Robin Scott-Elliot: To innuendo and beyond... BBC buzz leaves ITV struggling to get airborne

View From The Sofa: Euro 2012 BBC1/ITV1

A few thoughts from the opening weekend of Euro 2012: three weeks of Gary Lineker quips is a big ask; the full-arm tattoo is going to be the statement accessory of the tournament; Gareth Southgate really should sit up straight in ITV's large studio chairs – what example is that to set when you're in charge of developing the FA's youngsters?; Alan Shearer is turning into Buzz Lightyear; and Martin Keown already deserves the David Coleman Memorial innuendo prize for suggesting that a Dutch player had managed a "couple of legovers and just can't keep it down".

There is nothing on TV sportswise to beat a World Cup or a European Championship and the view from this sofa has always been to elevate the Euros to the top spot. There is an intensity to the competition as fixtures resonate with history, not least because one side's country has more often than not invaded the other at some point over the centuries. In some cases several times. You don't have to look far for a possible grudge – Russia v Poland tomorrow for instance – and given that there are only 16 teams, most of whom are clustered among the world's best, the whole event speeds by. From 2016 there will be 24 nations involved and that will detract hugely from the tournament but earn Uefa more money, which at least is their silver lining sorted.

Part of the TV appeal of a finals is the BBC v ITV contest, and the challenge ITV face to come close to denting the corporation's traditional advantage was obvious from the moment the BBC aired an excellent film of Denmark's shock triumph in 1992 to preview Saturday's game with the Dutch.

Memories tend to come accompanied by a BBC soundtrack – John Motson, at the height of his alliterative phase, declaring: "It's dramatic, it's delightful, it's Denmark" as the Danes triumph; Motson yelling "Plaaatiniii" during the 1984 Championship.

This time ITV have made the effort to base their coverage in Warsaw, while the BBC, pointing out maiden aunt-like that it's our money they are saving, have stayed in Manchester. On a recent visit to Ukraine I was taken on a tour of Donetsk, an industrial city that will never be a holiday destination. Our guide, a native, was very happy to live there and took us to see where "people come to grill sausages on the weekend". There is not much to see in Donetsk. "It's like your Manchester," said the guide. So maybe the BBC will, after all, be well placed to give us a taste of what England can expect tonight.

Except the game will be on ITV, who have gambled on choosing to show England's first two games and then hand the BBC the better choices of the quarter-finals. The BBC have started well. Lineker, for all his ho-ho lines about Germans arriving early, is the best football presenter around and a line-up of Harry Redknapp, Lee Dixon and Clarence Seedorf for Saturday's Holland game was refreshingly different. Shearer, meanwhile, has been dispatched to Lviv. "For me, Gary," he nearly said. "It might as well be infinity and beyond."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
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
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
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed