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Daniel O'Donnell may be the main man but Majella is the real star of the show

By Lindy McDowell

Published 11/11/2015

Light-hearted stuff: Daniel and Majella
Light-hearted stuff: Daniel and Majella

To be fair a proposed television show featuring Daniel O'Donnell and the missus touring round local B&Bs doesn't immediately sound like ratings gold. On paper anyway. For a start although he is massively popular, not everyone is a Dan fan. Not to the spectacular extent of B&B owner Anne Sheerin who in the first programme of the series went into a complete tailspin when she saw her guests pull up outside her door.

"Oh God Almighty Daniel is here! He's here! Wow! Oh wow!" cried Anne alternating between sobs and giggles like a 14-year-old who'd just spotted Harry Styles in the local KFC.

Then there is the B&B aspect. A crucial cog in the hospitality industry this may be. But the B&B circuit is hardly going to make for five-star ogling.

It's not exactly Eamonn and Ruth on a private jet tasting the blingy high life on the international trail of oligarchs and the mega rich.

And yet, as has been widely reported, the O'Donnells and their boarding house travelogue has been a spectacular television success. It's even been sold to the US.

A triumph for all concerned.

And especially for Daniel O'Donnell. Fresh from his sort-of success on Strictly, Mr Homespun of Donegal is suddenly television's newest hot property.

So how to explain his enormous, enduring popularity?

As Strictly confirmed there is a certain wonky woodenness about the man; he talks like a preacher delivering a fond eulogy to the late departed. Yet you don't have to have bought all the albums to concede that he does also come across as a personable sort.

He is most likely not as "soft" as the twee delivery suggests. But he does seem very likeable.

Interestingly though the real star of the show - and to my mind the real reason why it's been so successful - is not the star himself.

The real star of the show is Majella, his wife. And to some extent the buzz (the chemistry, TV execs would call it) between the pair of them.

Where Daniel is more reticent, Majella is all enthusiasm. She's full of life, up for anything. And what makes this particularly touching is that Majella is a woman who knows just how precious life is.

A cancer survivor, she's fought a tough battle against that awful disease. In a recent interview she and Daniel both talked about how the fear is always there that it might return. But how they want to live their lives to the full.

In another interview Majella described how she'd initially gone on a health food kick.

It didn't last.

"I gave up coffee and tea, I went organic, I stopped drinking wine ... and I just thought, this is miserable, I can't live like this." She hasn't exactly gone wild since ditching the "miserable" stuff.

But as the show reveals she does know how to enjoy herself. She has an ease and a grace in front of the camera that seasoned presenters would envy.

The obvious warmth between the O'Donnells is endearing. She drives, he nags. They bicker, they banter. Above all they don't take themselves too seriously. When she tells him that there will be several other singers performing during an evening's entertainment in the latest B&B bar so the owners will probably not ask him to do much, he replies he'll be annoyed if they don't.

It is light-hearted stuff. Maybe a bit too lightweight for some critics. Daniel O'Donnell isn't fashionably edgy, offensive or obnoxious.

But amid television schedules that serve up so much bleakery and angst, you can see why he and his wife are so very popular.

Dan the Man may be the big draw that got this show commissioned in the first place. But it's taken two to make it work.

And Majella O'Donnell is one class act in her own right.

Pavement lanes the right road for all

In London there are calls for a fast lane to be introduced on crowded pavements to cater for those in a hurry being held back by dawdlers.

We need more lanes here, too.

We could be doing with a lane for baby buggy pushers. A lane for people who stop suddenly without warning to check the contents of their handbag.

We need a lane for texters who bump into all and sundry.

And, above all, a lane for spitters.

A lane well, well away from the rest of us.

US candidate with an Almighty ego

Now that’s endorsement. Pictures from inside the home of Ben Carson, a Republican presidential candidate in the US, show walls adorned with various photographs of the man himself with various celebs.

Most startling (although not a photograph obviously) is the one with Jesus. In the portrait, the Son of God is shown with his arm around Mr Carson. Eat your heart out, John Terry.

Self-doubt is apparently not an issue for those involved in the presidential race. Ben Carson poses with Jesus. Donald Trump thinks he’s God.

Belfast Telegraph

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