The Walshes, TV review: The jokes hit home in new Irish family sitcom
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Thursday 13 March 2014
Here's another addition to Father Ted co-creator Graham Linehan's impressive comedy CV. The Walshes, a Dublin-set family sitcom which Linehan co-wrote, began life as a web series by Irish comedy troupe Diet of Worms.
Now, thanks in part to Linehan's involvement, it's on BBC4 for a three-part series. Just three half-hour episodes seems unnecessarily cautious. Everybody enjoys a family sitcom, and this one is funnier than most.
Stroppy Ciara (Amy Stephenson) and gormless Rory (Rory Connolly) are twentysomething members of the boomerang generation, back at home due to Ireland's economic woes. Being back at home means putting up with dad Tony's (Niall Gaffney) endless practical jokes and mum Carmel's (Philippa Dunne) fussing.
The characters are all original creations of the Diet of Worms performers, but Linehan's touch is still palpable. Wild-eyed Rory wouldn't be out of place leaning against a crumbling Craggy Island wall and Carmel lets slip a Mrs Doyle-esque "go on" after bursting in on Ciara in the bathroom with a wooden spoon of gravy to taste.
Of course, it's not so long since another Irish family comedy, the unashamedly broad Mrs Brown's Boys, was delighting TV audiences and depressing TV critics. The Walshes, with its unexpectedly touching mother-daughter moment and surrealist tinges, hails from a different tradition. The eccentric but happy Walshes have more in common with Caroline Aherne's Royle family or the Goodmans on Channel 4's under-watched Friday Night Dinners.
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