Sport on TV: Hatton family milk acclaim as nation faces personality crisis

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The Independent Online

Regardless of whether he won or lost last night, Ricky Hatton should be the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year. The boxer actually has one, which helps. In fact it bursts out of him like a great big pounding heart the size of a punchbag.

He is genuinely funny, often hilarious, and really is a "man of the people", as he is known, even in a place as down to earth as Las Vegas: he loves his pints and pies, his footy and family. But any one of Hatton's family could win the award. On the excellent four-parter 'Hatton v Mayweather 24/7' one of Sky's 24 preview programmes last week in its massive build-up to the Vegas showdown Hatton says of his mother Carol: "She's always the loudest voice ringside but comes up with the stupidest advice you could imagine: "Be careful!", "Get out the way!". Carol adds: "I've never hoped an opponent would be hurt [pause] but I want to ram that crown he [Mayweather] wears on his head down his throat." Hatton's father Ray admits: "I married her out of fear."

Then there's "Richard's" grannie, who says things like: "You know what, Ricky, people say you look like me." Boxing runs in the genes brother Matthew is also a successful pro — so maybe Grandma Hatton did a few rounds too.

So long as it wasn't the milk round. On Russell Brand's 'Ponderland' (E4, Thursday) the comedian looked at sport. Having admitted that he once turned up to an audition for adidas Predator football boots without wearing any football kit and ended up doing it in his pants and a pair of Doc Martens, he showed an old documentary of a retired fighter with an utterly destroyed face who said: "The only scars I ever had in boxing was a broken nose and three stitches in my eye. The rest of them was done with lacerations of milk bottles." That just shows the dangers our grandparents had to face day to day.

A boxer should get the BBC's gong since it was Britain's most successful high-profile sport this year. Joe Calzaghe is not likelyto win after he said of his failure last year, "It seems like the country gets behind losers". But at least that gives us plenty of contenders.

Another man who would never win the nation's hearts is Mayweather. But Sky's depiction of him was unrelentingly negative, emphasising his mother's drug problems and his estrangement from his father, who was shot by his uncle while holding baby Mayweather. Boxers aren't all like Hatton, far from it. At least he was hot-footing it to Vegas after appearing on 'Dancing with the Stars'.

Meanwhile Russell Brand was mocking a Seventies show in which an organist tries to become a wrestler. "Why did they invest in that insane reality?" he asked. Yet actually it sounds like a typical modern programme except there would be a celebrity (or is it "personality") in there somewhere. How about a wrestling match between Russell and his namesake Jo?