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Funny bones feel the Byrne

TV REVIEW

Jason Byrne is back on our screens with a new show and, contrary to my initial gut feeling that it was just another The Panel, I found it was not.
The Byrne Ultimatum is quite a funny show in which celebrity, and as always I use the term loosely, must battle for points. Like many English quiz shows of this kind, there is some audience participation in the form of a score-keeper and a music-maker or band in the form of another audience member.
The “celebrity” comedians/guests must answer a number of rather silly questions, some of which are in poor taste but many of which are very funny indeed. The show moves quickly and Byrne is quite good as presenter. His fast-paced questions and quips give the show a zany edge that works.
Now, we are only one episode in and things can sometimes be tough for a show in its infancy but, due to the fact that I laughed, didn’t switch over and thought I would like to see that again, I am going to go out on a limb and say that it will be both successful and enjoyable.
The audience participation is a good element and hopefully it will continue to be funny each week as new people take part and fulfil the various roles. The only problem I see with the show is that it may go stale quickly and cause viewers to switch off. The audience members they pick must be out-going but not dominant on stage and the contestants or celebrity guests must be able to think laterally, otherwise there will be too much chat from Jason Byrne who, as host, should keep his comments to a minimum. The Byrne Ultimatum has a Never Mind The Buzzcocks feel to it but with a nice dose of Irish humour that makes it more country-specific. In my book, this is a good thing. The Byrne Ultimatum is on on Monday nights on RTÉ Two at 9.55pm.
With all the talk about Ryan Tubridy this weather it is perhaps fitting that he was the first candidate in a new series of the Irish version of Who Do You Think You Are? This very successful programme which sees well-known Irish personalities trace their roots has gone from strength-to-strength and has exposed the viewing public of Ireland to some fascinating stories and also heightened our awareness of some of the hardships and indeed triumphs of the people who inhabited this land in the past.
It not only provides and insight into the life of the person who is tracing their roots but also into an Ireland that is lost or one that for many of us never even existed.
Ryan Tubridy is a very well-know figure in modern Irish life. His family are also quite famous and would have been known for their involvement in many aspects of Irish political life. Ryan now finds himself in one of the most coveted jobs in RTÉ, which makes him a good candidate. He is of interest to the people of Ireland now and it seems fitting to me anyway that this newfound interest should result in an investigation of where his family has come from.
This programme was much talked about over the past week because of Ryan’s family’s history in Irish politics. The two sides of his family are both enormously interesting from a historic and genealogical point-of-view. His is a story of rags-to-riches and, most surprisingly to him, judging by his reaction, of royal beginnings. Ryan is a descendant of Republican volunteers but his lineage traces directly back to the throne of England.
Tubridy’s journey is not only enlightening from the point of finding out about Irish culture but we also learn about the man who is now king of Montrose and dare I say, we like him more for that. He was a very honest and entertaining subject to follow and his reactions were genuine and inciteful.
The second series of Who Do You Think You Are? continues on Monday at 9.35pm.
It’s all happening on Monday nights on RTÉ and one of my most hated of presenters is back on the box. Baz Ashmawy, of How Low Can You Go? fame is back with a new series, thankfully by himself.
This new series sees him travelling around and engaging in different sub-cultures and groups around the world. The first episode of Baz’s Culture Shock is in Los Angelus. Here Baz takes part in a number of different therapies.
The best of these is the laughing yoga. This class is hosted by a larger than life character who not only scares Baz but makes him throw down many of his barriers. Now, I had no hope for this programme. I had thought that Baz was about as capable of hosting a documentary show as a dog is capable of rollerblading.
However, I was wrong. And whether it is my low expectation of the show or the fact that I am in good form, the fact remains that it was enjoyable and interesting. Baz, for the most part, does a good job of just letting these characters talk for themselves. The less he is involved the more enjoyable the story. I don’t say that to be mean. It is a compliment as he lets the subject speak for himself and the viewer to make up their own mind. Join Baz again next week on RTÉ Two at 10.25pm.

One to watch

Nurse Jackie stars Edie Falco as a hard-talking, hard-working and very flawed nurse in a New York City emergency room. Her day-to-day routine involves a lot of painkillers, tough decisions and her own brand of medical justice.
Every week there are a number of dilemmas and, although it is hard for anyone to say how true to life the character or indeed the situations are, the script is tight and it is very nice to see the medical profession through the eyes of a nurse and not a doctor for a change.
It has been hugely successful stateside and come just in time to fill the newly created ER-shaped hole. Nurse Jackie is on Tuesdays at 9.55pm on RTÉ TWO.

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