Television Review

ENVY IS, it's true, never an attractive quality, but it can sometimes be forgiven. The Football Millionaires (BBC1) sent Alan Hansen off to meet the new superstars of the Premiership. When Hansen started his career he was paid pounds 12 a week, and eight years after he retired he still has to make ends meet with football punditry and advertising football boots on Saturday morning children's TV ("Every one is signed by me - Alan Hansen": and what seven-year-old wouldn't find that an intensely desirable object?). He's hardly on the bread line, but his earnings look paltry next to those of David Beckham and Michael Owen. Even the relative failures are doing all right these days: Robbie Savage, rejected by Man United after a career in their youth team, pulls in around pounds 200,000 a year playing for Leicester, and reckons that after five or six years he will be set up for life.

So if, at times, in this rather over-stretched 50 minutes Hansen seemed a little strained, you could see his point. The strain was most obvious when he spent a morning with Michael Owen. First they strode around the golf course, where Owen blithely sank a 15ft putt. "Is there anything you're bad at?" Hansen quipped. Then Owen thrashed him at snooker, and he said it again. And again. And again. Elsewhere, he was watching David Beckham practising his goal kicks: "That was a fluke," Hansen announced after a perfect chip into the top corner. His smile was starting to look rather fixed.

Mind you, Hansen's smile always does look fixed (he models his on-camera make-up on his boyhood idols Scott and Virgil Tracy, pilots of Thunderbirds 1 and 2 respectively), and the effort we observed here may have had less to do with being born 10 years too early than with having to sound bright and witty. Hansen cracks a joke with the carefree air of a man who has woken up to find a rattlesnake coiled on his chest. To be fair to him, though, if Groucho Marx and Maggie Smith had had a love-child, it couldn't have added much zest to this dull script, with its barely comprehensible platitudes ("One thing is certain - wherever there are heroes, there will always be football").

At some stage in the production process, the purpose of this programme had slipped away. Instead of analysis, we got a pile of bland trivia. Did anybody really not know that Jamie Redknapp is married to the chipmunkish popster Louise, or not suspect that David Beckham is a bit of a smug git? If this programme proved a point, it was that practically anything can get on television if it has "football" in the title.

As I say, envy can sometimes be forgiven. But not always. Wonderful You (ITV) stars Richard Lumsden as Henry, who is more a kind of Pitiful Him - hitting 30, sans girlfriend, sans career, sans mortgage and consumed with self-pity. Last week, his pathetic prospects were brought into focus by an encounter with the gorgeous Clare (Lucy Akhurst), formerly the object of his unrequited slavering. She was happily ensconced in a relationship with Marshall - successful, charming, good-looking (and played by Greg Wise). But this week, the relationship fell apart, and Clare sought consolation from Henry, gawky bag of tears that he is.

Naturally, we're all in favour of the underdog, but there is a limit to just how far under I'm prepared to go, and Henry exceeds it by a country mile. The problem is partly with Lumsden, who is perfectly capable of keeping his mouth closed when he wants to, but who just doesn't seem prepared to take the trouble. It's plausible that a woman would overlook this defect if he had a pleasant personality, but the script even denies him that (Lumsden co-wrote it, incidentally, so I'm not letting him off the hook). The usual curve of drama is to make the protagonist sadder and wiser; but since Henry already is sadder, and shows absolutely no propensity to learn, it's hard to see where this can take us.

All this reminds me of a bad continuity slip-up that has been preying on me since last week, when Henry was seen on a bus - the exterior was a modern, driver-only operation, the interior was an old- fashioned Routemaster. Can you believe it? I offer this purely in a spirit of constructive criticism, by the way. I wouldn't want you to think I'm a sad person or anything.

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own