Robin Scott-Elliot: Round-ball punditry turns on its Axis and stands still

View From The Sofa: The Premier League, ESPN/Gary & Danielle's Northern Exposure, BBC1 NI

With that line-up they'd only gone to Goodison for one thing, to do a job, get a result. At the end of the day that's all you can ask. And that's what Stubbsy, Reidy, Royley and Wrighty did on Saturday. ESPN's debut was as ordinary as it had promised to be since they unveiled their line-up. It was their good fortune to be blessed with a result that was extraordinary, which gave them a chance to play with their new toy, the Axis, more times than they could have dared hope for.

"We've got a machine," said Stubbsy at half-time introducing the Axis (of evil?), which freezes the action and swivels round to give the viewer a different angle. But that wasn't the only machine they had up their sleeve; they also had the Rebecca Lowe, an interviewing machine, who prowled the corridors of Goodison Park in search of people to share her pair of ESPN-branded mics. She showed us the room where she dragged her prey. "So you know what it looks like," she added helpfully before holding the teams in the tunnel moments before kick off to perform just one more piece to camera. "Here I am in the tunnel – it has walls, some doors and even a ceiling. And look, lucky viewers, players..."

The tunnel did produce the highlight of ESPN's debut when Marouane Fellaini and Andrei Arshavin stood side by side waiting for the off. It was a double take moment... there was Sideshow Bob and Bart Simpson. Which probably makes David Moyes Groundskeeper Willie.

Presenting the Premier League offers no problems for an old pro like Stubbs, a man schooled on Grandstand, so equipped to enthuse about anything and nothing and able to fill better than Senator Strom Thurmond with a head on. Opposite Stubbs, around the wiggle of ESPN's shimmering new desk, Reid and Wright (there's a joke in there somewhere) are a dull choice. Is there some sort of punditry cabal which leads to the same old faces popping up time after time? On Match of the Day Gary Lineker promised "incisive punditry" and soon Alan Hansen was speaking of someone turning on a sixpence. Alan Shearer nodded incisively alongside him. It's going to be a long season on the sofa.

Not that that prospect seems to worry Gary. And not surprisingly, as anyone who's had the pleasure of watching Gary and Danielle's Northern Exposure knows too well, the eponymous Gary is walking on air at the moment. The reason for that, unless he's stumbled on something remarkable in the BBC props dept, appears to be Danielle. The programme has the pair touring Northern Ireland plugging various activities – Gary horse-riding wearing a black cowboy hat (and white trainers), restaurants – Gary losing count in a seven-course tasting menu, and hotels – Gary sleeping, in what is some sort of unashamed infomercial. Troy McClure, to maintain this week's theme, might have thought twice before accepting this gig.

It doesn't bother the happy couple though, who, to stick my neck out, possibly saw it as a launch pad for Danielle's TV career. While she put on her best TV presenting face, Gary gambolled around, giggling and gurning like a lovestruck teenager. At one point the happy couple drove through rain, the hood of their sports car firmly down and the windscreen wipers working furiously.

"It's great to be here," is ESPN's religiously repeated mantra and G&D were in the same ball park, albeit a bit on the damp side.

By defeating Everton 6-1 at Goodison Park on Saturday, Arsenal recorded the joint highest-scoring opening day victory in the Premier League since its inception in 1992, equalling Liverpool's 6-1 win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park at the start of the 1994-95 season.

Suggested Topics
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Life and Style
Kissing
life
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test