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TV Review: London Irish – offensive for not being funny

L-r:  Bronagh (Sinead Keenan), Connor (Kerr Logan), Packy (Peter Campion) and Niamh (Kat Reagan)
L-r: Bronagh (Sinead Keenan), Connor (Kerr Logan), Packy (Peter Campion) and Niamh (Kat Reagan)

London Irish
Channel 4
Tues, 10pm

  (out of five)

BEFORE we try to explain why London Irish is, to borrow one of their own phrases, “a barrel of balls,” a few words for the defence.

It’s hard to make a decent comedy. The proof is in the dearth of funny programmes. Since the last great Irish comedy, Father Ted, what has there been?

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RTÉ struck a rich vein of material that was never going to last in the early 2000s. Paths to Freedom was excellent, as was the first series of Bachelors Walk. In the years that have followed there has been a string of forgettable comedies.

The state broadcaster had an open goal a couple of years back with Hardy Bucks. The self-produced YouTube shorts captured small-town Ireland in all its absurdity and hilarity. Then the Montrose professionals managed to suck the lifeblood from something beautiful.

Hopes for London Irish were inflated by the fact that it would have nothing to do with Donnybrook’s finest. Instead, like Father Ted, it would air on Channel 4.

Apart from the appearance of Ardal O’Hanlon, that is where the commonality ends.

London Irish depicts hard-drinking, wise-cracking 20-somethings in a no-clichés-barred manner.

The show does not shirk the depravity of what makes up for a lot of people’s squandered youth. What it misses, though, is the heart and soul; the humanity and warmth behind the cruelty and slagging. And, most crucially of all for this genre of television programme, it misses the humour.

There are many problems with London Irish. The biggest by far is that it is not funny. Not even a little bit.

Characters don’t have to be likeable but they at least need to be people we’d enjoy being around; people you could imagine laughing at or with if you were in their company.


Instead we get this bunch:

Packy: forgettable, waffling student type with an alright jacket.

Conor: zany student type. If you think somebody arriving home from a night out with a road sign under his arm is hysterical, you’d probably like him.

Niamh: ditzy and oblivious but not in an endearing way; Just irritating. Imagine an Irish Phoebe Buffay, now make her more stupid and more annoying.

Bronagh: the pick of the bunch: every word spat out of her pursed gob is acidic, vitriolic, bitter or insulting. Where the others are underwhelming, watching and listening to her wears you down. A c**t is what she likes to call others. She is one herself.

These dull, unsympathetic characters are the product of bad writing and are teamed up with more bad writing as the show progresses. An example of this is Niamh’s psycho smack-dealing boyfriend. He’s called Tyson. That’s just incredibly lazy. If everybody approached the naming of secondary characters like that there would be no Tod Unctuous, no Pat Mustard, no Father Stone.

The first episode meanders along pointlessly towards the culmination at a pub quiz. Along the way we’re treated to jokes that show the characters as prejudiced against English people and Protestants and we learn they are not afraid to take the piss out of people with disabilities.

There may be a backlash against some of this (in the next episode jokes about necrophilia and paedophilia enter the mix). Lots of viewers out there are engaged in competitive outraged but in the internet age it is fairly tough to shock the majority.

Ultimately, a debate on what joke is or isn’t acceptable would earn London Irish a reprieve it doesn’t deserve.

The least acceptable form of jokes will always be those that aren’t funny. For that reason alone, Packy, Conor, Niamh and Bronagh (especially Bronagh) can f*** right off.


Ronan Early

Ronan Early is Sports Editor and columnist with The Irish Post. Follow him on Twitter @RonanEarly

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24 comments on “TV Review: London Irish – offensive for not being funny”

  1. Mrs harvey

    Oh dear very bad indeed and why is the guy call "packy" i really dont get it its not a irish thing just a rasict one not funny

    • Patrick

      Packy is a common shortening of the name Patrick in Ireland, and predates the time when the offensive term "p*ki" was initially misused by BRITISH newspapers by hundreds of years.

      • Ellie

        Misused, in what context? Paki=Pakistani Brit=British, Scott's=Scottish what's the difference?

  2. Dave

    Happy-go-lucky feckless Irish drunks, always good for a laugh .. at 15:40 they do a masturbation joke about an amputee and his prostetic hand. CH4 were clever enough to get a 'native' woman to write it, so can't can't accuse them of depicting the worst ignorant English stereotype of the Irish from about fifty years ago. Tune in next week to watch Niamh ****ing a cadaver for £20 ...

  3. DavidT

    Thank god for the only review of this show I can actually agree with. You're spot on, the characters are unlikeable, Bronagh is a c**t... and most of all it isn't funny.

