Archive for August 2011
I wrote a piece on Monday which contained some denigrating comments about Ortis Deley, the anchorman for Channel 4’s coverage of the World Athletics Championships. Yesterday there was no Ortis, relieved of his responsibilities. Today there was no athletics at all, although the internet says that it is a scheduled rest day.
In my own very optimistic understanding of cause and effect, my post effected the removal of the stricken presenter. An example of how public protest can peacefully bring about regime change.
With this in mind, my friend Wutton has uncovered another crime against humanity: Match of the Day 3. If watching this oddly smug shambles of a programme isn’t persuasive enough then read this article from the Surreal Football website, a far more coruscating polemic than I could manage.
Colin Murray, your day is numbered.
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’m not massively comfortable with the use of superlatives. They’re a bit flash and unnecessary, like diamond dental crowns. It does tend to dilute the vocabulary when describing England this summer though, hence why I’ve been less than prolific recently. But now England are officially
the best very good, and deserved holders of the Giant Shiny Chupa-Chup, I should pass some form of comment.
Watching the highlights today, I spied something in one fleeting frame of action. Chris Schofield had appeared on the pitch. A gormless ghostly figure from the past, from a much shitter era of English cricket. Normally the management let enthusiastic spaniel pups come bounding onto the field when a substitute is required, like that boy from One Direction who was pressed into service at the weekend.
Perhaps Schofield was introduced as a reminder of what once was. A gawky chinless reminiscence of where it all began, being one of the first signatories on a ECB central contract. So here’s to you Schoey, they couldn’t have done it without you.
I have been invited to audition for a performing role in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games. I am delighted to be considered, if vaguely confused. I haven’t technically “performed” in front of an audience since the age of nine. Perhaps director Danny Boyle is aware of my work in that period, which comprised two seminal turns in the local village college‘s “Day of Dance”, a Terpsichorean jamboree of all children from neighbouring primary schools.
Firstly, a jaunty and enthusiastic interpretation of a gypsy fiddler, undermined only by my colleague David‘s decision to take to the stage wearing socks and thus spent most of the show on his bum, like a slightly disabled gypsy fiddler. I followed this up the next year with an impressively haunting representation of a moon-dwelling extra-terrestrial, transforming myself with a pair of thick brown tights over my head and a brown woollen jumper. It was a portrayal so terrifyingly spot on I nearly got the gig bursting out of John Hurt‘s chest in Ridley Scott‘s Alien.
Given this previous exhibitionism, Boyle has clearly assumed that I won’t balk at the opportunity to slip into a turquoise leotard and pretend to be the River Thames through the medium of prancing about a bit.
Or I’m just on a mailing list having previously expressed my interest at volunteering at the Games. Either way I’ve applied. You should too, just click here.
I was invited to write a piece on my favourite cricketer for World Cricket Watch and Balanced Sports websites. Other bloggers have also contributed to this series, using it as an opportunity to lyricize about iconic and celebrated figures of the game. I wrote about Ed Giddins. He took drugs and was a bit crap. Seminally crap as it turns out.