Joe Lycett gets around. The last we heard of the English comic he was threatening to shred £10,000 in protest at David Beckham’s cheerleading for the Qatar World Cup. Now he’s in Dublin making jokes at the expense of a well-known brand of stout and a well-known brand of epic rock.
Lycett’s short-break show is piled high with bells and whistles. The big gimmick on Travel Man (Channel 4, Friday, 8.30pm) is that each week he brings a celeb on the road. This year he has recruited Sarah Millican, Róisín Conaty and Asim Chaudhry and will be jetting off to Vilnius, Salzburg and Marseilles.
But first it’s to Dublin with Mawaan Rizwan. The Taskmaster comedian reckons he’s drawn the short straw – “out of all the places in the world you brought me to Dublin,” he protests, explaining he’d much rather be in Ibiza. Wouldn’t we all?
As a comedian, Lycett places great stock in his perceived edginess. Except for when he used to present The Great British Sewing Bee, where it was goody-two-shoes from the opening titles to the closing credits.
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His Dublin travelogue is, however, quite orthodox and also rather creaky. He explains that Dublin means Blackpool in, ahem, “old Irish Celtic” – a triple whammy of being inaccurate, condescending and massively annoying. There is also a visit to the Forty Foot bathing spot. Here the duo fling aside their dryrobes and flirt with hypothermia while paraphrasing James Joyce (“My scrotum has very much gone inside”).
Has Lycett missed any cliches? Not many. He is obliged under British broadcasting law to mention a popular brand of stout that has a harp as its symbol and that world leaders are forced to quaff on state visits. So it’s off to the brewery’s official tour – which is “in no way a slog you have to get through” to score a free drink.
They trek to Windmill Lane studios. “Ireland is famous for great music and U2,” he says, which sounds like a gag he wrote on the Luas. They make a jokey song and become overwrought upon hearing that Kylie once recorded there. I grow overwrought, too: for the first and, with luck, last time in my life I wish I were watching a U2 video.
Only once or twice do they veer off the beaten track. There is a trip to Assassination Custard, a hipster eatery on Kevin Street where the menus are printed on paper bags. The restaurant is trendy, a bit gritty, slightly madcap – the city we know from everyday life. But we don’t see much of that Dublin here. For one thing, it’s devoid of people. Where is everyone?
Travel Man: 48 Hours in Dublin is by turns underwhelming and patience testing. Forget about David Beckham and that £10,000 – somebody should have shredded Lycett’s itinerary and asked him to work harder at bringing the real Dublin to the screen. Instead we’re trapped on a Temple Bar stag weekend hosted by an Englishman abroad who won’t stop laughing at his own jokes.