Sport on TV: Commonwealth Games - Building the future to get Glasgow back on track


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The Independent Online

At the start of Commonwealth City (BBC Scotland, Monday) we see a lad cycling backwards while drinking a can of beer. In this three-part series about the impact of the Commonwealth Games on Dalmarnock in the deprived East End of Glasgow, should we assume this is a new sport being showcased in the Games? Another teenager describes the area as a “decrepit shithole”, then sprints off at an impressive speed. Clearly he has a talent for running away.

There is a serious concern behind all this, that residents in the area have a life expectancy 10 years less than the British average. The Games probably won’t inspire them to lead a more healthy lifestyle but the £2 billion to be spent in regenerating the area over the next 20 years will have an impact, with a thousand new houses to be built and jobs aplenty in an area with 70 per cent unemployment.

What’s left of the old housing is being torn down to make way for the stadium and velodrome. When some “suit” rocks up at a local primary school to show the kids an aerial view of the proposed site he asks: “Does anyone see their home in this photograph?” Several children raise their hands excitedly. He is probably thinking, well you won’t see them much longer.

You cannot help having sympathy for Margaret Jacorinelli as she tries to stop the council breaking in to serve a Compulsary Purchase Order on her flat. Her husband Jack is spoiling for a fight. “The British Government is allowing this in this day and age so arseholes can run around in shorts for two weeks,” he says. Let’s just hope the Commonwealth Games can help to distribute some wealth to the common people. Otherwise they are more meaningless than ever.

As the Beeb paid tribute to The Quite Remarkable David Coleman (BBC1, Wednesday), it was hard to reconcile the contribution of that doyen of sports presenters with that of the misogynistic preener John Inverdale. Coleman, whose memorial service was held last week, was not only a consummate professional and an arch enthusiast rolled into one, but he was also courageous.

As if his extraordinary seven-hour solo broadcast during the 1972 Munich hostage crisis was not enough, with little information to go on except for frightening images and even worse imaginings, he once had the Colemanballs to invite the Duke of Edinburgh into the Grandstand studio for a live broadcast. Now that really is brave.

Inverdale excused his remarkably base line about Marion Bartoli not being a “looker” at last year’s Wimbledon by blaming it on hay fever this week. He doesn’t sound like the man for a crisis. And today he begins his stint on ITV covering the French Open alongside Bartoli. He better have some new balls because a volley of abuse might not coming his way.

Coleman, who was not averse to dishing out a tongue-lashing to his colleagues, was also celebrated for his uncompromising interview style. When the veteran journalist Lynn Barber was fêted by Auntie Beeb on The Culture Show (BBC1, Monday) she said she was appalled when she met Rafa Nadal that the Spanish tennis star was having a massage covered in only a towel. How rude, she opined, to treat a woman like that. Surely the lady protests too much. Coleman would have suggested that she knuckle down and get her hands dirty.