BBC4’s “The Walshes” is Mesmerically Unfunny, But Don’t Worry, it’s British.

Irelands' Richard Harris...

Ireland’s Richard Harris…

For many years the best and brightest from Ireland enjoyed dual citizenship in Britain. So, after his performance in say This Sporting Life, or A Man Called Horse, Richard Harris was referred to in the press there as “British”.

But when the following week he was arrested after yet another drunken brawl in a seedy pub, he was described by the same august organs as Irish.

Decades were spent gnashing teeth and crying into innumerable pints cursing perfidious Albion for its cultural rape and pillage.

But times have changed. Money, Sky Sports and Ryanair have all contributed to a change in our attitude to our friends across the way. And we’ve mostly managed to shed the chip that had weighed so heavily on our shoulders.

Indeed, recently we’ve been returning the compliment. So Daniel Day Lewis is plainly Irish. And The Walshes, like Mrs. Brown’s Boys before it, is clearly British. It has nothing to do with us. Seriously.

The Walshes, as the fella said, shit on a stick without the stick.

The Walshes, as the fella said; shit on a stick without the stick.

On the face of it, it’s made up of exactly the same ingredients as Father Ted. Stock characters in contrived scenarios behaving in an all too predictable way. One cliché after another.  But the characters – and therefore the performances – in Father Ted were all really appealing. And it was this that made their situations comic. None of the characters in The Walshes are remotely attractive, and many of them are vaguely unpleasant.

There was a split second, after a scene in which the da sits chuckling at an episode of Mrs. Brown’s Boys, when I wondered if I’d got it all wrong. Maybe it’s meant to be this unfunny. Perhaps this is the most brilliantly subversive sitcom ever made. And they’ve ruthlessly wrung anything that could in any way be considered comic, never mind an actual joke, from every single scene, to brilliantly deconstruct the very notion of what we understand by the term “sitcom”.

The plainly Irish Daniel D in the underrated The Age Of Innocence.

The plainly Irish Daniel D in the underrated The Age Of Innocence.

But there’s no getting away from how visibly pleased everyone involved is with what they’ve created, and how funny they all seem to find it. You can almost hear the guffaws emanating from the set. Which is to put it mildly baffling.

Still, not to worry. Like I say, it has nothing to with us. BBC production. It’s British through and through.

Unless of course… It’s all part of a brilliantly executed post modern joke. What do you think?

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