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
Monday 17 August 2009
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.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food