First up was Stan Sloane, "a horse-loving young lad from Cornwall" who performed as Mark Owen from Take That. I wasn't actually in much of a position to comment on the accuracy of his rendition, but I can report that his post-performance interview was an uncanny representation of the young Princess Diana, complete with shy sideways glances from beneath the fringe. Come to think of it, doesn't "Stan Sloane" give off a hollow sound? Most of the performers rely heavily on trademark props for their transformation from hopeful nonentity into global star, first standing before you as a pipe-fitter from Dagenham then returning through dry-ice and fanfares as a pipe-fitter from Dagenham with Bono's hat and shades. Others are accurate enough in their emulations of "inimitable" talent to make you sense the peculiar tragedy of discovering that someone else got to be Michael Stipe or Randy Crawford before they did. They lack nothing but the original's ability to behave uncharacteristically, that paradoxical stamp of personal authenticity.
Bobby Darin won, after a suavely casual performance of "Mack the Knife". The effect was slightly marred by his encore, in which every spontaneous flick of the hands and every caper of the voice was exactly replicated. If a pianola could wear a sharkskin suit it might deliver something like this - note perfect and immoveable - incapable of responding to the moment.
It was a weekend of finals, of course, including a fine end to the women's singles competition. I enjoyed Virginia Wade's commentary too: "Antonia making Steffi look like a bird with clipped wings," she observed plaintively at one point, which, coming from one of the flightless birds of English tennis, was a bit rich. Having once thrashed and flapped her way to the roof of the hen-coop (in a final which reduced most patriotic British viewers to a state of nervous prostration), she was giving soaring lessons to eagles. I write before Sunday afternoon's show-down between Technology and Teutonic Will, so can't comment on that, but watching Stars in Their Eyes it occurred that there might be other ways to restore some of the old elegance to the game. Perhaps Des Lynam should move over for Matthew Kelly: "Boris Becker there, about to disappear into the mists of the magical doors before his amazing transformation as... Evonne Goolagong!"
If Wimbledon was filmed in the style of Masterchef (BBC1), which also reached its competitive climax this week, you wouldn't actually see any tennis - just a tasteful montage of groundshots, scuffing tennis shoes and ball-boys' hands. Instead of the game, you would get Loyd Grossman doing his notoriously over-the-top impersonation of Loyd Grossman: "Seau, what are you going to astor-nish us with today?" he'd ask a nervous player, before inviting some Bjorn Borg to rattle their nerves with some sharp questions. In the real Masterchef, this part was played by Raymond Blanc, probably the best cook in the country, steadying the competitors' nerves with his Gallic bluntness - "I 'ope it will taste better than it sounds," he said as one trembling cook gave him the recipe for colcannon. "You are very brave," he said guardedly to another, after she explained how she planned to stuff a fillet of lamb with black pudding. She was, and she won.Reuse content