Emily in Paris is unaccountably watchable despite being entirely frictionless and devoid of stakes

Patrick Freyne: She has no French yet she’s thriving in a Parisian marketing firm?

Daniel Airey lost the eight hours a day of help from a personal assistant after he graduated from college. Trying to get a similar service through the HSE has been a battle. Photograph: Laura Hutton

For people with disabilities, living an independent life is close to impossible without a personal assistant – but it’s not easy g(...)

Natasha Lyonne in Russian Doll Season 1. Photograph: Courtesy of Netflix

The big shows I’m anticipating in 2022, featuring Baby Yoda and my wife’s other husband

Boris Johnson: Like the British PM’s, I’m fairly sure my direct-debit obligations are only going to increase as the years go by. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Pool/Getty

What do I mean? Well ... mumble, mumble, mumble. Plus nine other TV trends of 2021

Breege Clancy: ‘It’s a very shocking and incomprehensible form of death’. Photograph: Tom Honan

The charity Cry Ireland is campaigning to raise awareness of sudden cardiac death

Look at the cut of us now, gorging on food and alcohol, and worshipping not Jesus but Santy, a pagan god of plenty. Photograph: iStock/Getty

Patrick Freyne: Once Christmas jumpers happened only ‘in America’. Now? Everywhere

Chucky: The must-have toy this Christmas

Why come up with new ideas when you can just reanimate a 1980s murderous doll?

Princess Switch: Netflix’s Christmas kingdoms must have Vanessa Hudgenses as far as the eye can see

Patrick Freyne: The Princess Switch films celebrate Yuletide tat and aristocratic grandeur

Richie Sadlier outside the Aviva Stadium in Dublin: ‘I’ve a real interest in people.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The former footballer on sport and drinking, abuse and therapy, consent and reinvention

 Lucy Burke with daughters Amelia (14) and Kitty (12), from Dublin, during their family visit to Barretstown. Photograph: Alan Betson

The Co Kildare camp is open again, to help children who are sick ‘feel a bit normal’

‘High fantasy’ is a genre where when someone says, ‘This is very, very long’ the writer in question looks happy and says, ‘Thank you!’

Patrick Freyne: Amazon Prime’s The Wheel of Time dives straight into mystical whimsy

Niall Breslin's tattoo

Hope, love, trauma: Patrick Freyne hears the stories behind people’s body art

Ebanana Scrooge: the radicalised banana in Aldi’s Christmas advert. Photograph: Aldi/PA Wire

Patrick Freyne: Disney’s ad is quite moving. M&S’s needs more existential angst

Look smart: Indigenous people joined climate change activists at Glasgow Green for the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on Saturday. Photograph: Getty

Climate activists unite as ‘a cleansing voice, the voice of truth and it has to be out there’

Activists wearing fish heads during an Ocean Rebellion demonstration on Thursday in Glasgow. Photograph: Peter Summers/Getty Images

The couch-surfing activists have little contact with the powerful people. But they’re connected

Members of indigenous groups from Brazil told demonstrators about the deaths of activists and destruction of rainforests. Photograph: PA

Patrick Freyne meets activists at a protest in Glasgow, as Greta Thunberg addresses the crowd

Police and  protesters at the entrance of the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow. Photograph:  Andrew Milligan/PA

Protesters make gradual progress through Glasgow streets usually flanked by police

 US actor Leonardo DiCaprio attending on day three of Cop26  in Glasgow, Scotland. Photograph:   Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

‘The negotiation is a competition about what your country needs, and everyone is selling how good they are at saving the world’

A delegate passes a display of polar bears wearing life jackets on the Tuvalu trade stand on the sidelines of the Cop26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on Monday. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

Former president is a 'prisoner of hope' as nations meet to discuss climate targets

Tom Clonan: ‘If the Army in and of itself is an unsafe place for women, then it’s not fit for purpose.’ Photograph: Alan Betson

The whistleblower recalls his revelation of abuse and harassment in the Defence Forces

The noughties were the golden age of free speech, when Simon Cowell wouldn’t desist from crushing the dreams of someone whose resting face could already be described as “in great pain”. Photo: RTÉ

Patrick Freyne: RTÉ’s The Last Singer Standing proves pop is now a middle-aged interest

For more than 34 years  Robert  Harris has been warden of  one of Ireland’s most remote and isolated locations – the monastic Island of Skellig Michael. Photograph: Valerie O’Sullivan

Robert L Harris on spending 34 years as warden of the remote, monastic island

The cats are generally in the nude, though there are some exceptions, like Mr Mistoffelees, who is wearing a top hat and a sparkly jacket

