Matt Gatward: Flintoff and Redknapp in relegation zone of their own
View From The Sofa: A League Of Their Own/Snooker, Sky One/BBC Red Button
Monday 19 April 2010
The ingredients mean A League Of Their Own should be a tasty little sports quiz show. Everyone's favourite comedian, the ubiquitous James Corden, who is flavour of the month following his Sport Relief antics, is the host with everyone's favourite (former) cricketer, Andrew Flintoff, captaining one side and everyone's favourite holiday rep, Jamie Redknapp, the other. Sadly, though, rather than delivering a feast of fun, it's all a tad stale.
The show is built around two "comedy" themes. Firstly, that Redknapp's truncated football career was because he was injury-prone. Given that he retired in 2005 it hardly feels that fresh an idea and smacks of a similar gag used at Gary Lineker's expense in They Think It's All Over, which disappeared from view around the same time Redknapp retired. The second is that Flintoff likes a drink. Again, it's a theme as flat as the 2005 Ashes champagne in which he famously overindulged.
Panellist John Bishop rescues the show to a degree, by dint of actually being a comedian and therefore an amusing bloke. His Marcel Marceau impression this week was a shining light in a fog of John Terry and David Beckham jokes.
But it was, somewhat surprisingly, Rio Ferdinand who delivered the funniest line when, as a guest who had to reveal the three worst things about being a Premier League footballer, he named defeat at the top of the list. "After losing a match you don't wanna go out, you're embarrassed. You don't wanna take your kids to school because one of the other kids is gonna say something and all you want to do is" – pause – "put 'em in a bush." Flintoff would have been proud of that delivery.
On one recent episode, Redknapp, Freddie and Bishop had to roar as a barometer of their manliness. It was as cringe-inducing as it sounds. This week Bishop had to hold some weights in the air while his team-mates answered questions. The time ran out when he could no longer keep the weights in the air. Hardly comedy gold. Mind you, if Clegg, Brown and Cameron had been made to do something similar in their TV debate on Thursday it would have made for better viewing. Try doing that with your hand in your pocket, Nick.
All in all, you can't help thinking that Flintoff would be better off concentrating on his stated ambition of becoming the best one-day player in the world. The best quiz show in the world this ain't. Being Sky, at least there's an advert break during which you could try and remove your spleen with a rusty trowel for a bit of light relief.
Searching for the snooker World Championship on the Beeb on Saturday revealed an unexpected delight. Behind that red button, as part of their coverage they are showing classic frames from down the years at the Crucible – when players were interesting characters and not today's band of faceless automatons (Ronnie aside, of course).
One offering was Cliff Thorburn's wonderful 147 back in 1983. The collapse to his knees of Thorburn, bushy moustache and all, upon nailing the final black brings a tear to the eye. As does seeing Terry Griffiths sitting in his chair puffing away on a fag. Hard to believe they were ever allowed. Bushy moustaches that is, not cigarettes.
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