Book Of The Week: Talking of Sport, by Dick Booth

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The Independent Online

The Buggles were wrong; video didn't kill the radio star, and nor did television, at least as far as sport is concerned. After the first live sports broadcast, the Jack Dempsey-Georges Carpentier heavyweight fight in America in 1921, there was no putting the genie back in the bottle.

In this history of radio commentary Dick Booth focuses on the British experience and has certainly done his homework, though at times the result is a trifle dry – the early BBC days are pored over in gob-stopping detail. But he's a good listener when tracing the evolution of institutions such as 'Test Match Special' and talking to broadcasters, if prone to occasional statements of the bleedin' obvious: "Cricket is a game where the score is central to the commentary." He is also let down by editing lapses: for instance, the Twenties dance band he mentions were the Savoy Orpheans, not Orphans. But the pluses outweigh the minuses; radio good good rather than radio ga ga.