Nightmarish cat people with tails but human limbs, breasts and bums? TS Eliot would approve

Kellie Harrington at the Sport Ireland Institute building at the National Sports Campus, Abbotstown. Photograph: Alan Betson

The boxer was ‘very happy’ before she won her gold medal. She wants to keep it that way

Jeanna De Waal in the musical Diana. Photograph: Sara Krulwich/New York Times

Diana: The Musical tells the story of the famous tea-towel and mug model Diana, princess of Wales

Ann Marie Hourihane: It seems like every issue Hourihane has dealt with in her decades of journalism are revisited in her new book through the prism of death. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Hourihane’s new book is a powerful exploration of death, dying and rituals in Ireland

The fiddle player on becoming a ‘vegetarian, eastern-thinking, long-haired something’

The Great British Bake Off: the programme trades on mild peril

Who could replace Mary Berry, named after both the mother of Christ and a popular cake filling?

Rosita Boland. Photograph: Alan Betson

‘Sometimes life is hard and complicated and messy. It wouldn’t be authentic to ignore that’

The Big Deal: The only judge in this crowd worthy of being on a Talent Show Supreme Court is probably comedian Deirdre O’Kane

Patrick Freyne: In The Big Deal, cash-strapped entertainers vie for a few months’ rent money

The celebrities get ready for an early bath in Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week – The Professionals. Photograph: RTÉ

Patrick Freyne: As an Army brat, I have lots of insights into Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week – The Professionals

Ann Ingle. Photograph: Alan Betson

Author talks about her memoir, Openhearted, and defying expectations as she gets older

In Ready to Mingle, 12 male hunks shack up with a solitary female hunk and vie for her affections like common garden bees

The hunks in Ready to Mingle clearly have delicate skin: they keep ripping their clothes off

Patrick Freyne: I leapfrogged several violent young thugs as I rose through the tough-boy ranks at my local national school

Schooldays I’ll Never Forget: How did I do it? I channelled The A-Team’s ‘Howling Mad’ Murdock

David Greene from Dublin City Council has been inspecting the tunnels under Dublin for 49 years. Photograph: Enda O’Dowd.

Patrick Freyne explores the capital’s little-known subterranean river network

Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins 2021. Photograph: Pete Dadds/Channel 4

Everyone loves crying celebs. So Celebrity SAS exposes its stars to CS gas in the first episode

‘We went to this private school and there was a lot of egos floating around ... There was a lot of stuff about status and what your dad does.’

The popstars reflect on their career in show business, social justice and parenthood

The Walking Dead returns, but are we who still watch it those walking dead of the title?

If zombies are metaphors for our deeper anxieties, what does The Walking Dead say about us?

The new Mill Street Global Student Accommodation in Dublin which has 400 units averaging €1,000 a month. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Concerns persist that purpose-built student accommodation is unaffordable for students

Ant & Dec’s DNA Journey: rest assured, there is weeping. Photograph: RTÉ

Patrick Freyne: All that’s left for Ant and Dec to do is drink red lemonade from an old Tayto bag

Quite well off: Jeremy Clarkson

Patrick Freyne: I will be giving Clarkson’s Farm my usual joyless Marxist critique, but first...

Friends: David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston as ‘Ross’ and ‘Rachel’. Photograph: NBC Universal/Getty

At €1m an epsiode, ‘Ross’ and ‘Rachel’ should be obliged to say they’re more than Friends

He-Man and Battle Cat in Masters of the Universe: Revelation

Patrick Freyne: Like all great fiction, Masters of the Universe asks the big questions

Tommy Bryne in his back garden. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

'I had a stroke over this place in 2016… The stress of it. No one was helping us'

Patrick Freyne sharpens his knife skills on the  ‘essence of survival’ course at the Irish National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig, Co Wexford.  Photograph: Patrick Browne

You must slow down to nature’s pace, be able to make fire, and be prepared to eat anything

Sexy Beasts: James, who goes on a date with a drone-flying zombie, an ex-army pixie and a songwriting leopard

You’ll either hate Sexy Beasts, Netflix’s new dating show, or like it so much it disturbs you

Pure Grit: ‘It’s very scary. They’re really wild horses. And Sharmaine is tiny,’ says film-maker Kim Bartley

Kim Bartley’s film Pure Grit tells the moving story of Indian relay racer Sharmaine Weed

From left to right: Selina Xu, Emily Murray Nelson, Joe Reidy, Louí Montague, Michael Lavery, Aisling Murphy, Éadaoin O’Neill and Ray McHallem outside the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Photograph: Damien Eagers

Writers from Fighting Words programme meet for first time as their plays grace the stage

Adam Demos as Brad Simon in Netflix’s Sex/Life. Photograph: Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

Patrick Freyne: I live in hope that there’s a cameo from the real Billy Connolly

Students from Coláiste Uí Chadhain Irish College near Baile Na hAbhann, Co Galway, practice their singing for the houses competition. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Irish college may be cancelled this year but it’s an experience that never changes. Ever.

