Posts Tagged ‘bbc’
A few weeks ago I reported that this blog had been laid siege to by a deviant of the worst order. Some diabolical pest has typed in “Hazel Irvine tits” into a search engine, one would have to presume to ogle at images of the diminutive Scottish sportscaster’s breasts.
I am sad to relay that affairs have darkened since. The fiend has visited again, three times. Firstly he or she landed following the query “Hazel Irvine sex tits”. I may be naive but I don’t know what a “sex tit” is. I’m pretty sure it’s bad though. And again today, two more hits: “snooker Hazel Irvine sex tits” and “snooker Hazel Irvine sex titss” reveals some sickening fetish for Hazel Irvine in sexy bar game situations. As well as negligent spelling.
I urge this person to reveal themselves, figuratively speaking obviously, and perhaps some kind of support can be sought. There are people who can treat you, injections they can give you. I know a good surgeon if necessary.
I’ve just been watching a compilation of highlights from the 1997-98 Premier League season set to “A Whole New World“, a cloying piece of music composed for the Disney film Aladdin. There are tears in my eyes. That is the immense emotional punch of the musical montage. Separately the footage and the song don’t have the capacity to stir, but together they form a powerful cocktail that reacts with that section of the brain controlling blubbing and throat-lumps.
The most seminal work in the field has been created by the BBC. Musical montages form part of their public service remit. I hope that in the seconds before I die, when my life streams before my eyes, it’s edited into a BBC musical montage. I have spent Olympic Games and Wimbledons waiting impatiently for the events to finish before enjoying the concluding montage. The segment following the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona was so moving it was conceivable that R.E.M. had written “Everybody Hurts” specifically as an elegy for Derek Redmond‘s snapped hamstring.
Montages can be potently funny too. Consider the collection of clips broadcast at the end of the World Snooker Championship, mainly of “ball-hitting-another-ball-and-going-into-a-pocket-it-wasn’t-intended-for” scenarios, perhaps the most unhilarious happening in sport. But place a Scott Joplin ragtime classic over the action and you’ve collapsed to your knees, crumbling in laughter, pointing at the screen screaming “OMG, did you see that ball fall into a pocket it wasn’t supposed to?”.
The phenomenon extends to other non-sport television. I managed to avoid the last series of the Channel 4 Big Brother series until its final episode, during which a montage was aired. It largely consisted of people that I didn’t know and didn’t care about walking up the steps to leave the house in slow motion. Temper Trap‘s “Sweet Disposition” played. Chills coursed up my spine. With this faculty for making even the worst in society seem sympathetic, advertisers should rethink party political broadcasts and simply show clips of David Cameron or Ed Miliband chatting to kittens or making daisy-chains set to Coldplay or Elbow or other mawkish music.
Snazzy despot Colonel Gadaffi recognised the potential of the musical montage, using one to impress his paramour US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice. He cut photos together with a specially commissioned song called “Black Flower in the White House”. Rice described it as “strange and creepy”. Perhaps that was more of an ITV one.
“Obviously my mission is incomplete – my goal is not realised.”
Thus spoke Audley ‘A-Force’ Harrison after a dispiriting defeat to David Haye during which he was hardly able to raise a hand to high-five his conqueror. We assumed that he was referring the continuation of a feted boxing career, the highlight of which was a series of titanic and ultimately unsuccessful bouts against a paper bag.
It seems now however that Harrison, known for his trademark ‘sting like a butterfly’ approach to the noble art, was discussing a future trade in showbusiness. Harrison has agreed to appear in the latest version of Strictly Come Dancing, making the mystifying decision to pass up an opportunity to play the Cowardly Lion in the West End staging of The Wizard of Oz, a role he was surely born to play.
His new venture has been greeted with apprehension by some BBC elders, aware that his previous involvement with the station brought about the total abandonment of its boxing output, the only occasion Harrison has been able to demolish anything. Throughout the series Harrison will go toe-to-toe with camp Italian judge Bruno Tonioli. And go down in three rounds.
