50 Ways To Kill Your Mammy
TV travel shows used to be a really simple affair. A perma tanned, white middle aged reporter would travel to an exotic location, show you the best hotels, beaches and restaurants, give you an idea of price and value for money whilst very rarely venturing away from the main tourist traps. This was a time when foreign travel was a luxury and few of us went further than the Costa Del Sol. Nowadays of course we are much better travelled as a nation, and most of us have photos of these exotic locales on our smartphones and videos of a loved one doing a bungee jump in some far off land. Because of this, TV travel shows have had to get a lot more inventive and the channel leading the way is SKY. Karl Pilkington has been An Idiot Abroad and presented The Moaning Of Life and now they have come up with the surprisingly entertaining 50 Ways To Kill Your Mammy.
Presented by Baz Ashmawy, an Irish TV and radio host, it involves him travelling the world with his 71 year old mother and getting her to attempt various stunts that could very well endanger her life. In the first episode they were in Las Vegas where they went on a raid with a SWAT team, drove a stunt car and did a ridiculously high sky dive, while in the second they travelled to Marrakech to try snake charming, exotic dancing and rally driving across the desert. Now, all of this sounds like a gimmick that really shouldn't work, and indeed if it was Baz on his own I could imagine the trip may be fairly insufferable (he seems like a Marmite presenter, who on his own may very well start to grate) but the inclusion of his mum, Nancy, is a stroke of genius.
Nancy is a typical 70 something mother who still sees her son as a little boy who needs looking after, and sees the whole venture as fairly ridiculous endeavour, but goes along with it because she seems to feel that left to his own devices her son may not come back alive. Whenever he is driving her anywhere she chastises him for driving too fast or not keeping his eyes on the road (sound familiar to everyone?) and always seems more concerned for his safety rather than her own. While some shows like this may seem rather too “scripted”, it’s obvious that Nancy hasn't seen a script, and even if there was one there’s no way anyone would be able to get her to stick to it. She is a real person, put in extraordinary situations, giving reactions that will ring true to anyone with a mother of a certain age.
To her credit she is game for anything. The sky dive terrifies Baz more than her, and when they touch down it’s him that’s in tears as he can’t quite believe he got her to do it. During the SWAT raid, she’s the one following the officers exact instructions and stopping her son from getting too close to the action, and during a balloon ride the fear her son hopes for never materialises as she is too busy flirting with the French instructor. In fact, the only time she gets close to not completing one of the tasks her son has arranged is when she is asked to taser him. Her safety doesn't really concern her but, as with any mother, the thought of hurting her son is the one thing she really fears.
In Nancy Ashmawy, TV has found a new star. A genuinely funny lady that it’s a pleasure to spend time with, and 50 Ways To Kill Your Mammy works as a travel show, a comedy show and a depiction of the love that exists between a mother and her son…even if that son is ever so slightly annoying and trying to endanger her life.