Gascoigne's extraordinary life on video


Paul Gascoigne was facing a predictable chorus of disapproval last night as details were released of a new documentary from the people who gave the world the Graham Taylor's catchphrase "Do I not like that".

Chrysalis Productions, who made a name for themselves with the fly-on- the-wall film about Taylor's ill-fated reign as England manager, somehow managed to persuade the player they describe as "the most famous man in Britain" to be the subject of similar scrutiny, recording a year in his life from when he returned from Lazio to join Rangers.

Judging from the transcript, Gazza's Coming Home, which will be broadcast on Channel 4 on 7 October, should make fascinating viewing but Gascoigne is going to have to put up with some familiar criticism, concentrating mainly on his remarks in the film about drinking, given the recent revelations of England's Euro 96 captain, Tony Adams, concerning his alcoholism.

The worst of it appears to be in answer to a question about whether British clubs encourage players to drink to improve team spirit. "I would say that definitely," Gascoigne replies.

"We certainly do that at Rangers. You know if everything's going well they keep, you know, obviously take everyone out on the drink and, er, get drunk for a couple of days, and er, we go to the races or we have a game of golf. And that does keep the spirit together."

The thought of the Rangers players getting drunk for a couple of days does indeed boggle the mind, and is likely to have the gossip-merchants hard at it for a while but, if it is accepted that the Scottish champions of the past eight years are not likely to be a bunch of alcoholics, there are passages of greater interest.

Soon after Gascoigne joined Rangers he naively acquiesced to a request from the supporters by playing an imaginary flute in the style of "The Sash", the Loyalist anthem which is the Rangers' fans' favourite way to offend their rivals from Celtic.

"I waved to them. I didn't know what it meant, and one of the other guys - I'm not gonna drop him in it - um, Ian Ferguson, said um, he said it's that. So, um, I said, oh. That's right, so I just went like that. And the - the, um - they gave a roar. So I didn't think - no one said anything about it, I didn't know anything about it.

"I scored the goal, I've done the old action, and er - after that it was just unbelievable. People just wanted to kill us. They were actually going barmy...You know one guy - one guy just stopped his car and he just looked and he said 'Gazza,' he said, 'er, you just watch what you're doing up here, be careful, mate. And I went 'oh, alright, cheers mate'. I though it was... and he went, 'because I'll slash your effing throat.' Oh - and er I mean the training session didn't go too well that day..."

Much of the time is devoted to Gascoigne's attempts to make his audience understand what it is like being so famous, and there are the usual tirades against the press and monologues about periods of depression and his on- off relationship with his wife, Sheryl, including the story of how he missed his son's birth owing to a prior drinking arrangement.

Far more amusing is a conversation with John Greig, the former Rangers player and now the club's PR executive, concerning his son's conception.

Greig: "And you've been busy by the looks of things."

Gazza: "Aye, right, aye."

Greig: "Sheryl's expecting."

Gazza: "Oh aye."

Greig: "Oh, was that - where did that - where did she conceive that?"

Gazza: "Um I don't know."

Greig: "You don't know... You've been that many places in the last few months."

Gazza: "No, no I'm just trying to think where. Er, it might have been, er, Sardinia, I don't know."