Sunday, 8 June 2008
And now for the Sport...
During the 70's, Des managed to juggle
his work as both sports presenter and
porn star quite respectably.
Imagine yourself in B&Q looking for paint. If you didn’t see the colour you wanted, you would go and see the man in the apron behind the paint desk. He would know more than is healthy on the subject, and you would leave satisfied with your choice of elaborately named colour. Suppose that the man behind the paint counter was not in fact a paint expert, but had been drafted in from the gardening section and couldn’t tell his Cumulo-Nimbus White from his Sratus grey. You would probably feel a little inconvenienced. Now suppose you learnt that potted plant man was not simply covering for his friend whilst he attended a paint-related emergency, but was a permanent fixture behind that counter and would not be replaced. In that instance, you may want to tell him where to stick his paintbrush and go to Homebase instead. I know I would.
This is exactly how I feel with BBC sport coverage. A perfect case in point occurred a couple of weeks ago, when BBC2’s live coverage of the PGA golf championship was anchored by none other than everyone’s favourite crisp-eating goal poacher, Gary Lineker. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Lineker, he is a fine presenter and professional to boot. MOTD is just not the same when he is absent, though admittedly that could have something to do with his stand-in Ray Stubbs, who would be more at home presenting the World Darts championship with a beer in his hand every week. But surely Lineker is the football guy right? Wrong. For some reason, the Beeb consider Leicester’s silver fox to have reached a plateau in his career, where he now transcends football and can be used generically. This as may be, but it did not stop my mother, with whom I watched the golf coverage, uttering his name most incredulously as the program was introduced. The Lineker rule also applies to Sue Barker, who has risen to a level that (thankfully for Sue) seeks to erase the memory of her many years spent in tennis-playing mediocrity.
The BBC has a particular penchant for these sport-hopping impostors, and some are frankly ridiculous. For instance, I laughed out loud when I saw a red-faced John Parrot jogging over Tower Bridge during the London Marathon, struggling to keep up with the man dressed as a giant vegetable that he was interviewing. I am dubious as to whether he has run 26 miles in his life, never mind an afternoon. Similarly incongruous is the sight of half the 1992 British Olympic team wandering around for the BBC with microphones at any given sporting event and interviewing anything that moves. What next, the woman from the racing show presenting Crufts? Oh no, wait…
Specialist, ex-professional sports star presenters are all very well and good, but they must be confined to their respective field of play. The problem is that the BBC lacks a pool of quality, multi purpose presenters. You could draft them in from other genres, but it wouldn’t work. Richard Hammond cannot present everything on television after all, and I wouldn’t trust Graham Norton anywhere near a program involving the word balls. Titchmarsh would make things difficult by turning the six yard line or fairway into a herbacious border, and Adrian Chiles is problematic too; not even the most serious and tactical sports are beyond his relentless, sarcastic dismantling.
Oh, how they miss Steve Ryder with his beautiful mane of greying blond and a manner slicker than James Bond, who can now be seen weekly on ITV delivering his smooth, calm and English-gentleman approach to the Formula 1 championship. I have fond memories of his days on Grandstand, holding links together like the exquisitely groomed glue that he is. It is no wonder Grandstand was canned not long after his desertion to ‘the other side’.
My suggestion is for the BBC to run a major reality show in a similar style to ‘I’d Do anything’, dedicated to finding the next great sports presenter. It would be named after and adjudicated by the godfather of British sporting broadcast himself, with Des taking Lloyd Webber’s seat as the Beeb take contestants and begin to ‘Lynam Up’. You saw it here first…….