Wednesday 8 December 2010

I'd kick a square's ass for you in a minute, Mrs. Rickettes

Oh, Irish kids' TV - nobody does christmas quite like you do!

I've loved Podge and Rodge ever since they first showed up on the filler segment between kids' shows called The Den, which is a hefty chunk of broadcasting time to fill since Irish tv station RTE2 transmits roughly 10-12 hours of children's programming each day (if you include Home and Away), and naturally it became clear that not every second of it was being vetted by the network when Dub scumbag (and eventual Irish Eurovision entrant and UNICEF ambassador) Dustin Hoffman (turkey) showed up making comments that made sense to nobody under 20 about his cowboy construction company and string of failed businesses (which included a musical career), followed in due time by Podge, a ventriloquist's dummy owned by Zig (of Zig and Zag fame) who only spoke to Zig when the other presenters were distracted. He would bully Zig and make him steal competition prizes or secretly vandalise the set and pin everything on Zig and the kiddie audience went absolutely bananas trying to convince the presenters of what was going on behind their backs - they were clearly freaked out by the gimmick and it was hilarious to watch their heartfelt pleas being read out by a straight-faced Ray Darcy only to be brushed off with "Now, Zig, you wrote this letter, didn't you?" and then the depressed-to-tears Zig would get into even more trouble.
It's not that it was even that funny, just that it was just so creepy and clearly inappropriate as children's entertainment because the 'joke' was pretty much the same thing every time - Zig getting into shit for something he didn't do and then being bullied into terrified silence as he suffered the wrath of his friends. Eventually, Podge's cover was blown and he turned out to have been created by Ireland's most evil magician, except he was too evil for Ireland's most evil magician and he had to be hidden away, then his twin brother Rodge showed up and they eventually moved on to A Scare At Bedtime (a pun on the Irish television staple A Prayer At Bedtime), a series of short Irish urban legends, bad jokes and horror stories inexplicably broadcast by the po-faced RTE for reasons I will never fathom given the type of shite they usually churn out. They also did the odd special event like New Year's or Halloween, where they hosted such films as Zoltan: Hound of Dracula on the basis that it was shite and all RTE could afford, followed by Sabrina the Teenage Witch: the Movie, because it was after midnight and they intended to masturbate to it.
Nowadays, Podge and Rodge are household names as Ireland's most popular chat show hosts on an occasionally spectacular car crash of a programme that veers wildly between stupid and crude while also somehow trying to keep things vaguely palatable for the average 50-something that represents 90 percent of Irish television's viewers. In theory it's a losing battle, and RTE make no secret they don't understand the enduring appeal - but endure they do and this christmas I shall be watching all 150 episodes of A Scare At Bedtime while I make my way through the seasonal haul of home booze.

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