Robin Scott-Elliot: From the sublime to the crudest, crassest and most depressingly ridiculous
View From The Sofa: In a League of their Own, Sky; Rugby World Cup, ITV
Monday 17 October 2011
It is one of this column's rules – I have an unwritten constitution – to try to find the good in any performance; Robbie Savage has lovely hair, Alan Shearer is getting better as a pundit (he had an interesting piece of analysis about Chelsea on Saturday but I neglected to make a note and have forgotten what it was, thereby possibly undermining my own argument), and the makers of In a League of their Own have got the title spot on.
It stands alone, and seems proud to do so, as the crudest, crassest, most depressing programme on TV, although I haven't watched BBC 3 recently so stand to be corrected. On last week's show there were jokes – using the term in same sense that Jedward call themselves singers – about giving Arsène Wenger oral sex, giggling about men kissing, Heather Mills having one leg and a comedian shouting "fucking posh fish" at a tank of fish (as opposed to randomly turning on the underwater upper classes).
There is another problem with the show. It's rubbish. Here's a joke from James Corden on what Phil Taylor likes to have for dinner: "Double eggs, treble chips then finish on a double ice cream." "I'm only joking," said Corden, helpfully, at one point. Corden appears to be turning into Ricky Gervais playing James Corden. Maybe the whole thing is a Corden in-joke, The Office of the comedy quiz world. There has to be something to explain its excruciating awfulness.
If that was a wasted hour, the two Rugby World Cup semi-finals were reviving examples of why there is such appetite for sport and its spin-offs on TV. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the red card in the first semi-final (which was badly missed by the host broadcasters – the caption on screen was the first viewers knew of it), it was an engrossing spectacle, notably the final few minutes as Wales desperately sought one last chance with the clock on the corner of the screen already turned red. The best line of Saturday's semi-final, though, came from the French coach, Marc Lièvremont, who remarked in the build-up that the danger with his country was "we become too self-satisfied". The French? Whatever next?
Yesterday was another brutal, bruising match-up that unfolded amid a cacophonous atmosphere and made for riveting TV. "For anyone who loves their rugby ferocious and physical this was it," enthused Lawrence Dallaglio. The game ended with a lonely Australian being swamped by four black jerseys deep in his own half. Throughout there was a constant suspicion that there were more than 15 New Zealanders on the pitch, such were the numbers of black shirts.
Pitchside, Don Fitzpatrick had on the same black shirt he sported for their quarter-final – it will no doubt be back for final – and pronounced himself happy before heading off to potter around his veg patch. Fitzpatrick was "uptight" beforehand – which explained why his deadly smile was wider than ever. He is not to be missed ahead of – and after – the final.
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