View from the Sofa: Melancholy Millar and lyrical Boardman bring us peloton pile-up TV

Tour de France Grand Départ ITV

Tim Henman came close to making a Wimbledon final. He was denied by a rain-affected match and an inspired Goran Ivanisevic 13 years ago. You’d think he’d have more than enough reason to be bitter, given his lost opportunity and the later success for Britain of Andy Murray.

You could imagine him sitting watching Wimbledon on television in his front room, clad in a string vest stained by pieces of poached egg, swigging from a warm can of super-strong lager, barking: “It coulda been me. It coulda been (burp) ME!”

Even after he became a commentator for the BBC, you could fantasise about him dishing out faint praise, insults and biting comments, having downed a few “looseners” before broadcast.

None of this has come to pass, of course. Henman has gone on to become an erudite pundit, with just enough sass to keep him interesting.

For gritted-teeth bitterness, we had to turn to David Millar, the cyclist, at the start of the Tour de France. Millar was a late addition to ITV’s commentary line-up, having been overlooked by his team earlier in the week to ride the Tour.

Gary Imlach, the host, welcomed Millar “in a melancholy way” and the rider answered: “Melancholy is the right word,” before adding with a mannequin-style grin, “It’s quite good fun. Now it’s possible to swan around a bit and soak it up.” He didn’t convince many.

Later, as the riders were trundling through Leeds on the 40-minute rollout to the start proper, he said, ostensibly speaking about the omission of Bradley Wiggins: “That’s what sport is all about, there are no gifts.” You could almost hear the cans of Elephant Beer being opened.


But it was not the time to listen to a morose Millar, there was a race to build up to. And the build-up for the opening stage from Leeds to Harrogate was a period to be endured, rather than enjoyed, especially as we had tuned in to watch a bicycle race, not Chris Boardman waxing lyrical about the town of Skipton. Plus, any pretence of continuity was lost by an advert break every bleeding 12 minutes.

After a full hour of partially successful time-filling by Imlach, Boardman and Millar, ending with the riders standing awkwardly while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made small talk with the British contingent, it was finally time to start the race.

Not that we got to see the flag drop, nor could we work out who the three riders were that broke away at the start, thanks to the picture break-up which left us looking at digital snow. Even the commentators, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, were incommunicado.

Had ITV, along with booking Millar at the last minute, left all its preparations until a couple of days before? Perhaps it had left its decent technicians over in Brazil.

It was the broadcasting equivalent of a peloton pile-up, which left us with one thought: we shoulda chosen Eurosport.

Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Morrissey pictured in 2013
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel