TV review: Daniel O'Donnell gets better with age

Daniel and Majella with celebrity architect Dermot Bannon (centre)

Room To Improve, RTE 1, Sunday at 9.30pm

Daniel O'Donnell is one of those rare performers who gather fans rather than moss as they grow older.

Think an Irish version of Cliff Richard.

It's not that Daniel is blessed with huge talent (he's a decent if unspectacular singer) but he can produce almost religious fervour in his supporters.

This has only increased in recent years with his non-musical television appearances.

First there was a hugely successful series where Daniel and his wife visited B&Bs throughout Ireland.

It sounds awful but it was wonderful television as awestruck Irish mammies welcomed the couple into their homes.

We also learned in Daniel and Majella's Road Trip what a warm couple they are.

Daniel may have had a reputation of being a bit pious, but in more recent years we've discovered his mischievous sense of humour.

And so there was much anticipation when it was revealed that the couple would star in the season launch of Room To Improve.

Dermot Bannon was engaged to remodel their home in Kincasslagh, Co Donegal.

Daniel is on the road a lot and Majella wanted something a bit cosier for when he was away.

But like all building projects, when the architect arrives the plans get more ambitious. So ambitious that the budget went from 200,000 euros to almost 400,000 euros.

Daniel's reaction was TV gold.

Bannon's announcement was met with complete shock and then after the celebrity architect suggests they could “chip away” at the bill by removing some of the additions, Daniel broke cover.

“There's no point beating about the bush … you'd have to take a chisel and hammer to get that back to something I'd like.”

Of course, Daniel was talked around by Majella, but not before a bit of a strop

He admitted the house was “in need of a wee facelift” but “… even though I'd like things done to the house, I couldn't care less if nothing was done”

It was warm, reassuring television and for once it wasn't a local version of a successful British format. This was uniquely Irish and the better for it.

More than 720,000 viewers agreed.

That was 200,000 more than Friday night's Late Late Show, making it the highest rating TV show in Ireland in the first six weeks of the year.


Match of the Day Live: FA Cup, BBC 1, Monday at 7.30pm

Sometimes drama just can't match the romance of live sport.

For the most part the BBC's broadcast of the FA Cup has been uninteresting as the competition has fallen out of favour with coaches, players and consequently fans.

While it's positive that the BBC has at least some live football, Brentford v Notts County can't compete with the Premier League, La Liga or the Champions League on subscription channels.

However, the romance of the cup returned this week.

First Rochdale got an unlikely draw against Spurs and then League One's (that's the 3rd division in old money) Wigan beat runaway PL leaders Manchester City in a game of break away goals, disputed sending offs, tunnel rows and pitch invasions.

It was fantastic.


The Brits, UTV, Wednesday at 8pm

The Brits went through their unusual prize giving, but there was a bit of an edge missing from the Mastercard sponsored event.

That was until Ariana Grande pulled out of the Manchester attack tribute section and Liam Gallagher stepped in at short notice.

Twenty years may have passed since Gallagher was at his height, but the air of menace and anger remain with him. It was a raw, emotional and fitting performance.

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