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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