Richard Curran: we meet him on the grounds of a stately home over which he presides dressed in a nice suit

Patrick Freyne: I get why people want to be a bit rich: poverty sucks. But why Rich-List rich?

Irish youth workers have banded together to seek an end to drug prohibition to remove criminal risk from users

The hunks and hunkettes of Love Island 2021. Photograph: ITV

Patrick Freyne: Is the reality show giving young people unrealistic ideas? I wouldn’t say so

The G7 should have had a plan to vaccinate the world, says  former British prime minister Gordon Brown Photograph:  Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The former British prime minister spoke to Fintan O’Toole at the Irish Times Summer Nights Festival

Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy involves a man who savours his words almost as much as he savours his food. Photograph:  CNN

Patrick Freyne: A US celeb says he likes our favourite butter? Make him president

Theatregoers Phyl O’Farrell, Rian O’Farrell and Fay O’Farrell from Walkinstown, Dublin looking forward to the Abbey show on Monday evening. Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Live audience returns for the first time in 15 months, to see new play by Úna McKevitt

Some of the young stars of Our Town: ‘You’ve got working-class Bray. You’ve got middle-class Bray... It’s in the shadow of Dublin, so it has this identity thing.’ Photograph: Arthur Janowsky

A new TV series, Our Town, follows a diverse group of young people with big dreams

GB News: Dan Wootton, Andrew Neil and Michelle Dewberry

Patrick Freyne on Dan Wootton, Andrew Neil and a sort of Fox News UK

Anti-vaxxers: an Irish Freedom Party protester outside Custom House in Dublin in November 2020. Photograph: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty

Anti-vax sentiment is strong among people who rely on social media for most of their news

Marvel mischief: Tom Hiddleston as Loki

Patrick Freyne: Loki entertains, but soon all art will be sucked into the Marvel Cinematic Universe

James Vincent McMorrow on stage at the Iveagh Gardens. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times

‘I cried on the Luas on the way in,’ says one gig-goer, as live music returns to Ireland

Martyn Turner in his studio in Co Kildare. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill. Background: Martyn Turner

The Irish Times satirist on the X case cartoon, those worms and his inability to draw

In David O’Doherty’s new book a greedy developer gets his comeuppance when  some children rob a bank. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw / The Irish Times

The comedian on podcasting from Achill, his new children’s book, and comedy culture

Your Home Made Perfect: Angela Scanlon’s job in the short term is to be a likable Flava Flav-like hypewoman for the concept of architecture

Patrick Freyne: Ireland was wise to send the host to infiltrate their property industry. I trust her

Royal baby: Prince Archie with his parents, Meghan and Harry. Photograph: Shutterstock/Channel 4

Patrick Freyne: Royalty takes a lot of interpreting. Luckily, The Irish Times has me

Michael Lewis, the bestselling author, in his writing cottage in Berkeley, California. Photograph: Peter Prato/The New York Times

In his new book the Moneyball and Big Short author tackles the US response to Covid-19

Garth Brooks at Croke Park: Dubliners banned his concerts and built a big wall around the capital. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Patrick Freyne: 2014 was so awful … Thankfully everything’s perfect now in 2021

The CSO Irish Health Survey 2019, published last December, found that there were more than half a million family carers in the country.

At some point we all need care. Why is it so undervalued?

Star Wars: Emperor Palpatine cheers up the troops in The Bad Batch

I’d like to see a David Simon-helmed show dealing with galactic housing policy

King Lear in  a Van: Arthur Riordan in the title role. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

King Lear in a Van is a clever way of bringing theatre and drama to the masses

Being homeless during the pandemic has meant increased isolation and loneliness

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Patrick Freyne: Medical soaps do what prestige telly does, just backwards and in scrubs

Iarnród Enda: Enda Kenny could bicycle up your lane any day now offering to taoiseach for a nice pie. Photograph: Mike Mulcaire/RTÉ

Patrick Freyne: The former taoiseach looks well in retirement, face ruddy, rusty locks flowing

He's no longer just a comedian and radio host, but an author and meditation coach too

