Last Night's Television: Clough, ITV1
Newswipe With Charlie Brooker, BBC4

You could tell a lot about Clough from the fact that this profile of "the best manager that England never had" began with a contribution from Barbara Clough, his widow. So, an authorised version then, and one openly at odds with an unauthorised version – David Peace's book The Damned United, which appalled Clough loyalists when it was first published and which will be given a new lease of life by Peter Morgan's film adaptation, which hits cinemas tomorrow. ITV1's Clough wasn't hagiography exactly – there was a candidly uncomfortable contribution from Nigel Clough about how difficult Brian could be as a father – but it was unabashedly protective in nature and there was no doubt about where the threat lay. Even Johnny Giles, a former Leeds player and a man with no strong incentive to burnish Clough's reputation, contributed to the defensive wall. "The portrayal of Brian Clough in that book is outrageous," he said. "It's mean and it's mean-spirited and it's wrong".

If you skipped the programme because you thought you had no interest in football you missed something good. I have no interest in football either, but I doubt if anyone could find Brian Clough dull. That's what both Peace and Morgan recognised in him, a character whose charisma and self-belief was intimately knitted into both his successes and his defeats. A character, also, whose story fits deeply rooted narrative templates. Rags to riches would be the first of them, exemplified here by the way Clough took Derby County from Second Division mediocrity to the top of the First Division, with the help of his friend Peter Taylor. "He turned the average into the extraordinary," said one contributor, a remark in which the first term is just as important as the second. Clough's triumph feeds our unappeasable appetite for underdog transformation, with its implicit promise that we too might find the extraordinary in ourselves. The second narrative template is Icarus, in which the underdog overreaches itself.

Clough's first brush with the sun was the letter of resignation he tendered to the Derby County board, an offer he confidently assumed would be rejected but wasn't. Undaunted, he soared even higher, accepting a job with Leeds United, a club he'd repeatedly demonised for the dirty style of its football and with whose manager, Don Revie, he had a long and public rivalry. "It would be like Arsène Wenger taking over the job Manchester United," said Roy McFarland, struggling to convey the oddity of this marriage. "That is extreme," said an off-camera voice. "It's not extreme enough," McFarland replied. A more diplomatic man, or one less dazzled by his own reputation for plain-speaking, might have begun by soothing hurt feelings. Clough began by hurting them some more, telling the players that their medals and trophies had all been won by cheating. Unsurprisingly, this unusual motivational technique led to a string of defeats and Clough's sacking after just 44 days. Unlike Icarus, he landed, fixed his wings, and, with Peter Taylor, took Nottingham Forest to two successive European Cup victories, though his outspoken style may well have cost him the job he most wanted, which was to manage England. Lawrie McMenemy, one of a handful of candidates when the job became vacant, recalled waiting for the interview in the lobby of the FA headquarters and watching as Clough teased an elderly gentleman who had paused, breathless, on the stairs. Elderly gentleman turned out to be on the appointment panel, though there was also a suggestion that his vote would have been irrelevant anyway since the FA chairman had already decided to ignore public and expert opinion by offering it to Ron Greenwood. The film tartly concluded this account of missed opportunity with a close up of the FA's vapid mission statement: "A World-Class Organisation with a Winning Mentality".

On a good day, Charlie Brooker can make Brian Clough look like Kofi Annan. He's a kind of genius of spleen and when it's directed at the right target it can be deeply gratifying to watch him in action. But Newswipe with Charlie Brooker doesn't work quite as well as Screenwipe, the television-based series from which it has been spun off. What Brooker promises is a "fun, snarky, weekly digest" to help less committed viewers keep up with "the world's most complicated soap opera" – the news. And when he concentrates on style it can be both funny and telling. To have the visual metaphors used to tart up news reports on "quantitive easing" dipped in acid until only the witless desperation of the endeavour was left was not only entertaining but salutary. There was also a striking contribution from Nick Davies, on how PR companies can effectively manipulate the news agenda. But elsewhere it occasionally strikes you as a one-man Have I Got News for You, and the contributions from people who aren't Charlie Brooker fall sadly short of the cutting precision of the man whose name is in the title.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

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

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing