From the incredibly successful, culturally-defining Father Ted to the mightily popular drama Love/Hate, it’s fair to say Ireland has seen its fair share of brilliantly produced TV shows over the years. Of course, because it’s Ireland we’re talking about, humour-based shows will be prominent within my personal opinion-based elite list here.
1. Father Ted
C’mon now: no list, and I mean NO list of best of Irish TV shows would be complete without a deserved shout out to the iconic, hilariously-created Father Ted. The satirical comedy, which first aired on Britain’s Channel 4 from 1995 to 1998, wittingly takes the piss out of the Irish in a beautifully self-deprecating manner.
Irish stereotypes are delightfully displayed throughout Graham Linehan’s created show, which incidentally topped a 2008 poll for Ireland’s favourite television programmes. The Irish charm, heavy religious connection (especially at the time of filming), innocence, saying feck this, feck that for everything and obsession for tea are all presented in a genius-like fashion.
The fact that the show is still regularly aired on Irish television today says it all. To me, Father Ted is one of the shows you think about and say to yourself “this makes me proud to be Irish”. Not only is it light-hearted and an easy watch, but it contains everything for an Irish satire lover. What. A. Show.
If we’re talking about the best Irish television shows that have been aired in the past decade, Love/Hate takes first place in my eyes. The drama, which centres on Dublin’s criminal gang culture, captured the entire nation during its four-year stint on RTÉ television from 2010 to 2014. With little to no trace of humour in the psychological thriller, it was quite refreshing to see that the Irish nation embraced something slightly more intense, to put it lightly.
The compelling drama-based spectacle, which centres around murder and violent, graphic gangland crime, may be considered by some as quite an unnerving watch due to the the main characters constantly living in pure fear. For the majority of the Irish, however, this show was an absolute hit; a sensation; we simply couldn’t get enough of our Love/Hate dosage. Stuart Carolan (the show’s creator), a job well done my friend!
3. Bridget & Eamon
Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, Bridget & Eamon has certainly divided opinion since it was first broadcast in February of 2016. For me, though, it’s nothing but comedy gold. Just like the previously mentioned Father Ted, this 80’s Ireland based sitcom playfully mocks Ireland and its unique culture through a witty, self-effacing, comedy-focused technique.
The Jennifer Zamparelli-Bernard O’Shea comedy tag team certainly works a treat in the Jason Butler directed satire, which won an IFTA for Best Comedy at the 2016 IFTA GALA Television awards. Although the show’s purpose is to take the absolute piss (hilariously) out of 1980s Ireland, the show, in my opinion, still easily relates with the Irish people of today. At the end of the day, not much has changed since the 80’s in Ireland and Bridget & Eamon more than hits home with the comedy-eager Irish public as a result.
4. Podge & Rodge: A Scare At Bedtime
Created and developed by Ciaran Morrison and Mick O’Hara, this outrageously lewd, adult-natured comedy simply had to make this list due to its originality. I mean, the concept of Podge & Rodge: A Scare At Bedtime itself is simple enough: the, shall we say, slower of the two twin puppets, Rodge, being brutally insulted by his twin puppet brother, Podge. Sexual innuendos are thrown here, there and everywhere. Blunt and rude in nature, the show wouldn’t be my top recommendation for the faint-hearted, let alone those who may get easily offended.
However, at the heart of the show we find two innocent characters depicting wonderfully a typical Irish sense of humour. Although very much an in your face kind of show, there’s an endearing nature at the bottom of the brutal directness of the black humour-based comedy, which aired in Ireland from 1997 to 2006.
5. The Late Late Toy Show
Despite its once-a-year broadcast, the country’s most treasured Christmas-based show must make this list. The non-Christmas-based talk-show (The Late Late Show…with no toys) is, every year on the last Friday of November, transformed into a Christmas wonderland. Not even one Irish person would dare to miss it (unless Christmas and children ain’t your thing) even if the whole two-and-a-half hour show is repeated again..and again..and again.
There’s something quite magical about The Late Late Toy Show. Not only does it officially (in Ireland) mark the start of the festive period, but it also brings a whole lot of fun and joy to families all across the country. Having first been broadcast way back when in 1975, there’s not even a hint in sight that our uniquely Irish Christmas show will come to a stop anytime soon. Buíochas le Dia.