Sport on TV: Flintoff returns to Oz to snatch victory from jaws of crocodile
Sunday 27 May 2012
It seems entirely appropriate that Freddie Flintoff should pursue his television career on the Discovery Channel. On the cricket field he was a force of nature, an elemental being who had no need of make-up or inane chatter – although a chatshow host with a nice line in sledging is an interesting idea for a new series.
Flintoff's nickname is, after all, that of a cartoon character who clubs dinosaurs for fun. You can imagine Flintoff clobbering his prey with a cricket bat, so it's only natural that he should be given a second series of Freddie Flintoff Goes Wild (Discovery, Thursday). The only surprise is that he's the narrator rather than David Attenborough.
His first destination is Australia, naturally. "I'll be honest with you," he says. "I wasn't a big fan of Australia before I came here. My last experience of this place was getting beat 5-0 as captain." It's alright, mate, we gave them a sound thrashing last time around. He's in the Northern Territory hunting with an Aboriginal family on their reserve. "I'm in Australia, face to face with one of the world's most dangerous predators," he says, and you wonder what Shane Warne is doing out in the middle of the bush before you realise he's talking about crocodiles.
He is not allowed to kill any native species himself – that's the preserve of the Aborigines – but he does want to wrestle a croc. "Just grab its tail and hold it," suggests the father, Joseph, helpfully. Well, Flintoff always was ruthless with the tail. But even though the reptile in question is only three feet long, he manages to do himself an injury, which is no great surprise since he spent a good part of his career being crocked.
"Everyone should do this," adds Flintoff. "Don't live in a bubble. Don't sit on your arse on a beach drinking pina coladas." So when we're sitting on the beach this summer, we should get up off our backsides and take that pedalo out for a spin after one too many cocktails.
* David Gower was investigating his family history in War Hero In My Family (Five, Tuesday), along with the Radio One DJ Sara Cox, and it was no surprise that the former England captain, who has often traded on a certain poshness, should be looking back on the illustrious career of his uncle John, a naval commander, while Cox was getting her hands dirty changing tyres on a World War Two truck that her grandfather would have driven.
John Gower captained HMS Swift on convoys to Russia, considered by Winston Churchill as "the worst journey in the world". Well he never led England on a tour of the West Indies in the early Eighties. Then he took the Swift to Sword Beach for the D-Day landings, and rescued 70 men from another craft hit by a torpedo.
Then David found out about the rather less high-profile activities of his other uncle, Derek, about whom he knew very little. A Forward Observation Officer for the Third Artillery Regiment, the first target for any enemy attack, he was killed in a Sherman tank on D-Day.
His tank had its gun taken off to make room for observation devices, with a wooden decoy put on instead. There must have been times when his nephew was facing the West Indies fast bowlers that he wished he had an 80mm gun instead of just a stick of wood.
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