Love/Hate: London Irish

Copyright Channel 4

Maddy on why she loves London Irish:

Fast-paced, at times farcical and very, very funny, London Irish is one of those programmes that can immediately lighten your mood. It’s like a blend of The Hangover and Friends, except much more up-to-date, boasting fast-flowing humour and filthy language, topped off by the rat-tat-tat tempo of the Irish accent. If you want half an hour of unpretentious good fun, I couldn’t recommend it more.

Part of its charm lies in its zany characters; four Irish twenty-somethings attempting survival in the City of London. Packy is dryly sarcastic, Niamh and Conor are hilariously dim, while Bronagh is so viciously witty that I can’t help but admire her. The script is well-written, with punchy observations about everything from sex, God and terrorism to homosexuality. Derry-born writer Lisa McGee confronts serious issues with a fresh attitude – yes, it’s naughty and not 100% politically correct, but in my opinion meeting fear and misunderstanding with humour is the best way to actually normalise these matters.

London Irish taps into the funny side of the disastrous – the characters discuss death in the pub while enjoying a pint (“I wouldn’t mind being run over by an ice-cream van”). The sitcom parallels the subtle humour of everyday life to a comic extreme, including the kind of wicked one-liners that we all wish we had come up with. It’s rude, it’s fun, and it’s laugh-out-loud hilarious. One of my favourite moments is when Niamh comments on a Halloween outfit: ‘That is one seriously shite costume.’ Let’s face it; we’ll all find ourselves quoting the show at one point or another.

Will on why he hates London Irish:

London Irish spends most of its short run time perpetuating just about every Irish stereotype known to man, in the most banal and obvious of ways. Rather than satirising the Northern Irish people, their unique language and culture, it goes for shock value, purely for the sake of it. I would be completely fine with this, on the condition that it was funny – which it simply is not.

I’m not annoyed by the fact that they stereotype Irish people as hard drinkers or excessive swearers, as that may actually have some basis in fact, but that they do not actually manage to make good use of these stereotypes to make entertaining television. The characters have no real unique identity and fit into generic categories: the nice one, the stupid one, another stupid one. The plot lines are generic even by sitcom standards. It seems to rely on uninspired stock story lines – take the example of a man crawling out of a pub window to avoid a fight.

Lisa McGee’s script has the potential for some great comedy, however the amateurish production, the mediocre acting and a seemingly shoestring budget keep it firmly in the arena of a ridiculous YSTV drama.

I can’t help but feel there is degree of cynicism in the whole thing, that merely showing generally unpleasant and not overly intelligent Irish people going about their business, should be exotic and shocking enough to amuse English audiences. To quote a far superior Irish sitcom, Father Ted, “Down with this sort of thing”.