During the promotional shoot for the show, Harrison was asked by the photographer to look “angry, really angry, like I’ve just called your mum a dickhead or something”. He was also instructed to ball his fist and make it look threatening, “like the furious hammer of Thor himself.” This is the result:
International athletics began to pall some time in the middle 90s. Some commentators blame the pandemic steroid abuse. The drug testers unmasked more junkies in the sport than in a heroin high-rise and public confidence was corroded. But I blame ITV and the decision to strip its Friday night schedule of the Golden 4, a glittering quartet of continental meets in which competitors raced, leapt and hurled for actual bullion. All of which exhilarating action was presided over by Jim Rosenthal, nearly always from under a golf umbrella it seemed.
Athletics absorbed the grave privation that the loss of Rosenthal represented, and has more recently snuggled down in the cosier surroundings of the BBC on the sofa next to Countryfile and Eggheads. Hosted by the sportscasting equivalent of soft furnishings, humans in knit form. Sue Barker. Sally Gunnell. Jonathon Edwards. The type of folk who could be spotted enthusiastically manning a tombola at the local church fete.
But things are changing. Athletics has now migrated to Channel 4, the cradle of ‘yoof’ television, and is shedding the fleece cocoon like a very cool teenage butterfly. The World Athletics Championships being presented to appeal to the textspeak demographic, tessellating sweetly with the stratagem pursued by the London 2012 organising committee who have littered the inner cities with nu-rave outdoor gymnasia and unveiled a logo that looks like it has been sprayed onto some railway sidings.
Channel 4 have played safe by recruiting some robust pillars of the BBC athletics community: John Rawling, Dave Moorcroft, the lugubrious Michael Johnson, and sprinkled it with fresher, less lucid sorts like Iwan Thomas (peroxide – yeah!) and Dean Macey, whose childlike mania for proceedings make it sound more like We Are The Champions than top-level sport. And then there’s Ortis. Ortis Deley is younger and blacker than Sue Barker, and anchors with the conviction of a man who didn’t know that athletics existed before last week. Ortis is umbilically attached to the clipboard in his lap, the crib sheet on which probably shows a hastily-etched picture of a hurdle with an arrow that says ‘this is a hurdle’. Ortis is a wandering refugee from Saturday morning children’s television (seriously, what happened to Saturday kids’ programming – do young people really prefer Rick Stein and his dover sole recipes?)
The commentary team is always keen to name-check the potential audience of ‘kids’, particularly during the possibly inspirational yet unsuccessful run of Mo Farah to 10,000m gold. Although I’m dubious as to why any child would aspire to screaming desperately as if being chased rapidly down by a peckish velociraptor.
The IAAF have also waded in on the initiative by introducing a vicious false start ruling that could have been dreamt up by a diabolic reality televsion producer. The one strike regulation has done for Christine Ohuruogu, Dwain Chambers and the posturing Usain Bolt, who was then compelled to go and posture next to a curtain.
All this ‘faster, stronger, higher, bling blinger’ is great, but of course Channel 4 is only borrowing championship athletics from BBC, who retain the Olympic rights for 2012. Expect to see Steve Cram in a backwards baseball cap somewhere in East London next August.
I knew a girl who attended Brunel University while Audley Harrison was studying sports science there. She was able to vouch that he was a polite and popular member of the faculty, a notably passive type given the violent nature of his chosen hobby. Which means that all the recent verbal trash that Harrison has been flinging at David Haye rings a little false. A bit like if Gloria Hunniford offered Anne Diamond outside to the BBC Television Centre car park for a daytime televison version of the ‘Rumble in the Jungle‘.
I followed Harrison’s early professional career keenly for no other slightly juvenile reason than we shared a surname. I watched as developed an unusually tender boxing style, preferring to caress and fondle his opponents rather than actually hitting them. And as he got regularly duffed up by taxi drivers, schoolgirls and paper bags. Like most viewers I got bored. The only thing Harrison had succeeded in knocking out was BBC coverage of professional boxing. He actually killed it.
