TELEVISION / Filthy Rich (C4) A portrait of Eric Hall, hated football agent, which steadfastly refused to give his game away.

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The Independent Culture
What's the difference between a footballer and his agent? One gives 110 per cent. The other takes 10 per cent. At a time when the English game is widely thought to be losing touch with reality, we can give thanks for one thing. At least Alan Shearer's agent is not Eric Hall. If he had been, Hall's fourth place in a recent Most Hated Man in Britain poll would have seemed a very modest gauge of the esteem in which he is held.

Hall could never be Shearer's agent because his schtick is comprehensible to Londoners only. All his best-known clients are from dahn sahf, the raffish ones as frequently sighted on the front pages of the half-pint papers as the back. Because the biggest deals are being cut for northerners and foreigners, Hall's visibility is out of all proportion to his clout.

Not that you were told any of this in Part 1 of Filthy Rich, a series aiming to get inside the heads of the eponymous Croesi. Coming from a profession that requires cards to be kept close to chests, information to be traded via nudges, winks, hedges and bluffs, of course Hall wasn't giving anything away, and the programme seemed happy to collude in the secretiveness with which he shrouds life and work. Whenever he was asked for specifics of his business dealings, he'd clam up, citing the fact that he hasn't got a licence. Though we were never told why.

Someone from the articulate wing of the Chelsea fanclub argued persuasively that Hall operates from behind the smoke-screen of a Jewish caricature. His mother, the loudly spangled Eva, unsurprisingly claimed he'd always been a quiet boy. So while he may seem a breed apart - an agent so flamboyant that the world has actually heard of him - he's not so dissimilar from his clients, fellow troughers pigging all the way to the bank. The cliches are more florid and unorthodox, but in the end they amount to the same thing: conversational evasions, obstacles to enlightenment. In Hall's lexicon, the words "monster monster" have the same redundancy as "we'll take each game as it comes".

To this tactic, he adds the less conventional one of mashing his words together in a patois of impedimented sibillants and glottal stops. Even if he had said something revealing, you probably wouldn't have understood it anyway. So you waited in vain for a question to navigate a passage into Hall's psyche. In the end, you had to grope through coded signifiers towards your own conclusions. He started out in Tin Pan Alley in the same office as Elton John. At a small family gathering he introduced us to a handsome thing who does a bit of work for him. And he left home at 48. As a kind of supplementary insight, they played Queen on the soundtrack ("Mamma mia, let me go. Let him go? No no no no no no no!"). The puerile grin and squeezy blinks are pure Benny Hill. This is just a guess, but is the rest of him too?

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