Sport on TV: Happy days in the Euro zone but beastly nights for Burns

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The Independent Online

The Ashes excitements were the cue for more predictable chuntering that England's triumph should not have been available to view live only on pay-per-view Sky Sports 1.

It would, of course, have been friendly of Sky to show the action on a free-to-air channel, but Rupert Murdoch didn't get where he is by being friendly. Yet even he can't vacuum up every sporting event in sight, and last week British Eurosport had plenty of decent live offerings. Better still, they came without the over-the-top ballyhoo that accompanies much of Sky's output.

A cynic might argue that their minimalist approach is dictated more by lack of pennies than active preference, but it was a welcome change to watch England playing football, in the Women's European Championship in Finland on Tuesday, without enduring endless pre- and post-match interviews and squadrons of pontificating former players back in the studio. In fact there was no visible studio, and the identity of the commentators remained a mystery, which is possibly taking modesty too far, as they were perfectly professional.

This mixture of coyness and competence extended to extensive coverage of two sports which Brits are pretty good at, but tend to get largely ignored on these shores between Olympics. In Poland on Thursday, the GB squad stormed through the World Rowing Championships semi-finals, reaching six out of seven finals. Later that day England's women met Germany in the semis of the European Hockey Championships, going out to a golden goal in extra time (I know, I know), but at least we'd had the pleasure of watching the England men stuff Belgium 8-2 the day before. So well done Eurosport and keep it up, whoever you all are.

* The Yemenis' preferred sport is jumping (over) camels, according to The Frankincense Trail (BBC2, Thursday), but the big, lumbering beast who caught our eye was former football hardman Neil Ruddock in a repeat of Celebrity Wife Swap (E4, Tuesday) – we've become a bit of a fan of this series after last week's episode. The twist was that his "wife" for a week was gender-bending popster Pete Burns, who has undergone considerably more cosmetic surgery than Ruddock's partner, Leah, a former Page Three model, though in different areas.

Although nicknamed Razor, Ruddock doesn't appear to possess one, and at the start his stubbly jowls wobbled up and down gently as he spent most of the time sleeping, waking only to don his Millwall shirt and go down the pub. Poor Pete, meanwhile, was up to his elegant elbows in nappies and dog shit.

As is the way on CWS, a compromise was reached, and Razor ended by exclaiming that Pete and his own partner, Michael, were by far the nicest couple he'd ever met. Probably not a view you'd hear from too many denizens of the New Den.

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