But now he has a shot at the world title, an opportunity which seems to jar more than one of his punches, particularly if compare Saturdays bout to some of the previous tussles in the rich history of the division.
There was a golden time when the BBC would repeat a contracted version of Match of the Day early on a Sunday morning, an edition trimmed of the flabby unpalatable bits where old footballers sit on a sofa and indulge in a guff-filled symposium of the day’s football. I’m not entirely sure why this editorial choice was made. Possibly the entire morning’s schedule was squeezed by the irritatingly bloated musings of David Frost on his magazine show, he was a man who used to take ten minutes just to say hello. Or perhaps Match of the Day in its swollen format contravened some aged tradition that frowned upon the ingestion of industrial-strength punditry on the Sabbath. Or maybe it was deemed that nobody should have to tolerate Mark Lawrenson before the sun had kissed the yardarm.
Match of the Day has received an cruel and unusual quantity of criticism recently. It’s as if football fans have grown tired of continually reprehending those who play it and have turned on those who talk about it. Given this degradation of the public affection for the show, it may be time for the producers to revisit the abridged format not only on a Sunday, but also the night before. They could donate the cash they save on salaries to Pudsey or something.
So the World Cup is showing signs of kicking off its comfy slippers of mediocrity and providing the gawping masses with some actual football. Now the responsibility is on the attendant pundits and commentators to raise their games and shake off their collective torpor.
The worst culprit is Alan Hansen, who has been revelling in his ignorance of the participating squads like a recalcitrant schoolboy in double chemistry. Slipping negligently down his chair, you suspect that his slovenly aspect is borne of latent Scotch vexation, being the lone soldier of the Tartan Army stationed in South Africa this summer.
Hansen only appears energised in the presence of Clarence Seedorf, constantly pawing at him and bringing him into the fold of conversation. In fact, everyone likes to touch Clarence. He is a beatific presence to be fair, beaming through every comment. He could be employed to inform people they are terminally ill. One flash of the Seedorf grin, and we can forget all this unpleasantness and go for a coffee.
Mick McCarthy is the anti-Seedorf, seeding his comments with the sort of bluff Northern depression that makes you think every sentence he utters is going to be capped off with long dolorous ‘oh bugger’. One wonders what happened when Seedorf and McCarthy met at the BBC pre-World Cup disco, just sizing each other up like two entirely distinct species.
Over on ITV, it’s the usual parade of platitudes, some of which are served up by Gareth Southgate. It’s hardly any surprise that Middlesbrough were relegated with teamtalks delivered by Southgate. When Iain Dowie complained of the Ipod culture among modern footballers, he should have pointed the finger at Southgate, whose monotone delivery compels the listener to jam anything in their ears. Southgate is the man at the party that you excuse yourself from to go and a pay a visit to the dips table. In fact, they only invented hummus as a means of escape from the Southgate conversation.
The biggest news in the build-up to the 1990 World Cup was the installation of a second television in my house up in my parent’s bedroom. It was miniscule in comparison to the vast one downstairs, which must have been at least 18 inches in width. We invited the neighbours over to celebrate the switching on of the new set as we perched on the end of the bed to squint at the opening game between the champions Argentina and Cameroon, the most memorable moment of which was a concerted and vicious attack on Claudio Caniggia, the violence of which still contaminates my nightmares:
The Argentinians muscled their way into the knockout stages despite their African tribulations with a victory over the Soviet Union, who were a limp spectre of the side that had helped knock out England of the group stages of last European Championships.
The English and the other two members of that Euro ’88 group, Ireland and the Netherlands, were re-united out in the Mediterranean. England had lost to both in 1988, including defeat to the Irish on the same afternoon as my sister fell out of a tree. That was a bad day.
I remember that the chat was that England and their belligerent fans had been expelled out to Sardinia as if it was footballing penal colony. I was irrationally terrified of hooligans, like monsters in the cupboard. It wasn’t as if they were bashing down the front door to come in and throw the dining room chairs about. In order not to agitate the hooligan faction it seemed that the four teams of the group had agreed to play out insipid stalemates, England progressing as winners by default when they accidently beat Egypt.
Elsewhere Scotland yet again flirted coquettishly with the knockout phase before rejecting the opportunity to advance, performing their regular party piece of slipping on a banana skin, this time Costa Rica. It never fails to entertain, even on a tiny television.
David Platt sent me out of the French windows and skidding onto the lawn when he volleyed England past the Belgians in the second round. I spent a lot of the England games out on that lawn, not having the emotional faculties to cope with the tension, particularly in the quarter-final against Cameroon. In fact I can’t remember any of that game, just the half-time assessment by Jimmy Hill who maniacally repeated ‘shut up shop’ as England were ahead, his grotesque chin oscillating wildly like a terrifying ventriloquist’s dummy. And ventriloquist’s dummies are terrifying at the best of times.
I didn’t see much of the semi-final against the West Germans. I was continuing my vigil on the lawn. I covered every blade of grass that night, collecting myself to watch us blow it in the shoot-out. After which I went back through the French windows this time to sink my knees into the turf and cry.
Most of the more colourful memories of that World Cup are of the squalor: the defensive tactics, Frank Rijkaard’s flob clutching to Rudi Voller’s perm, and the Argentinians skipping and barging bizarrely into the referee during the latter minutes of the final.
There is one aspect of the tournament that will never be bettered in terms of artistic integrity though. The accompanying graphics supplied by the Italians were all cascading full-stops and sliding text. It was beautiful. Home broadcast graphics seem to have been dispensed in favour of more homogenised BBC and ITV versions since. It’s a crying shame.
I think Paul Collingwood had a point last night in crying mathematical rape, having just been shafted by Duckworth while Lewis watched. But now Frank Duckworth wants his tell his side of the story. There are several noteworthy things about this:
1. Firstly Duckworth and Lewis look quite nice. And not the evil geniuses that I thought they were. I’m sure I once saw Duckworth talking enthusiatically about Norman churches on Open University during one of my bouts of insomnia. Lewis looks like a kindly deputy headmaster.
2. Tony Lewis is not the Tony Lewis that used to present BBC cricket. You know, the jolly slightly bumbling one with a ruddy face and a funny Welsh way of saying words like ‘sitooation’ and ‘ackurate’. It’s not him. I don’t think he’s got the requisite mental faculties. I once saw Tony Lewis naked in a changing room at a golf club near Swansea. The BBC one, not the maths one. I wouldn’t have known what the maths Tony Lewis looked like, clothes or otherwise.
3. Frank Duckworth (‘Vera’ to his mates) has the gulpy indignant tone of man who writes a lot of letters to his council and says ‘it beggars belief’ every time he opens his mouth.
4. Rain is nice.
Gary Lineker has previously tasted the bitter ignominy of being substituted for a seemingly inferior replacement having been yanked off during his final England appearance for Alan Smith. And while Hazel Irvine is a sort of broadcasting version of Smudger, reliable if unspectacular, the howls of complaint for her promotion over Lineker for the BBC Masters coverage were far less raucous than those in Stockholm.
Not only because Lineker delivered his lines with the fretful confusion of man reading the text of a long-dead language, but also because Irvine is nice and safe, even out of her comfort zone of a lilac Berghaus, with that Scotch dependability reminiscent of Dougie Donnelly is his World Bowls pomp.
I had braced myself for a Gary-less Masters, having spotted him from my desert hotel helming Manchester United vs Bayern Munich for a Middle Eastern sports network, roaming in the wilderness like a jug-eared Jesus. It was a faintly discombobulating Frankenstein’s monster of a broadcast, as Lineker was plonked in a fair representation of the chrome Sky Champions League studio alongside Sky stalwarts Graeme Souness and Ruud Gullit and new ITV buck Teddy Sheringham.
Lineker was clearly more at ease even in these alien surroundings than at the Butler Cabin. Even if he did keep slipping over the words “we’ll be back after the break”.