Thursday 21 March 2019

The joy of X, by TV3's toughest talent judge

Total Xposure judge Michael O'Doherty loved the attention and did wind-up contestants

SO it's Sean Munsanje who'll join the four girls to present Xpose, having been chosen by the Irish public as the winner of Total Xposure.

When the judges first met him, he seemed to have it all -- good looks, a bit of TV experience, and a different dimension to the other four girls on the show -- he's a boy.

Which is the single most common thing that anyone I spoke to in the past couple of months said the show needed.

He came good at just the right time, upping his game in the last three weeks, and can now look forward to a 7am start for the four-hour drive to a charity fashion show in Ballinrobe, Co Sligo. And then drive home again that night.

If my seven-week stint as a judge on Total Xposure has taught me one thing above all, it's the remarkable reach of TV.


Despite all the publicity I've done in the last 12 years to publicise my magazines, and the small degree of profile it has brought me, nothing prepared me for how people recognise you when you star -- I use the word with due trepidation -- as yourself on a TV series.

Critical opinion about Total Xposure has, to be honest, been mixed.

Some journalists have called it boring, others have called it life-threateningly awful. This very newspaper's TV critic tuned in on day one, and reported it to be "totally xtraneous and, totally s**t". See what he did there -- taking 'xposure' and turning it into 'xtraneous'?

That's why he's on the big bucks, while I have to struggle by, down to my last Lamborghini. And last week, the Sunday Independent referred to me as 'self-aggrandising and conceited'.

Opinion in the blogosphere hasn't been much warmer -- I stopped checking out blogs after the first week, when someone described me as 'an irritating little s**t'.

Then again, if TV critics are the lowest form of life, people who are reduced to posting opinions on the internet from their bedsit in front of a one-bar heater while chewing on re-heated pizza are not technically a life form at all.

It's a hackneyed cliche, but it's true -- public opinion really is the only thing that matters, and the 99pc positive feedback that I've got about the show from people I meet out and about (Residence and Krystle) has confirmed my opinion that those who can, do, and those who can't, review. They all think they're AA Gill, when realistically, they're probably just in AA.

Last Friday, as I was taking a break from filming in Dublin 1, a haggard-looking local shouted at me from across the street. I made a tapping gesture to my jacket, trying to show that I hadn't got any of what he was looking for, which I presumed to be hard drugs. How wrong I was. "You're Michael, aren't ya? From that TV show?" Yes, I nodded, thanks for watching. "You're f*****' rapid", he said with a thumbs up sign, making me wish on the spot that I'd thought of using such a beautifully succinct comment during my on-screen critiques.

It has been thus for the past seven weeks. Every time I've gone out, I've noticed groups of young women trying to summon up the courage to come over and ask me about the show.

And almost without fail, they've described how much they're enjoying it, before launching into their opinions as to who should win, who 'gets on their t**s' -- to coin my now patented phrase -- all of which often leads up to my being asked to pose for a photograph with them.

At the Galway Races two weeks ago, one girl who I'd been chatting to confessed that I was, and I quote, "the nicest celebrity I'd ever met". Not just a 'celebrity', itself a questionable judgment, but the nicest one ever. Out of curiosity, I asked her who the last celeb she met was. "Ronan Keating", she replied.

Suck on that, Ro...

If there was a problem with the show, it lay in its format. The ultimate joy out of shows like X Factor and Britain's Got Talent is watching the nutjobs, the car-crash moments derived from someone with no self- awareness making a t*t of themselves in front of the nation.


Only starting Total Xposure once the best 20 people had been chosen, however, meant that the contestants from day one were all, at least, moderately talented and articulate.

Unable to totally foul things up, and unwilling to be gratuitously rude to the judges, we were obliged most weeks to try to wind-up the contestants in order to create some drama. Which, when all you've got to go on is someone stuttering while reading an autocue, can be tough to do.

But the whole experience has left me with nothing but admiration for TV people, both in front of and behind the cameras.

The incredibly long hours, the constant stopping and starting to get something just right, the opening up of yourself to opinions from everyone with a TV set, and the fact that when you're out and about, there isn't really any such thing as 'your own time'. I've enjoyed nearly every minute of it, but would I do it again?

Actually, I probably would...

Pat Stacey -- Page 44

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