Robin Scott Elliot: White's window on Sky transfer day showed all but told less
Transfer deadline day, Sky Sports News
Monday 05 September 2011
The most disturbing part of Sky Sports News' blanket, duvet and eiderdown coverage of the transfer window was the moment they brought us live coverage of Jim White, a television sports news reader who works for Sky Sports News, arriving at the office. It's the equivalent of the Budget day shot of the Chancellor waving his red box as he leaves No 11 being replaced by live and exclusive film of a random Dimbleby waiting for a No 33 bus to take him into Television Centre.
But it was not the footage of White coming through a door and walking up some stairs that best summed it all up, it was that this moment, an employee arriving at his place of employment, was considered so pivotal it featured on the following day's "best of" montage. Where were you when Jim White came to work?
Sky Sports News is a world where irony is someone who has a leaning towards West Ham. The channel is a thrusting part of today's junk-food culture, the desire for immediate gratification and it provides it on transfer deadline day quicker than Robbie Keane can say "I always dreamt of playing for [insert club name here]". White is the father figure for Sky Sports News presenters. When he's not on air he can be found at their cloning facility near their Isleworth HQ advising on what suit to wear, the ideal cleavage line for high digital transmission and passing on ready-made quips to link seamlessly into ad breaks.
White and I go way back. He used to present Scotsport, straight after Glen Michael's Cartoon Cavalcade on a Sunday afternoon (there's a Scottish football joke in there somewhere), where he made his name asking Rangers players searching questions along the lines of "Why are you so good?" If White were to interview his channel – it could happen – that is the sort of question he would demand an answer to. At one point on deadline day, an email from Sky arrived offering pictures of their presenters in action as the confusion between the story and its delivery grew ever more muddled. They may have offered us Peter Crouch at one point as well.
The plum role on the year's biggest day has become the grassy knoll outside Tottenham's training ground. A car drove in. A car drove out. "Was it Kaka, Harry?" "No," said Harry. Back in the studio, White wondered: "Do you believe Harry?" "No," said Dave Bassett, who looked as if he had just polished off a plate of lemons. Poor Harry. Redknapp is the one manager who always stops to talk and then he promptly has his honesty doubted. There was a Thatcher (Margaret, not Ben) moment at Tottenham when Redknapp appeared in the background during a live report and climbed into his car. "He's behind you," yelled White at the reporter. The car started and stopped. Harry got out and got back in. Seatbelt problems.
What deadline day did suggest is an easy and cost-effective way to combat any future rioting by our young people who like to sport hooded leisurewear. If trouble is brewing Sky Sports News camera crews could be stationed outside football grounds. Before the reporters had time to reveal that they understood club sources could or could not confirm something, there would be a boisterous crowd of happily gurning teenagers, ringing their mates, who message their mates to tell them their mate is on telly. Or failing that Bassett could chuck lemons at them.
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