Sir Alex Ferguson has endured one of the most challenging weeks of his career. When his authority was tested, he found himself helplessly exposed. "Just remember one thing," he said. "Respect this club. I don't want any nonsense from you." But despite the fact that he had refused to talk to the BBC for six years after the Corporation made a programme about his son Jason's activities as an agent, his puce face was to be found staring out of every Beeb news bulletin, showing him at his weakest. No wonder he was "dumbfounded" and "bemused". If his face could have got any redder, it would have shown his embarrassment. He couldn't have looked more uncomfortable if he had been caught with his pants down in a Liverpool brothel.
The medium of choice has been MUTV, which occupies that nether world between television and the internet. Of late, TV documentaries about sport have tended towards portraying the sort of extreme or unusual athletic feats that are the internet's fixation. The programmes have brought to a wider audience the dazzling but largely obscure deeds of a bonkers few, although the subject matter tends to merit 10 minutes of our time rather than an hour or more.
Rude Tube: Ultimate Champions (Channel 4, Wednesday) managed to get through the top 50 internet clips of so-called champions in well under the hour. One in which Sir Alex might have found some consolation was about head-kicking – which involves kicking yourself in the head, not other people. David Dicks had been the world champion, fittingly dressed in a Stoke City shirt, until he was beaten by some dastardly American called Jacob Shatz (the record is 106).
Here, too, was Sian Walsh and Wendy Ingraham literally crawling home in the 1997 World Ironman Championships after two and a half miles of swimming, 112 miles on a bike and a full marathon. And there was Mallakhamb, or Indian pole-dancing for men, a remarkable physical phenomenon, alongside the world's fastest undresser, the most continuous headspins (144) and the "Geordie Pantsman", Gary Craig, who broke the record for wearing the most underpants at once.
But the ultimate prize went to cage fighter Paul Vasquez with a stonking 17 million hits on the net. He wasn't fighting, though; instead he showed the soft side of Mixed Martial Artists by completely breaking down at the sight of a rainbow. He may not have earned much for his extraordinary fame but if he looked really closely, he might have spotted a funny little man with a Scouse accent crouching down next to a pot of gold.
* With the slurry of sports quizzes infecting our screens, it would be no great surprise if viewers were getting turned off TV, let alone sport. The latest in this excruciating production line is Mark Watson Kicks Off (ITV4, Thursday), though it could well have had a slightly different title.
Essentially a rip-off of Radio 5 Live's Fighting Talk, it featured Graham Taylor, who listed his greatest sporting moment as winning an under-11s chess tournament. No great surprise there. He was funnier than the comedians he was pitted against, which was also no surprise since he has long been a laughing stock. And he was obsessed by Rooney's sex life. Perhaps he had his pawn mixed up with his porn.Reuse content