Matt Butler: Bring out the parachutes, there's a bloke in an orange wig lost in the fog

View From The Sofa: Great Birmingham Run, Channel 5

Mocking Channel Five for its sports coverage was once fish-in-barrel territory. But, as many Tottenham, Everton and Liverpool fans can attest to, the quality of the broadcaster's Europa League presentations has been more than adequate.

But, if yesterday's coverage of the Great Birmingham Run was anything to go on, Five should stick to footy. The coverage of the latest in the series of mass-participation half-marathons made as much sense as a rotund bloke in an orange wig and leotard opting to run a 13.1-mile race. Of which there were more than a few in Birmingham yesterday.

In their defence, the broadcast was delayed by fog; more specifically, a fog-bound helicopter, the purpose of which was not clear, as there was nary an aerial shot to be seen in the 90-minute presentation.

Coverage was due to begin at 10am, 10 minutes before the elite athletes, who included half-marathon world record-holder Zersenay Tadese, started the race.

But Katharine Merry appeared in a misty Victoria Square in central Birmingham at two minutes to 10 with the news that "we were expecting to bring you coverage" and the ominous caveat that the backstage staff would "do their best" to show pictures of people running in half an hour. In the meantime, we were treated to an episode of How Do They Do It? which – with unintended irony, we presume – featured a segment on safety parachutes.

The rules for covering athletics endurance events are simple: be there for the start and finish. So for a flustered Merry to welcome viewers as the elite athletes are hitting the five-mile mark is a little redundant. And with no live shots of skinny people crossing start lines, it proved to be the cue for some epic padding not seen since Adrian Chiles' verbal acrobatics during England's washout in Poland last Tuesday.

Between 10.30 and 12 minutes to 11 there was ample time for concerned faces, waffling and a host of ums, errs and uncomfortable silences. After Merry and David Moorcroft's elongated introduction, we had Eilidh Barbour stumbling through an interview with Robbie Grabarz, the 2012 Olympic high jump bronze medallist, who fired the starting gun. Questions included: "Are you cold?"

Then we crossed back to Merry and Moorcroft to witter on about the climax to the "great summer of sport" (how many climaxes does one Olympic summer need? Will we still be looking misty-eyed back to Stratford if the England cricket team win in India over Christmas?) and how the "atmosphere is building". Which was an unfortunate phrase, given the soupy fog hanging behind them.

Finally, at 10.48, it was time to cross to the start, as live. Shame the runners had started 38 minutes previously. And, in this age of social media and as-it-happens online updates, following the race was as anticipation-filled as watching the last 10 minutes of The Sixth Sense then rewinding to the beginning.

They did manage to capture the exciting sprint finish, in which Kenya's Micah Kogo edged past the Ethiopian debutant at the distance, Abera Kuma, in a fraction of a second over an hour, with Tadese in third. But by the time we got to see it, the trio will have showered, been massaged and back on the shuttle bus back to the hotel.

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
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

music
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

Theatre
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

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

film
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
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
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

  • 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.

    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