Sport on TV: Chiles a natural in fan zone for the common man
The BBC divides its football anchormen and pundits into an elite squad and the dirt-trackers. With a few add-ons, it's essentially Lineker, Hansen and Shearer – the Permatan Three – versus Chiles, Dixon and Peacock, the Men in the Street. The former get the plum jobs, the latter the leftovers. They've got it the wrong way round.
Gary Lineker is an overly feted ex-pro who's had shedloads of media training; Adrian Chiles is the common man. He's you or me sat there in the studio, shooting the breeze. When "Junior Des" cracks a joke, it sounds like it's been buffed and polished by a team of scriptwriters. He presents the football. Chiles feels it.
Alan Hansen, meanwhile, made his name with astute analyses and come-to-bed eyes. But he's been overtaken by Lee Dixon, who may not be a looker but these days is better on the tactics. And the sparky Gavin Peacock, soon to depart in order to devote himself to Christianity, is infinitely better than the sainted Alan Shearer.
It was staggering to hear Shearer turn down the Blackburn job at half-time during Wednesday's Switzerland-Turkey game "because of my other commitments, namely this one". He could hardly be a worse manager than he is a pundit. Devoid of insight and original thoughts, he contents himself with restating his colleagues' pronouncements. Ian Wright once described himself as "the black Kevin Keegan" – all passion, no tactics. Take away the passion from that equation and you're left with Shearer.
Chiles was absent for the first few days, travelling to Croatia, where his mother was born, in order to march on Austria with the red-and-white chequered legions. In Sunday's filmed sequence he looked oddly unhappy, but I think it was just pre-tournament nerves. In another insert, on Thursday, he visited a psychoanalyst – he was in Vienna, geddit? – for treatment.
"For me," he said, "success is only a prelude to failure" – the true fan's mindset. "Look where we are – we're in Vienna. It was once the centre of the universe, and look what happened. If the history of Vienna tells you anything, it's that you can have it all and then lose everything." Wise words from a long-suffering Baggie.
Apparently, Chiles is often mistaken for Ray Mears, TV's Mr Survival, but he's not the only Euro 2008 lookalike. What about Joachim Löw – Sacha Distel after a night on the ale? And Gordon Strachan – George Bush in a ginger wig? Or Leo Beenhakker – the dear, departed Bill Deedes?
Chiles also holds the world record for the most number of kisses received in 60 seconds, with 78. Gary Lineker, eat your heart out.
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