while Keith Duffy is the most honest and outspoken, admitting that the musical aspect of Boyzone is the least important thing to him.
"I've just turned down six months of acting work I've been chasing for three years," he said. "I'm a much better actor than I am a singer."
Boyzone's music may be as bland as dry white bread but this unexpectedly raw, expletive-laden film was anything but.
Finally, just enough space to mention TV3's All Ireland County Quiz, an excellent series, energetically hosted by Paul Connolly and featuring school teams, that recalls Blackboard Jungle. It's been running quietly on Saturday afternoons and deserves a friendlier slot.
All Star Mr & Mrs *
The Boyz Are Back in Town * * *
All Ireland County Quiz * * *