Sport on TV: When it comes to showjumpers there's no sitting on the fence

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The Independent Online

In Inside Sport – The Princess Royal at 60 (BBC1, Thursday) John Inverdale said to Princess Anne that the monarchy had become much more open in recent years. But Princess Anne has long seemed to be the public – if ever so slightly equine – face of the Royals.

This reputation does not stem from her feats in the realm of equestrianism – gold and silver in the European Championships and the only member of the Royal Family to have competed in the Olympics – which aren't likely to endear her to the masses, but from her no-nonsense style and straight talking. You could almost imagine her saying: "My arse!" as Inverdale adopted his fawning BBC tone and she slapped back answers like the ultra-competitive sportswoman she was.

The only point they could agree upon was how bizarre it was that she should have won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in 1971. She was also rightly surprised that her daughter, Zara Phillips, won it for her own showjumping exploits. Then she admitted that she only turned on at the end because she thought the show was "a bit long-winded". So first she slaps the wrist of the BBC's leading sports presenter, then she tears a strip off the Beeb's sporting showpiece.

They didn't win the award because of all that horsing around. So why? Do we, as a nation, still love posh people? Or is it because sport makes them more approachable? We can all enjoy the story of Anne on a touchline watching her son play rugby, releasing a dog on to the pitch at a certain moment to hold up the game.

Anne brought her children up away from the palace. She may have been the first Royal to appear on a TV quiz show when she went on A Question of Sport but she despises the cult of celebrity. "Generally the attitude towards people's lives is quite extraordinary," she said. Then Inverdale asked: "Do you shut the door and order a pizza?" "Didn't I say something about drawing the line between public and private?" she snapped back. "That's where it is." Being famous can be useful: you can put people in their place. Otherwise they will just take the pizza. At least this princess gives you a slice of life too.

The semi-finalists in Celebrity Masterchef (BBC1, Thursday) might have been better off ordering in a pizza. They had to make lunch for 400 workers at the Olympic Stadium and then had a far more difficult task, cooking dinner for Lord Coe, Dame Kelly Holmes and Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Britain's sporting aristocracy.

Coe forgot to mention he was allergic to fish and then Holmes sent back her rare steak, preferring it to be thoroughly nuked. Christine Hamilton was responsible for the meat dish and you could imagine her thinking a steak tartare was overdone. It might have gone down better with a few Olympic onion rings.