Robin Scott-Elliot: After nuzzling Fergie, Newbon has really gone to the dogs

View From The Sofa: Greyhound Racing/Football, Sky Sports

Remember last week? It was all about nostalgia with Sky Sports turning 20, an event they marked with the understatement accorded to a royal wedding, with Richard Keys and Andy Gray awarded the Prince Philip memorial role in being kept out of sight, or more importantly hearing. And who should pop up in the middle of it all but Gary Newbon, the doyen of touchline reporters. It's like having Jennie Bond back.

Remember Gary Newbon? The intrepid Newbon used to corner Alex Ferguson at half-time in Champions League games and demand to know on behalf of ITV viewers exactly why United were playing so darn well. Quite how he came to present greyhound racing on Sky Sports 34 HD I'm not sure, and for how long he has had this plum gig I'm not sure either, not being a regular dog follower (doggee?) or interested enough to Google it.

I know he is the face of You're on Sky Sports, but that is a programme no-one should ever be reduced to watching, or at least admitting to watching. The lack of goals, and the unmissable Ray Wilkins in the commentary box, at St James' Park on Tuesday night led to a second-half channel hop and there was Newbon, filling the screen and talking, with arresting authority if characteristic lack of animation, about his bitches.

"They're all bitches," said Newbon trackside at Hall Green (which offers, according to their website, one of Birmingham's most exciting and different nights out). This was (un)fortunately not another Keysandgraygate – Newbon is a sage old pro. He was talking to a man about a dog. But between the two of them there was a slightly schoolboyish air of being able to use a naughty word without getting into trouble, although perhaps that was just me.

"She's a fantastic bitch," said a man from the Racing Post. "All bitches," said Newbon again just to underline the point of the race as he handed over to the commentary team.

This being Sky, this was not a one man and, ahem, his dog operation. Five different faces, all with names like Smudger, appeared in front of camera. Again, being Sky, they all knew their stuff, or sounded like they did. Wilkins knows his stuff, although that is also something of a presumption as his punditry is a little lacking when it comes to actually offering an insight. But he makes up for it in other ways.

Thankfully he was back in business for the north London derby; I have to admit to a developing obsession with Wilkins, who is beginning to look like the crustacean after which he was harshly nicknamed during his playing career, albeit a very courteous crab.

The appeal of Wilkins is not what he says, rather how he says it. He comes across as always admirably polite and nice (which is not meant as a Yes Ministeresque damning compliment – not entirely). Politeness and niceness pervade his commentary. He likes to use first names wherever possible – apart from Szczesny, but he can be excused that on pronunciation grounds as the Pole's surname is marginally easier to grasp than Wojciech.

He is a bland master of the studied obvious but clothes it with an earnestness that has you nodding wisely in agreement before realising he's got you. "That was some team those Invincibles," he suggested. He also uses words like "atmospherically" which, added to his other skillsets, makes him the ideal man to comment on the wedding, another first-name event that must be accepted without question.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade