At the start of Life Stories (ITV1, Thursday), Piers Morgan asked his audience: "Is Boris Becker the bad boy we all think he is?" Considering the show was being repeated (from the previous Saturday) at the same time that Nick Griffin appeared on 'Question Time', perhaps it should have been the BNP leader being cast as a pantomime villain by the former tabloid editor. Then he added that Becker had been voted the nation's favourite German and viewers were suddenly glad that Griffin wasn't there to talk about his own favourite Germans.
In spite of such an accolade, you have to wonder why Becker deserved to be showcased in this fashion. But soon it became all too obvious why. After all, in a previous series, he had grilled Nancy Dell'Olio (lightly drizzled with olive oil). Yes, the old hack was being downright prurient. Sven Goran Eriksson's old squeeze, Bonking Boris in the broom cupboard... patently Morgan has not raised his tone since he left the 'Mirror' in disgrace.
"If there was one question that the British public wanted to ask, it would be 'What happened in that broom cupboard?", he leered – referring to Becker's brief (some say extraordinarily brief) liaison with a waitress in a London restaurant on the night he quit tennis forever. Becker put his popularity with the British down to a "25-year-old love affair", which was a definite improvement on 40 seconds anyway.
Becker was catapulted to fame like a 130mph ace when he won Wimbledon at the age of 17. After that, his life would never be normal – he wished he hadn't won it until he was 21. Women threw themselves at him and, as he said: "Not having to explain yourself over dinner, over and over again, saves a lot of time." Not even bothering with the food saves even more time.
It seems horribly ironic that on the very day he gave up his brilliant but all-consuming career, he should also have thrown away the rest of his life, for the resulting love child led to the end of his marriage. If one can only guess at what goes through the mind of a great sportsman in his pomp, how much more unreachable are the emotions that come spurting out when he suddenly decides to give it all up. Becker had reached break point, and it was "Love all, waitress to serve".
* The finalists on Masterchef: The Professionals (BBC1, Tuesday) had to prepare a lunch for VIPs in a £1 million- a-year box at Stamford Bridge. It wouldn't be plain old prawn sandwiches at Chelsea for Kevin Pietersen and James Cracknell. Steve Groves, the winner, said: "We're cooking for people who expect perfection. They deserve it." When they were served their starter, Pietersen observed: "Asparagus and eggs? That's a different combination, not one I've had before." KP should change his name to KFC.Reuse content