    I'm sure series 2 is already comissioned.

  4. mark quinn

    Great review . Total cock

  5. Ollie

    Why sink to the writer's level by calling Bronagh a c::t?

  6. Patk101

    Another of the so-called comedies that rely on foul language, shots at minorities, and the now requisite Irishness (mrs. Browns boys).
    Real comedy..... Only Fools And Horses, Father Ted, Fawlty Towers.....relied on being funny. I have a feeling that what writers, producers, programmers deem 'funny' these days is their own personal idea of it. I doubt if the general population of the UK find the unending 'panel shows', those relying on more smut than comedy, watchable, or the likes of the current 'Irish' comedy and 'comedians' as actually funny.

  7. Geraldine Cowan

    Outdated stereo types and not a bit funny. I won't be watching it again. I'd rather have yet another rerun of father Ted or Mrs brown's Boys. This programme is absolute rubbish. Can it, please.

  8. Conor

    I actually quite enjoy it... The first episode was a bit of a shock as the level of swearing wasn't expected but I laughed immensely at the second episode and am looking forward to the third

  9. Ellie

    Some people really need a sense of humour bypass. It's very funny. It's quick, witty and very current. And the gorgeous Peter Campion is in it. If you don't like it, don't watch it.

  10. Ellie

    Nobody swears like the Irish :)

  11. Ben

    I'm not Irish, I just watched two adverts on TV of this show. It looks awful why is it meant to be a comedy.

    The joke in the second advert was so terrible I could cry.

    Why are these shows on TV, how do people find these funny?

  12. Peadar

    Great funny show, and very true to my experiences particularly in the 80's,

  13. Gemma

    Wise up will ye! It's only a bit of craic and it does represent young irish people these days, especially with the binge drinking and the swearing. I can't stop laughing at it all, stop slabberin about it!

  14. L Conran

    This review is ridiculous!!! I'm Irish,and I'm a southerner, born in Dublin, but I found this show hilarious! So much that I couldn't even keep my cereal in whilst watching I was laughing so hard! It made me remember how proud I am to be Irish! All about the 'fun' Love it!!

  15. decker

    The 2 best years of my life were working in Wildwood NJ USA with this bunch and a 100 more like them. If you watch it remember its comedy this is not an affront to the Northern Irish its them at their best I miss those days surrounded by people who had been dragged through hell backwards because NOTHING phased them,because they were armed with the CRAICH and life would always be better tomorrow. In closing i will say this ,watch it,remember we where all young and Feckless at one time so have a lagh and to put it in the words of Pip Buck Giles Connor saoirse Rohna Barry and the rest WISE UP

  16. grainne

    I fucking love london irish! I find the slagging hilarious and I love the characters. Bronaghs anger makes her funny. Ok niamh can get abit anoying sometimes but conor and packy are hilarious. Seriously love this show and genuinely devastated the series is over!

  17. Harry

    Just shows what wankers critics are. The spirit of young Irish, down but not out. The humour is native Derry, one of the funniest places in the world.
    There obviously won't be a second series because of po-faced reviews like this but enjoy it while you can.
    This can't be compared to Father Ted, any more than The Pogues can to that wee Donegal singer in the cardigans that your mother loves.

  18. Jay

    As a 20 something with an hilarious Irish family and flatmate, and living in London, I find the programme very funny! I don't like to think of programmes causing offence. However, I think that the characters are likeable and relatable. I live in one of the most Irish parts of London, and adore the Irish bunch that live here. And think there is really no harm in having a laugh at our own 'stereotypical' characteristics. The charters are of course exaggerated, but we all know that! The humour, such as thinking that the Irish relatives believe everything in London is outrageously expensive, and that they looooove their drink, has at least some level of ridiculous funniness! But of course I do hope that no one takes too much offence, as I really don't think it was attended in that way :)

  19. Jay

    And in addition, I really do think there is a severe lack of Irish comedy (which I find HILARIOUS) out there!! :)

  20. Nick

    I love this show. It is original, and hilarious. "I told you to close the bathroom window." I really hope they keep this going.

  21. Brogan

    I know this is old now but I thought I'd rise in it's defense. I thought it was funny. I liked it. Was it the best? No. Was it good? Yes, I thought so. Should people find the Stereotypes insulting? No. I don't find Scottish stereotypes in Trainspotting insulting.
    Maybe I'm the only one who liked it but I did like it.

  22. Alison

    I LOVE London Irish! Absolutely hilarious. Shocking comedy at it's best x I am the proud owner of the DVD & really hope there is a 2nd series. I find all the characters likeable & entertaining x MORE PLEASE!


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