Host Paddy McGuinness on I Can See Your Voice. File photograph: Tom Dymond

Patrick Freyne: Paddy McGuinness is the lord of shiny-floor gameshows

One conspiracy inevitably leads to another, and ultimately ends with a belief that everything is orchestrated by a shadowy cabal involving the Illuminati, or lizard people or, frequently, if they are anti-Semitic, “the Jews”

Mocking conspiracy theories doesn’t work. To change minds you must challenge

Sean McKenna and Charles and Andrew Hendy of The  Mary Wallopers in the cottage/barn near Dundalk where they live and run traditional music Youtube gigs. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The Dundalk ballad band are tapping into the political power of folk, punk and hip-hop

‘I was following you Hugh Wallace. Give me that chicken leg and we’ll camp for the night. We’ll set out again at daylight when it’s safe.’ Photograph: Ruth Medjber

Patrick Freyne: In Home of the Year, Dublin aesthetes judge folk from the cultureless provinces

Author Rónán Hession wrote Leonard and Hungry Paul in 2017  in the evenings when his children were in bed. Photograph: Tom Honan / The Irish Times

Author of Leonard and Hungry Paul talks about music, small publishers and working as a civil servant

Dragons’ Den, BBC, series 18: Dragons: Touker Suleyman, Sara Davies, Deborah Meaden, Tej Lalvani, andPeter Jones. Photograph: BBC, Andrew Farrington

Patrick Freyne: Dragons’ Den is still on, a contender for longest running show on TV

Psychotherapist Maura Davis: ‘The uncertainty means people have more time at home to ruminate and overthink and go around in circles. People are lonely and isolated.’ Photograph: iStock

Prolonged lockdown causing anxiety and frustration, psychotherapists say

The Cork singer-songwriter has been writing songs to order, like an old-style bard

The Wall: Danny Dyer with contestants Aoife and Paul. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC

I’d watch The Wall host in anything, though. Cast him in your prestigious HBO drama, you cowards

Melanie Reis and Patrick Holohan on their wedding day at the Dublin Registry Office. Photograph: Enda O’Dowd

Covid restrictions mean only six can attend – including the bride and groom

 Patrick Freyne was taking time to talk to people around the city centre. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Patrick Freyne meets the people who now inhabit Dublin’s ‘sad but beautiful’ centre

The Today Show’s St Patrick’s Day Special, with Dáithí Ó Sé, is a national treasure chest of an episode

Patrick Freyne: That’s how I imagine him, anyhow. He’s almost as compelling as The Circle

 Fontaines DC: “Bohs are an organisation that really care about the community . . . Having a Dublin football team having ‘Refugees Welcome’ be the biggest thing on their shirt, that’s amazing,” says drummer Tom Coll.

A football club and rock band join forces: ‘Homelessness can’t be something we accept’

Jess Kavanagh listens respectfully to Alan McGarry on Eating with the Enemy. Photograph: Virgin Media Television

Patrick Freyne: Eating with the Enemy is a televisual response to our endless opinionising

Oprah with Meghan and Harry: the couple are charming, clever and good at being celebrities. Photograph: Joe Pugliese/Harpo via AP

After Harry and Meghan, the monarchy looks archaic and racist. Well duh

‘I’ve never done live stuff ever. It absolutely terrifies me. The idea of being heckled, I think, scares me more than anything else.’ Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The online comedian on stage fright, indie bands and why Navan isn’t a funny town

Gordon Ramsay now hosts 50 per cent of all programmes on television. Photographer: Mark Johnson

Patrick Freyne: This show's name – Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance – hints at why he’s doing it

Tribes of Europa. Photograph: Gordon Timpen/Netflix

Disagree with Tribes of Europa’s Crows? This is Project Fear talking. You just hate freedom

Devils: ostensibly critical of rich-folk shenanigans but also completely seduced by them. Photograph: Antonello & Monte/Sky

Devils delves into the dull swamp of wealth, sharp suits and plush but soulless offices

One man says his conversations with his partner are now normally ‘pretty deep’. Illustration: Ada daSilva/Getty

Divorce applications have risen, lawyers say, but many relationships have never been better

Married at First Sight Australia: Ning and Mark

Patrick Freyne: I hope your love endures like Married at First Sight Australia’s

The boy’s coffin arrived in a white horse-drawn hearse. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Priest spoke of ‘dark cloud’ over community when news of boy’s death reached them

Fate: The Winx Saga – seeing a bunch of English-accented people living in an Irish stately home is quite triggering for me

Patrick Freyne: If this makes me a ‘snowflake’, I might fit right into Fate: The Winx Saga

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