Thursday 18 April 2019

How nice guys get turned over in the search for ratings

a new low: Sandwich row highlights undignified scramble for fame

REALITY BITES: Jennifer Maguire in Failte Towers
REALITY BITES: Jennifer Maguire in Failte Towers

THE Earl of Sandwich has a lot to answer for. Had he not invented the humble sandwich snack, viewers of RTE's Failte Towers might have fallen asleep with sheer boredom during last night's episode. And more than a few Irish celebrities would have survived with their dignity intact.

Alas, thanks to a blazing row over a few slices of bread and some filling, restaurateur Derry Clarke, musician Don Baker and TV presenter Liz O'Kane have seen their credibility ratings plummet.

It begs the question, what exactly were these people trying to prove by disgracing themselves on national television?


By definition, this type of reality TV is nothing more than a springboard for wannabe celebs who have somehow scraped onto the bottom of the fame ladder. Step forward Jennifer Maguire, Michelle Heaton, Donna and Joseph McCaul. They, at least, have something to gain from being ritually shamed in front of thousands of viewers. And yes, there's something ever so satisfying about watching a C-list celebrity tackling a pool of vomit or a blocked urinal.

But what in the world compelled musician Don Baker to throw his hat into the tawdry mix? If ever there's a man who has stood the test of time and maintained a fanbase in the face of changing music tastes, it's Don. He also has a reputation of being an all-round nice, mild-mannered guy.

Until last night, that is. All it took was the refusal of chef Liz O'Kane to make a simple sandwich for the blues king to lose the plot. All of a sudden it was handbags at dawn as judge Derry Clarke pulled him up on his less than accommodating attitude towards guests. Tempers soared and accusations of bullying filled the screen as a visibly enraged and over-tired Don vented his fury.

Good television? Yes, but it won't exactly do anything for Don's career.

It won't be covering Liz O'Kane in any glory either. One wonders what on earth the House Hunters presenter was thinking when she signed up for RTE's annual celebrity humiliation. This is a woman who has carved out a successful career in television. Yet for some bizarre reason, her short-lived stint on Failte Towers gave the impression that she was hell-bent on ruining it all.


Having refused orders from Don to make a sandwich for guests, she then marched up to Derry Clarke to display her arrogance in all its glory. And in a final salute to her dignity, she snootily told judges she had never begged for anything in her life. Liz dear, it's time to start begging for your credibility. Somebody has obviously stolen it.

God only knows what image she was trying to project, but she succeeded only in displaying eye-popping levels of pig-headedness.

The Great Sandwich Wars didn't exactly throw a flattering sheen on the eminent Derry Clarke either. Then again, when you're an established restaurant owner, agreeing to appear on a reality TV show is always going to be the beginning of a downward slide.

As the owner of one of the capital's most exclusive restaurants and holder of a Michelin star, this is a man who truly has it made. Why then did he decide to throw himself into the ugly pit of C-list celebrities? And once in there, why did he enter into a showdown with Don and Liz in order to prove a point about a measly sandwich?

Is Derry attempting to woo more diners to his Baggot St restaurant? His performance last night won't exactly bring them flocking in the doors.

Like the rest of the beaming idiots up in Castlebellingham, Don and Liz will no doubt insist that their antics were all for the sake of charity. Well here's some news for you guys, there's more than one way to skin a cat.

Fancy fundraising? Grab your collection bucket or organise a concert. Use your talents. But don't go on the undignified scramble for fame only to realise that you've achieved nothing more than unwelcome notoriety.

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