An insultingly lowbrow formula in a breakneck parade of meaningless soundbites

CHRIS MAUME SPORT ON TV

ITV DOCUMENTARIES are atrocious by and large, the on-screen equivalent of some trashy old free sheet shoved through your letterbox. The Truth About Footballers certainly maintained standards with its insultingly lowbrow formula of finding out what a bunch of minor celebrities think about the game, in a breakneck parade of mostly meaningless soundbites.

One of the first topics up for discussion was the burning issue of whether players should have sex before a match, which gives you some idea of the agenda. And when one of the celebs actually said, seconds into the programme, that "football is the new rock 'n' roll", it was nearly switch-off time there and then.

With its hint at behind-the-scenes exposes, the title was disgracefully misleading, the biggest (and most disturbing) revelation being that Uri Geller is on England's side for the World Cup. "I held it in my hands, I energised it for England," he said of the trophy. "I even twisted it, just a little bit to the right."

The utensil-mangling crackpot even took credit for Scotland's penalty miss against England in Euro 96. In a helicopter overhead as Gary McAllister shaped up to take the kick, he concentrated on the ball, he says, just enough to make it wobble on the spot. The final proof that he's a few bent spoons short of a cutlery drawer was when he asserted that in 10 years' time, psychologists and "people like me" will be sitting on the bench with the manager. Psychologists, possibly. People like Geller (are there any people like Geller?), never. As one of the "personalities", the lottery host Patrick Kielty, observed, the Israeli's attachment to Reading was not quite enough to prevent them finishing bottom of the First Division earlier this month.

The fundamental weakness with The Truth... was the notion that what some B-list bozo has to say about football - about anything - is interesting. So, for example, Eamonn Holmes expatiated on players' wages, Angus Deayton on violence on the pitch and Matthew Lorenzo on life after retirement. Hardly a think tank at work there (Chris Evans, irritatingly, was easily the best informed, but then he appears to have got drunk with most Premiership players at one time or another).

There were some good lines, like Mark Radcliffe's belief that when they stop playing, "all footballers should go fat and bald and open a pub on the Wirral." And there were one or two fab cameos, particularly Lauren and Leah, who put on their gladdest rags and head off to Charlie Chan's night-club every weekend in pursuit of big game. "My whore outfit," said Lauren as she held up a pink rubber creation designed to bring the entire West Ham back four to its knees begging for mercy. Leah had been offered money by a red-top to seduce Rio Ferdinand but has eyes only for Frankie Lampard - "he's gorgeous," she sighed.

There was a modicum of heavy breathing, too, in My Summer With Des (BBC1), Arthur Smith's film created in the image of his own An Evening With Gary Lineker, a slight, charming tale about a love affair between Martin (Neil Morrissey) and the magical Rosie, played by the magical Rachel Weisz.

There was a feeling at the beginning of "not another play about football with a famous name in the title", but the engaging Morrissey captured the nuances of being a football fan during a major tournament - the way most other aspects of human existence cease to exist. "Unfortunately, someone had the stupid idea of putting gaps between games," he said.

The story was intercut with scenes from the BBC's coverage that commented wittily on the main plot, Des and Co being the Greek chorus as the progress of the love affair mirrored England's through the tournament. Martin and Rosie watched the Dutch game with mounting excitement, orgasming simultaneously as the fourth goal went in. And you just knew that, as they sat at Wembley during the shoot-out against Germany and Southgate's effort went over the bar, he was going to turn and find her gone.

It would take Rosie's magical powers to get Martin into France 98, if Dispatches: Supertouts (Channel 4) has it right. Callum Macrae, wearing his best Roger Cook suit, doorstepped his way through one English touting operation that handled more tickets than the Football Association's entire allocation for England games - and all of them, despite the touts' best assurances, unauthorised and therefore useless.

The most enjoyable scene came at the end, when Macrae bearded the boys in the lobby of the Paris Hilton as they had a drink-up to celebrate a lucrative week. As he entered with his camera crew, they all scarpered sharpish, the lobby emptying like a Wild West saloon when Jack Palance walks in. One man stayed, though, the head of the operation, David Spanton. Predictably, he had come across as a piece of low life, but he dealt with Macrae perfectly politely, and even shook his hand at the end, asking when the programme was going out. I hate to say it, but he seemed like quite a nice bloke.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Reach Volunteering: Would you like to volunteer your expertise as Chair of Governors for Livability?

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Administrator - Buckinghamshire - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Finance Admin...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?