Robin Scott-Elliot: Doyle's sleight of hand no match for Sheringham's Lord Flashheart

View From The Sofa: FA Cup Live and Highlights, ITV1, Saturday

ITV, By all accounts, had a stinker of a third round. By all accounts that is except here. On that Saturday night this column had abandoned its sofa and retired to bed with an improving book – "Stop it! I'm blushing: The Life of a Modest Man" by Silvio Berlusconi – so missing a highlights programme that was apparently as well thought through as Manchester City's transfer policy. Consequently this Saturday, in a display of commitment worthy of Craig "Commitment's my middle name" Bellamy, the sofa was manned from the moment Matt Smith welcomed viewers to Hartlepool until the time Craig "Jazz Hands" Doyle bade us a cheery good night at the close of the highlights.

ITV's titles revolve around a giant FA Cup being built in a green and pleasant land accompanied by "Abide With Me". Winston Churchill even pops up. In other words: you can trust us. Poor old ITV, no one likes them and they do care. At one stage the Cup is surrounded by scaffolding – an apt image for their coverage a cynic might suggest. But since President Obama outlawed cynicism, let's instead see a work in progress. The live games were as slickly covered, presented and commentated as befits a station that has long been home to the Champions League. A gold star to Peter "Brains" Drury for quoting Lord Nelson during the Hartlepool match, although he did struggle with his list of illustrious natives of the town – Peter Mandelson and Andy Capp is nobody's idea of an A-list. But then that's Hartlepool's fault, not Drury's. The game never came close to delivering the required upset, with the highlight – and one curiously lacking from the later highlights – being a camera picking out a young native displaying immense concentration as he tried to spit over the advertising hoardings. Great expectorations often end in disappointment. Old Trafford didn't deliver much of a game either – Tottenham were unable to grasp the idea that if the opposition have scored two and you one, then you lose – but there was always David Pleat and Teddy Sheringham's groin to act as distractions.

Sheringham slouched, legs confidently ajar, in his studio chair like a pundit version of Lord Flashheart from Blackadder. "Nice for you to see me – woof!" he almost said. Instead he offered: "I can't tell you how good that goal was." And he was right.

Pleat is a quirky gem. He insists on calling United Manchester – and probably would call them United Manchester if using their full title. The words don't always come out right but he knows his subject. Long before Paul Scholes equalised he was warning Hotspur Tottenham of the danger of the Manchester man lurking outside the box at corners. While Pleat's knowledge of football would fill several volumes (and be about as easy to read as Crime and Punishment – in Russian), Craig Doyle's might struggle to outlast a Christmas thank you letter to a distant aunt – you're happy to call it a day at the top of page two.

Doyle makes up for it with enthusiasm. What we wanted, he said, were upset applecarts, what we wanted was – it had to come – the magic of the Cup. And all the time his hands were on the move, creating his own magic. Robbie Earle, sitting opposite, struggled to avoid being hypnotised.

Meanwhile, on Channel 4 (Torquay v Coventry is a Pleatian anagram for channel hop now), Walsingham was telling Queen Elizabeth that "all men need something to look up to and worship". But then he'd never met Teddy Sheringham.

Droy fits Chelsea bottom line

For those of a certain age, ITV's The Big Match Revisited is compulsory viewing. Last week it featured Manchester City against Chelsea on a snow-covered Maine Road with an orange ball and Micky Droy at the heart of the visitors' defence. Has football ever seen a larger behind than that sported by Droy?

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
News
peopleEnglishman managed the quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Flat out: Michael Flatley will return to the stage in his show Lord Of The Dance
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape