::: FistedAway welcomes a guest post from Michael,
who has an ace surname and runs the splendid Regista :::
Euro-time is almost upon us. And yet, most of our attention is wrongly focused on the national teams competing at the finals, when we should be weighing up the merits of the real heroes – the broadcasters. Let’s see how the two heavyweights line up.
The BBC has responded to these austere times by cancelling their trip to Poland. These are public sector workers, and it just wouldn’t do to have them all getting on the vods at our expense, but the decision didn’t go down well with some of their pundits. When executives told the team they would be watching the coverage from a studio in Salford, Lee Dixon was distraught, and started frantically searching the Ryanair website for cheap flights. However, his euphoria at finding affordable fares to Krakow was short lived when Hansen, sombre as ever, pointed out that he had failed to include airport tax, baggage allowance and booking fees in his calculation. At this point Dixon burst into a flood of tears.
At the other end of the scale, ITV are taking their wads of advertising cash and heading out to a specially constructed studio in Warsaw. It’ll be worth it, as being on location will provide Adrian Chiles – the anchor man-of-the-people – with ample opportunity to film a well observed light-hearted pastiche of Polish and Ukraine culture. It’ll be Chiles staggering around Warsaw, shitfaced on vodka, waving a bit of sausage in the air and mumbling about revolution as the locals look aghast.
ITV are going for direct confrontation in the studio. They’ve taken the controversial decision to re-unit Patrick Viera and Roy Keane after their infamous ‘bust-up’ in the tunnel (flashback: Roy shouted at Patrick in a threatening manner, Patrick looked a bit awkward
). Will they get on, or will they end up having a carefully engineered disagreement? Ooh, let’s hope it’s the latter – a stage managed Keano and Viera live TV row, just the thought of it’s enough to get you stamping your feet on the floor with nervous energy.
They’ll be joined by professional scouser, Jamie Carragher; object of a thousand bloggers’ desire, Roberto Martinez; and their regular crew, Gareth Southgate and Andy ‘I’d better remember I used to play for Ireland’ Townsend. Oh, and Gordon Strachan – not sure if anyone still finds him interesting? No, didn’t think so.
The BBC know you can’t win the league with a team of Englishmen, so move over Alan Shearer and Lee Dixon, here comes modest German, Jurgen Klinsmann. If Klinsmann ever watched the Sue Barker on Wimbledon, he’ll know what to expect, ‘John, how do you rate Tim’s chances – is this his year?’ [looks pleadingly at McEnroe] ‘Sure, whatever you say.’ Off camera, Jurgen and fellow foreigner Clarence Seedorf will be hi-fiving and rolling about on the floor as England concede their fifth against Ukraine. Seedorf will struggle to say anything of note, as he has limited professional achievements to draw on. But, he will fulfil one of his life ambitions: to work with Robbie Savage.
Commentators are a notoriously thin-skinned and highly strung bunch, the artists of sports broadcasting.
But, the BBC’s producers are hoping the volatile talents of Guy Mowbray and Steve Wilson can keep their competitive edge focused on the job. It was a well kept secret, but John Motson and Barry Davies regularly came to blows during major tournaments as the pressure increased. Wilson and Mowbray’s rivalry is considered to be even more intense, than that of Motson and Davies (the Senna & Prost of football commentary). Jonathan Pearce is often used as a reluctant liaison, asked to deliver messages between the two, but he can only communicate through shouting and, if truth be told, has probably done their relationship more harm than good.
Can Mowbray and Wilson overcome their rivalry and work together? They’ll need to if they want to defeat the crown jewel of ITV. Peter Drury is an able deputy, but when it comes to the big occasion, there is only one hero of hyperbole – the man known simply as: Tyldesley, or Tyldes, or Clive, to his friends and family, or ‘the man who induces violent fantasies involving the destruction of your TV’ – any of the above.
As for the lovely assistants, Jim Beglin endures on ITV despite no one knowing who he is. And the BBC’s Mark Lawrenson will be there with his inimitable comedy genius, offering up such gems as: ‘tell you what, I don’t know about fruit corners, but Müller wasn’t far away from the top corner there, eh?’.
Then there’s Mr Dependable, Mark Bright. Seen as a safe pair of hands, Bright understands the art of co-commentary better than any of his peers, and has actually written a thesis on the subject, the conclusions of which are summarised thus:
As the viewers are shown a replay, describe the images on screen with incongruous enthusiasm. And always assume the viewer is blind.
So, there we have it. Two very strong line ups, both possessing potential match winners. The broadcasters are ready to sweat international quality cliché for you, so let’s get behind the lads, and may the best team win.