My humble opinion



The Irish R.M is to Irish people, what Gone With the Wind is to black people, an insulting minstrel show. The colonial upper crust deal with the ape like antics of punch magazine stylised Irish people. Oh the common Paddies are so delightfully eccentric getting into drunken japes. But the long suffering Major is there to keep the livestock in line huzzah. The fact that Irish people actually collaborated in this makes me puke.

Republicans dont watch stand up, theyre busy watching cartoons, trying to see who's gay.

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I think this assessment is a bit harsh.

When the series was first broadcast on Channel 4 in the 1980s, the channel at the time was much more progressive than it is today, and also had a specific remit to cater to minority ethnic groups such as the Irish community in Britain. The "Irish RM", and re-runs of "The Late Late Show", were some of Channel 4's offerings for the Irish. Any material that could be considered even the slightest bit racist, would not be considered for broadcast on Channel 4.

The only contemporary media criticism I remember, as a teenager living in Britain who had the unusual habit of listening to RTE radio and the many *excellent* pirate stations from the R.o.I, was in the Daily Telegraph newspaper - a London-based, staunchly Conservative and Unionist paper which my father subscribed to; that paper expressed the ludicrous view that the series might evoke sympathy to the then Nationalist/Republican campaigns in the north of Ireland. This was around the time of the hunger strikes. I do not recall any discussion on Channel 4's "Right to Reply" programme.

As for the characters, Major Yeates is indeed the main representative of the British state, but as for keeping the livestock in line, his water spaniel would have done a better job. Major Yeates comes across as a bumbling, incompetent, nervous and gaffe prone individual, whose redeeming qualities are that he is also affable, likeable and will give anyone a fair hearing. In reality, most Resident Magistrates were quite ruthless, and in the decade after the series ends, many would be assassinated by the IRA.

Basically the series is a situation comedy, and should be regarded as such. It has as much similarity to the real Ireland of the 1900s, as "Cheers" - another 1980's Channel 4 offering - had to actual licenced premises in Boston Massachusetts. To be fair, it does not claim to be anything else.

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Watching it again right now. Very low-key, often slow-moving in the extreme, but also entertaining. Like looking at an alien world. It's quite amazing how DIFFERENT Peter Bowles is in this to any other role I've seen him play. None of the self-confidence of "Richard Devere" ("Bederich Pouloveska"). One has to think they DESPERATELY needed someone to fill that job for his Major Yates to have won the appointment!

It's also amazing how, for example, in the 2nd episode (the one about horse stealing), it's mostly set-up and long, long LONG sequence of building suspense. Until the VERY end, when everything's suddenly settled, and in quite friendly fashion. And then he turns to his fiancee and says, politely, "Things are different in Ireland, my dear." And suddenly I started HOWLING with laughter!!! It wasn't even that funny of a line... I think it was just the build-up, and that last line was the release.

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From all I've read and seen, many English genuinely believed they were superior to everyone else on the planet, and the Irish deeply resented having English magistrates overseeing things. But Major Yates is obviously an exception. While "not trying to be Irish" as one character said to him, he's honest, decent and likable (and a potential patsy for too many con games going on).

At the beginning of the 1st episode, it comes out that Yates had neither the money nor the connections to advance any higher in his military career. He saw the R.M. post as an alternative, while clearly being apprehensive as to how it would work out. He wasn't even sure if Phillipa would want to marry him... but once that hurdle was out of the way, it was a slow upward progression.


I suppose a good question might be, were the original writers English or Irish?

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Personally I find the criticism here to be so banal, uninformed and absurd that I think it's very difficult to claim that the original poster has "a point." These stories are based upon the "Experiences of an Irish R.M." book series written by two Irish authors (Somerville and Ross) in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They were of the very penniless-aristocratic class that they were writing about, and though they certainly exaggerated, (as comedy tends to do) their influences came from the lives they lived and the people they knew.

As such, to imply that the writing is somehow "anti-Irish" is rather insipid, and to further complain that the views contained within the stories seem to be antiquated is rather like complaining that Shakespearean writings seem "too Elizabethan." Of COURSE these stories and characters seem old fashioned--they were written over a century ago!

People on the internet would suffer fewer instances of coming across as blithely ignorant asses if they'd bother to do ten seconds' research on a subject before posting about it. This in an era where it is the simplest thing in the world to plug "The Irish R.M." into google and see what you can learn about it in a few seconds. Of course, learning about something might remove the opportunity to complain about it, so I can see the aversion.

If you don't like it, then of course that's an absolutely legitimate criticism, but stop seeing conspiracies where none exist.

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The Vicar of Dibley wasn't written a century ago and it tends to do the same thing that the OP complains is being done in The Irish RM, except instead of highlighting and expanding Irish stereotypes, it's aiming barbs at English country folk.

The book (and film versions) of Cold Comfort Farm is guilty of similar "offenses."

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True, and there were even English people who participated in the productions and thus the perpetuation of those stereotypes! If we don't inform people that they should be offended by this stuff, they might lose the opportunity to be offended!

I suppose I have to accept that there are folks out there whose skin is about one micron thick, and worry greatly about others having a bad opinion of them. For my own part, the attitude has always been something along the lines of, "If you're too dumb to understand my awesomeness, why would I seek out your approval?"

Narcissistic? A tad, perhaps...but it's superior to being whiny.

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And more recently, the English series Jam & Jerusalem, created by Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French, took a poke at English country folk too.

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And rather wonderfully too.

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Somerville and Ross came from upper class irish families. Their attitude towards working class characters can be a bit condescending, but no more so than any portrayal of English working class people would have been at the time the stories were written.

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You need to sort yourself out. I'm Irish. I've always loved this. It has given us valuable memories of our favourite actors - British and Irish.

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To the OP....

Go on with you, now.


"Someone has been tampering with Hank's memories."

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How about the fact that Irish people wrote the thing in the first place? Why didn't you consider that?

It's more of a class thing, since the original books were written by a pair of authors from Ireland's gentry class, and the character of Major Yeates himself was originally meant to be "of Irish extraction" but kind of a fish out of water because he had been raised in England.

The DVDs coming with a "making of" documentary that was made during the first season/series, and they briefly interview the older guy who owned the house that was used for Shreelane in the show, and asked him if the depiction was accurate. Him being from the old gentry class himself, he felt that everything was spot on with the way people from the upper and lower classes were depicted.

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