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
Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice