Matt Gatward: Smithy is funny but Collymore's specs are hilarious
The View From The Sofa: Europa League/Sport Relief five/BBC1
Monday 22 March 2010
Football coverage on Channel Five, or Five as they insist on being called these days – like Smithy, they know it works better to go by a single name – was cringe-inducingly bad when it first hit the air. Cheap sets, tacky graphics and John Barnes mumbling like Amy Winehouse used to make for a painful evening's viewing.
Not any more. Things have progressed nicely down Five way if Thursday's coverage of Liverpool against Lille in the Europa League was anything to go by. Barnes has been moved on and Colin Murray hosts the coverage, proving that a trained presenter does a better job of presenting than a trained footballer (Murray would not be allowed to play up front for Aston Villa, would he? Although if Emile Heskey can, maybe he's got a chance).
Pat Nevin does a fine turn as the half-time-full-time analyst, mixing tactical insight with a wee bit of gentle humour and banter (although why he borrows Channel 4 Cricket's video truck is never explained). And Dave Woods (formerly the BBC's rugby league man) and John Scales (formerly Liverpool's central defender) make a decent double act in the commentary box, both remaining largely cliché-free and aware of the ebb and flow of the action.
If Scales had shown such tactical nous during his playing days, maybe Liverpool's wait for a league title would have come to a halt during his spell at Anfield.
Of course, it wasn't seamless. Stan Collymore is Five's man in the studio alongside Murray and has mastered the art of saying little that isn't predictable. Although, in truth, it was hard to take in anything he said during the half-hour match build-up (during which time there were no fewer than an incredible five advert breaks) as it was impossible not to stare agog at his new Dennis Taylor-style specs. Fabio Capello he ain't. Thankfully, somebody from the Five crew – presumably after they had picked themselves up from the studio floor where they'd been rolling around clutching their sides – must have asked Stan to ditch the bins because by half-time they'd disappeared, leaving us to hang on his every word. (Thinking about it, maybe he should have left them on.)
The whole Five team are also unashamedly pro the British clubs competing in Europe (more supporters than reporters). It would grate if it were just favouritism but there is a whiff of desperation too, as Five know elimination for Liverpool and Fulham knocks Five from their football perch for another season as well. It's always better to bow out gracefully.
Should David Beckham's Achilles injury force him to bow out there will always be a career in acting after his role in Smithy's Sport Relief sketch on Friday. Becks and Smithy (James Corden of Gavin and Stacey fame) share flower-arranging, a bubble bath, a bed and each other's pyjamas during the skit, in which Smithy wins Coach of the Year Award on Sports Personality night. Tom Daley is splashed in the face, Andy Murray is smashed at tennis.
Smithy's rant at the gathering of sports stars and their loss of focus is priceless. Coe, Flintoff, Redgrave, Radcliffe, Giggs all play along in good spirit. To Flintoff: "Gonna stop playing now, Freddie, cos your knee's a bit poorly? Your [drinking] arm's OK, though, isn't it?" To Coe: "Look who it is. Bet you're pleased with yourself with your 2012 and your lordship. I remember when you were just a runner mugging off Steve Ovett."
If you missed it, download it from iTunes. Mugged off you won't be since the £3 heads to Sport Relief.
Latest in Sport
England 29 Wales 18 match report: Stuart Lancaster's men enjoy their day in the sun at expense of weary Wales
Ashley Cole and Luke Shaw rise to the bait to deny they are the rumoured 'gay England footballer'
Chelsea 4 Tottenham 0 match report: Samuel Eto’o stoops to conquer sorry Spurs
FA Cup semi-final draw: Arsenal to meet Wigan Athletic at Wembley, Hull paired with Sheffield United
Arsenal 4 Everton 1 match report: Revitalised Mesut Özil breathes life into Arsenal
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 3 Dear 'The Sun', breast cancer isn't sexy
- 4 Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
- 5 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...