Sport on TV: BBC 4 fist among equals as commentariat excels

It was the biggest fashion statement in history: Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gloved fists raised on the Olympic podium in Mexico in 1968. Now we all knew about civil rights.

But look at the picture and you will see it wasn't just about the gloves. The excellent Black Power Salute (BBC 4, Wednesday) explained the iconography. Smith and Carlos are shoeless, denoting the poverty of black people in America. They are wearing black socks. Note also Carlos's beads, signifying lynchings; and his jacket is undone, in defiance of Olympic protocol, in honour of blue-collar workers black and white.

The athletes were sent home, of course, while black team-mates who followed them on to the podium came up with varying sartorial responses. The long-jump bronze medallist Ralph Boston went barefoot; Lee Evans, the militant 400 metres winner, led a US 1-2-3 in which they all wore berets – but removed them for "The Star-Spangled Banner". Evans' standing in the black community never recovered.

Bob Beamon, he of the miracle long jump, hoisted his trouser legs to reveal his black socks. Ron Pickering, who later kicked off Private Eye's Colemanballs column with his famous observation regarding legs and class and the area between Alberto Juantorena's legs, had been on hand to deliver another of his best-loved lines. "Oh it's an enormous one! My goodness me, it's an enormous one!"

Simon Hughes has never quite hit such heights, at least not in my hearing, but while Kevin Pietersen was strutting his funky and so very, very English stuff during the first Test at Lord's on Thursday, Five's tactics-truck man had one of those moments commentators must dream about. "He's never a very good starter," he warned as Pietersen struggled briefly to get his eye in. "He usually tries to gallop off on a crazy single to get himself going."

Instantly, cue a rush of blood – "and there he goes for the mad single!" For that, Hughes was Mark Nicholas's man of the day – not an award any right-thinking person wants to be given.

Geoff Boycott, meanwhile, was busy being Geoff Boycott. Pietersen dealt summarily with a short ball. "It wanted swatting and it got it," said the man Yorkshire types used to refer to as "Sir Geoffrey".

I doubt any of them could match Eurosport's David Harmon in the polyglot department. During Tuesday's stage of the Tour de France the successor to the, er, legendary David Duffield performed the wondrous feat – for a Brit – of translating from the Spanish as Jose-Ivan Gutierrez was being interviewed. Nice to see, you thought.

A few minutes later, though, he was at it again, translating from the German with the day's winner, Stefan Schumacher – and then again, from the Italian with Damian Cunego. I defy the best of them – The Great Sid Waddell or even, whisper it, Lord Davies of Barryshire – to match that.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little