Subscriber OnlyPeople

Emer McLysaght: Good riddance Operation Transformation. Here’s what RTÉ should put in its place

Ireland’s Best Bungalow, Normal People 2 and Daft on Daft would be perfect to fill a gap in the schedule

I never watched a full episode of Operation Transformation, but I know enough about it to feel relieved that it’s been axed. Okay, so they weren’t filming mortified Irish men in their knickers anymore, but its sinister appearance in the schedule every January has only served to reinforce the damaging “famine or feast” attitude to Christmas excesses and grim New Year restrictions. Somewhat ominously, RTÉ has pledged to announce a new show to fill the spot. Here are some suggestions.

Ireland’s Best Bungalow

One-off 1970s bungalows are as crucial to the Irish landscape as thatched cottages and Minion art made from used tyres. Ireland’s Best Bungalow will be presented by a dashing interior designer with a moustache and a stern but likeable architect fancied by every straight man who watches because she reminds them of a teacher they were obsessed with in first year. They’ll travel around the country from ribbon development to ribbon development, determining who’s made the most of their inevitable utility room extension, and who is the most delira with their Stira.

Muff and Fartrim

Another factual entertainment gem. A presenter (Doireann Garrihy maybe, now that she’s jacked in the early mornings?) visits the most unfortunately named places in Ireland to uncover the heart and soul of each village and townland. There’s surely poignancy in Fartrim in Co Cavan, just as there are hopes and dreams in Lower Balix, Co Tyrone. The series will climax with a visit to the Muff Diving Club in Co Donegal.

Normal People 2

Look, Sally Rooney didn’t write a follow up to the coming-of-age heartache of Normal People but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t focus on a sequel. Think of the distribution money. The Americans are absolutely gagging for more from Connell and Marianne. Okay, so Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar Jones are A-listers now. Mescal is literally The Gladiator, for goodness sake. They might go for a bit of filming in New York, though. Some angst on the Lower East Side. A tender moment at a GAA match in Queens.


Daft on Daft

Another show to appeal to the Irish viewing public’s insatiable appetite for property porn. In Daft on Daft, an intrepid and tenacious reporter (does anyone have a number for Kevvo of Physiquiz and Scratch Saturday fame?) finds the most dubious-sounding rental market ads on and goes along to view the properties with a hidden camera. We’re talking studios where the bed is described as “conveniently located”, i.e. it’s balancing on the washing machine, and underground dungeons described as “flooded with natural light”, when really it’s just a small hole in the ceiling to let the CO2 out.

Shopping Shockers

In this two-part special, an Irish celebrity of average size tries to go clothes shopping on the high street. She tries to make sense of the sizing in Zara, and even braves the changing rooms. She carries out a size comparison where she tries on size 12 jeans in a variety of stores only to find that some wouldn’t fit a toddler, while others are comparable to a 16 in competing retailers. There’s a segment where talking heads mourn the loss of A-Wear, which probably never went beyond a size 14. The Irish celebrity has a breakdown in H&M and retires to the Marks & Spencer cafe to do some online shopping. She returns to Zara with Jedward, who are immune to shame, and with their help finds a cagoule that fits.


Ideally this would just be re-running old episodes of the late 70s/early 80s RTÉ show about traditional Irish crafts and craftspeople. However, an updated version may be acceptable but only if it is made in exactly the same way as the original programme. No zany presenters, no social media gimmicks, no craft influencers. Just beautifully shot close-ups of deli workers making breakfast rolls and carpenters making built-in units for the huge tellies and Nintendo Switch cables.

Intuitively Eating Around Ireland

Dieticians and health professionals who’ve long criticised Operation Transformation go on a stunning food tour of the country, sampling the best local delicacies Ireland has to offer while also teaching the practice of Intuitive Eating. They’ll show the country how to foster a positive relationship with food, rather than see it as a cog in the wheel of weight control. Think nurturing a positive body image in Nenagh, and honouring hunger cues in Hackballscross (which might also feature on Muff and Fartrim come to think of it).