I an consumed by a sense of relief. It was a tournament that didn’t engage me too much. The football was patchy. The highlights were limited to Rooney’s snarl to camera and the 3rd place play off. As the show-reel of the World Cup’s Top Goals reeled I realized I recognized a lot of them, but had been so fatigued by the games they graced that seeing them in isolation like this was probably the only way I could begin to look at them fairly.
The TV coverage sucked. South Africa’s beauty and mysteries remain unrevealed to me. Maybe South Africa has no such charms. I had a bit of a BBC childhood so perhaps the burden of expectation was all in my own mind and in reality, things have moved on. They can’t actually be arsed to make good programs any more.
I felt short changed as I guess I had imagined that at least the BBC would at least try and whack a few gratuitous shots of elephants and tigers into my footballing viewing.
What I got was that self publicist midget off the BBC Breakfast News – the one that was on Celebrity X Factor Come Dancing For The Cure Stars On Ice or whatever it was. Every morning we had this cherubic cheeked chump propped up in front of a barren hillside in his nondescript fleece. Trying to conduct contrived after contrived ‘chat’ with typical examples of local South Africans who all just happened to be having a quick blast of mindless pogo dancing before breakfast, presumably before being cattle prodded back to their corrugated slums.
I have an image in my mind akin to that scene in Escape To Victory when the Eastern European players arrive. So starved they can barely raise their spoons to eat. The BBC Breakfast remake is as follows. Our hero Chris Hollins arrives to inspect the nissen hut of hand selected ‘local colour’. He is not smiling. He is scowling and close to erupting. He takes a man wearing an air pilot type headset and a clip board (his producer) forcibly by the elbow and both men move out of the hut.
‘What the **** do you call that little lot? Are you deliberately trying to **** this up or are you just some sort of a ****?’ The producer is shocked, silent. ‘Where did you get this little ***king lot from, the executive lounge at American Airways? Are you taking the ****? A sea of ***king half educated punters, many of which reading newspapers, a couple with Nintendo’s and I’m pretty certain I saw one guy emailing on his ****ing Blackberry. I don’t suppose in your rush to **** my career you happened to notice that they are all wearing shoes? Jesus ****ing wept’.
So your average South African is a skint moron in charity shop clothes dancing up and down like a they’ve swallowed an never ending ecstasy pill then? How more patronizing could their coverage been?
By night, the Beeb became a more sinister haunt of or homage to (I’m still not sure which) ‘men of a certain age’. Lineker led the line. Weeks, months in the gym and a bottomless pit of Christian Dior fitted shirts, despite his novelty ears and a wafer thin chumminess he had mastered a manly stare when required and successfully completed an upgrade on the wife front. All predator.
Alan Shearer began every sentence, ‘For me…’ as if it somehow would indemnify him against the mind blowing dullness of whatever it was he saying. Alan Hansen desperately tried to stick to his guns. He rarely allowed himself to be strayed from his classic shtick, ‘that was just shocking.’ I’d keep an eye out for his debut on Loose Women.
But the Showbiz Fairy had got to him too. As the tournament progressed he sounded more and more like a Scottish Lloyd Grossman. And what in the name of God is going on with his eyebrows? They’ve been replaced by two Charlie Chaplin moustaches.
ITV then. Adrian Chiles is a man reborn since his defection to The Dark Side. Unfortunately, he’s been reborn as a cameo of a 70 year old woman from Coronation Street. Every comment and phrase was liberally doused in Olde Worlde Northen mysticism. ‘You could have cycled home, fed the pigeons and had your father’s belt on the kitchen table ready for him to thrash you with in the time it took that linesman to call that offside.’
ITV were clearly aware of the pally, boys club feel of Lineker & Co. So Chiles was in theory, a good alternative. What we actually got from the commercial boys though was a cornucopia of unintentional comedy.
Robbie Earl had barley had a chance to show us how how bad a pundit he was when it was revealed he was an even worse ticket tout. He disappeared from our screens faster than Harry Tuttle in Brazil.
Gareth Southgate was priceless. In his mind, this was the brass ring. This was him officially back in business. His brochure was now available in full colour, beamed into every football club chairman’s home in the western hemisphere.
Gareth’s road to Redemption was actually diverted to Perdition. The hair became more Partridge than I can ever recall and rarely outside of old episodes of The Sweeney have I ever seen a man on television with so few buttons done up on his shirt. Of the Final itself, he saved his best. ‘I’ve just written down the word, ‘Dissappointing’ on a piece of paper.’
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