Sport on TV: Unreal and surreal meet in the acid-hued world of the cavorting cockerel

"Unreal," Barry Davies said as Scotland found themselves in Brazil's group yet again in the World Cup Draw (Eurosport, BBC2, ITV). But he might have been talking about the whole damn show, which was enacted on a stage set constructed by someone with either no taste or lots of good acid. A mad riot of blue, I think it was probably the same set used for this year's Eurovision Song Contest (which I only saw because, er, I was tied to a chair with my eyelids held open like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange).

The BBC wisely steered clear of the music at the beginning of the show, while Eurosport gave us Youssou n'Dour and a French chanteuse who seemed to be called Axle Red (one of Dulux's new range, apparently) singing the diabolically awful France 98 anthem. Via Eurosport's lousy sound it came across like an emasculated Paul Simon circa Graceland. Pele lookalike N'Dour, though, is a genuine star - despite his jacket, which was clearly modelled on that cornea-abrasing blue-and-white- flecked number that Manchester United wore as their 13th away strip a few years ago (for Coca-Cola Cup second legs when there was an R in the month, I seem to remember).

He and Mlle Red were joined by a bunch of kids dressed in an overblown parody of street style, dancing with those jerky mannerisms so beloved of Janet or Michael Jackson (I can never tell which one is which these days).

The Beeb kicked off instead with one of those clip-sequences they love so much (and generally do so well), all the most famous World Cup moments over some rather cheap disco nonsense (whoever selects their music, which is usually done brilliantly, let themselves down on this occasion). Then after accounts of how England and Scotland made it this far, it was on to the Old Dependables in the studio, where Jimmy Hill pronounced himself "frightened already" and wondered where Paraguay was. The ever-prescient Alan Hansen picked Romania as the seed to be seen with.

In Marseilles, Davies was his usual slightly donnish self, wearing his erudition like an old, comfy cardigan. On stage, the show was being presented by a couple of TF1 presenters, Roger Zabel and Carole Rousseau (I don't know if she was born free, but she wasn't in chains). Eurosport's Archie Mc-Pherson (who has written on Scottish football for this paper) was doing a perfectly good job, but it's difficult to match Bazza's languidly elegant way with words.

Sepp Blatter was running the show, complete with one of those microphone headsets also popularised by Janet Jackson to a fair number of whistles from the crowd (everyone who set foot on stage to help with the draw also had them, which seemed a little superfluous as no one except Blatter and the TF1 couple spoke.

Brazil, naturally, were first out of the hat - or flashy salad bowl, in fact - and Ronaldo was brought on, fresh from the exhibition game, in which he'd captained the Rest of the World (he must have had to hurry, though he didn't have much in the way of hair to dry). As each team was drawn, a player from that country was led on by one of a team of hostesses, to sit by the side of the stage like guests on This Is Your Life and do little else (nothing else, in fact). It was interesting that out of the 32, two did not look like refugees from an Armani fashion shoot - Paul Ince and Gordon Durie, who were wearing those big football coats, no doubt to fulfil some sponsorship deal (if my ears didn't deceive me, by the way, the Scot, who had been billed for the afternoon's game as Ian Durie, suffered further nomenclaturial indignity when he was ushered on to the stage as Darren Jackson).

Famous former players were enlisted to help with the draw, including my hero from the 1982 World Cup, Marius Tresor, who had the air of an enlightened African head of state. Once each salad bowl was manned, the show resembled the set of the Fifteen To One quiz show, which I was once forced to watch one afternoon in a similar manner to the Eurovision.

In stark contrast to the dignified bearing of Tresor and the other elder luminaries were the antics of Footix, the infernally irritating mascot, which I guess is supposed to resemble the Gallic cockerel. The creature pranced around the stage for no apparent reason - all cockerel and bull if you ask me.

Once the draw was underway, there were, fortunately, few interruptions, and MC Blatter zipped through it all with a thoroughly professional air. There was a cutaway of Glenn Hoddle looking suitably smug when England were given a fairly easy ride, though Craig Brown looked a little taken aback.

Back in the studio (once again the BBC wisely avoided the music, a kind of salsa without the spice), Jimmy Hill was playing Nostradamus. "You can look at five of the groups and I can pick the results now," he said. I wish they'd held him to that.

When it comes to the Scots, he was probably right. You can see it now: gallant defeat to Brazil, goalless draw against Norway, apocalpytic pratfall against Morocco. They needn't bother going, really.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

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

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Guru Careers: Product Training Specialist / Software Trainer

£25 - 32,500K (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Produ...

Recruitment Genius: Unqualified NVQ Assessors - Health, Social Care & Management

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions