The style of social behaviour is at the heart of Oscar Wilde's popular humorous farce 'The Importance of Being Earnest'.

An English literature class for Leaving Certificate students on 'The Importance of Being Earnest', a play by Oscar Wilde

In matters of grave importance, style not sincerity is the vital thing.

These words contain the key to the tone and nature of both Oscar Wilde and what James O’Malley believes is the writer's best play 'The Importance of Being Ernest’.

He describes Oscar Wilde as intellectually "over mature" and emotionally "immature".

Many felt he was far too brilliant by half.

This maturity and immaturity explain why a lot of his characters are witty and intelligent but seem to talk in epigrams. He describes epigrams as artificial, a characteristic which Oscar Wilde’s characters share. James O’Malley sees these characters as two dimensional lacking any sort of emotional life. In writing the characters in this manner, Oscar Wilde is trying to demonstrate his belief that style counts over sincerity.

Wilde omits emotion partly because he’s afraid of it, partly because he can’t cope with it.

James O’Malley says 'The Importance of Being Earnest' is as funny and relevant today as it was when it was written in 1895.

He found it very entertaining to dismiss as of no importance whatsoever things that others took very seriously.

This sentiment is demonstrating in the opening scenes of the play in a conversation about cucumber sandwiches.

‘Telefís Scoile’ broadcast on 4 May 1973. The presenter is James O’Malley.

'Telefís Scoile' was an educational television programme that gave school lessons in maths, science and literature. It was first broadcast on 4 February 1964 and continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s.