TV WATCH THIS MONTH’S SCREEN REVIEW
Humanity, we have learned, does not evolve in a synchronised manner across all areas. Consider that we can now buy cruelty-free shower gel and yet millions of people listen to orchestral rock. Punditry has changed slowly over the years – becoming less administrative and more th-hole in tone – but halfway through the season’s first Match of the Day (BBC , August ) it became clear we were witnessing a fantastic bloom of creativity in a previously reactive occupation. During the post-match analysis of Tottenham v Southampton, Alan Shearer, in his loyal family gardener elocution, was plodding us through the frailties of Southampton’s defence, when, all of a sudden, he evolved. Circling the defender out of position, Shearer said: “He’s got to come on over.” A second voice, Ian Wright’s, was heard to say “Who?”, to which Shearer replied, “Valery”. Just in case you had missed the reference to Amy Winehouse’s recording, the triumphant expressions on both men’s faces on the return to the studio shot was enough to tell you that something very exciting had just happened.
One imagines that Charles Darwin felt something similar to that evening’s viewers when he came upon the remains of a mylodon. Shearer’s and Wright’s vignette is perhaps a crude creation, but, like Charlie Chaplin’s first film of a man running repeatedly into a stud wall until he maims himself, it is a distinct beginning. Innovation, though, can be frightening. If this kind of unsupervised self-realisation is allowed to go unchecked, we will soon be watching even more complex material between games.
Ashley Williams (sings): “This is my moment, I’m stealing this scene! I’m gonna be standing there pitchside one day with Pougatch and Keane!” Jamie Carragher (in big fedora and shades; lots of cigar business): “Whoa! Not so fast there, laddie; how about you show us your medals first?”
At the risk of catastrophising, this could be the road we are heading down.
The Women’s Euros was the type of success that organisers dream of. Skilful football played with the minimum of dissent, chicanery or interruption and won by the host nation with a goal worthy of a much less successful tournament. The presentation was led by Gabby Logan, who brings humour, gravitas and articulacy to the occasion without accentuating any of these qualities into an obtrusive brand,
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while the main punditry team of Alex Scott, Ian Wright and Jonas Eidevall were winningly diverse in manner and temperament, carefully selected to represent clearly defined stages on the introversionextroversion spectrum. Eidevall, in particular, was a mesmerisingly still presence, exuding the focus involved in the anachronistic folly of knitting a matinee jacket.
The tournament’s coverage, however, suffered from the continued banality of the line of questioning used on players, managers and the public. When is a question not a question, one might ask. Almost every interview began with a closed, rhetorical question, chosen from an inexhaustible Carousel of the Unenlightening: “How amazing is this?”, “How special is this?”, “How proud were you?”, or the more tactically facing “How important is it to get off to a good start?”. As a rule of thumb, if per cent of your questions can be answered with “Massive”, you are asking the wrong questions. The same interrogative style turned up on every Good Morning Britain and BBC Breakfast dialogue with inspired children on training pitches around the country, although BBC Breakfast made things more interesting on the morning after England’s semi-final by asking a Leeds summer school coach about the implications of the team’s success for girls’ football in front of an unbroken stream of boys stepping up for shooting practice. “I suppose this is… what it’s all about,” piped our roving reporter, gesturing limply at the all-male queue as his frame spasmed with self-recrimination.
Women’s Euro : The Celebration (BBC , August ) was a staged half-hour that had the atmosphere of a friendship
NUMBERS GAME The figures behind the facts
7 7.4 millio
The number of consecutive away defeats for Manchester United,
their worst run since
The TV audience for the Euro final, making it the most watched event in the UK this year
Percentage of Barca Studios sold by Barcelona, raising funds to satisfy La Liga that they could afford their signings
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