TELEVISION REVIEW / Cometh the hour, cometh not the man

'IF YOU like to keep a record of these things that was the 224th yellow card of this World Cup,' said Barry Davies early in the final, a little nod to the man whose still-warm cushion he was occupying. Motty would have banged a statistic like that in without the apologetic preamble, but Barry was showing a trace of big- match jitters. Shortly afterwards he dumped the maths in favour of grand literary hullabaloo. 'Football's play of passion. Is underway,' he said, 'For whom the joy. For whom. The despair?'

The match took its toll, frankly. He'd used up his resources of Kipling early into extra time and by the end was beginning to flick rather frantically through the Oxford Book of Posh Bits, the scoreboard staring him in the face like a double-barrelled shotgun. 'Cometh the hour . . . but still not cometh the man,' he ventured desperately as extra time ran out. Cometh not the right occasion for that quotation, either.

He should just have made something up and claimed it was from The Anatomy of Melancholy or The Faerie Queen. That, at least, would have appealed to Derek Hatton, who presented a sprightly and amoral celebration of cheating in On the Line (BBC 2). 'It's something I've been accused of one or two times,' said Derek, with what he clearly thought was a disarming twinkle. In fact the latest accusation (still sub-judice) is of a conspiracy to defraud the Norwich Union of pounds 20,324 - not quite the same as nudging your golf ball from the rough on to the fairway.

Hatton's ostensible argument was that cheating is inseparably linked to the passion and drama of sport and that the tabloid treatment of sporting transgressors was simply hypocritical. To this end we were shown Andoni Goikoetxea (the Butcher of Bilbao) listening to classical music. Goikoetxea was the man who put Maradona out of the game for three months with a tackle so late it had brought a note from its mum. He professed contrition at injuring a fellow footballer, which sat rather oddly with the fact that he had specially framed the boots that did the deed.

'Not quite the pantomime villain we've been sold,' concluded Hatton optimistically. At which point I remembered that the last time I saw Derek Hatton on television (apart from news bulletins, that is) was when he was preparing for the role of King Rat in regional pantomime. It became clear that he had obtained possession of a harmless sports programme and used it to make a case for himself as a net contributor to the nation's gaiety, whatever the accountants might have to say about the matter.

Some of the cheekiness hit home. Hatton recounted the case of the Swedish golf pro Johan Tumba, who suffered ignominy when it was discovered that he had doctored his golf score in a PGA competition. At the same time, Hatton pointed out, 'the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad were getting promotions for this sort of handiwork'. But Hatton's main argument, that dodging the rules is somehow admirable, even heroic, will only have fooled the more gullible observers. It was a good week for suggesting that everyone is at it really ('Anglers can make even politicians look honest,' he noted), a bad week for suggesting that nobody really cares.

Students of international affairs may like to note that Peter Arnett, who broadcast for CNN on the first night of the Gulf War and became a star, is now reporting from Haiti. Ted Turner, the network's owner, is expected to give President Clinton permission to go ahead with the invasion any day now. They just need to do some last minute checks on the satellite connections and get the mini-bar stocked up.

World Cup television, page 34

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen