View From The Sofa: Professor Lamps leads the way for Chelsea's very own 'Horrible Histories'
The British/Road to Glory, Sky
Monday 24 September 2012
It is not difficult to see why the Peasants' Revolt strikes such a chord within the Chelsea dressing room. Frank Lampard believes that at its heart was the natural, native distrust the people of Essex hold for anyone in authority. Ashley Cole readily identified with its driving purpose – a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. And John Terry, of course, was there.
The latter two clearly have strong cases to make as the go-to-guys to act as talking heads on the revolt of 1381. Instead the producers of The British, Sky's shiny new seminal (in their dreams) series about the history of these islands, turned to Lamps. There you go – class-ridden Britain, the privately educated get the nod as usual.
Lampard has only popped up once so far – he trails well behind Russell Brand (who knew the West Ham enthusiast was such an avid admirer of Francis Drake?), Terry Wogan (ditto the printing press) Helen Mirren and Ken Follett – but hopefully he will not be the last footballer to let us know how we got where we are today, and it is surely obligatory to have an Olympian somewhere in the mix.
I believe Paul Scholes comes later in the series, on how the Industrial Revolution transformed the North-west, plus there's an erratic cameo from Alan Hutton identifying the role sugar played in Glasgow's rapid expansion and, best of all, Terry on his time as a suffragette.
Sky is due a degree of credit for at least spending money, and this series cannot have come cheap, on new programmes, especially a series that is not an obvious ratings winner. Which no doubt explains the lowest common denominator decision not to trust the subject matter and use celebrity to reassure us that, hey, history can be fun. It treats its prospective audience with contempt and is a drainingly depressing snapshot of today's media culture.
A much better offering from Sky comes in Road to Glory. Clearly, setting up your own team is going to bring with it impressive access, but nonetheless this is an eye-opening series that follows Bradley Wiggins and Co through a year British cycling will never better.
For the wannabe cycling aficionado it is the perfect in-depth introduction to the sport. Last week we finally arrived in France for the Tour and Wiggins' moment of history, but the moment of this episode came not in Paris but halfway up a mountain somewhere to the south of the capital.
Chris Froome, effectively Wiggins' butler on wheels, suddenly broke away during one of the race's crippling climbs. In the Sky support car there was a look of utter bafflement on the faces of Dave Brailsford and Sean Yates, the brains behind the team. This was not according to the script and if there is one thing this series shows it is how much Team Sky stick to their lines – and successfully so.
It didn't last – Froome soon remembered himself – but there was obvious tension in the camp afterwards and Brailsford's team talk the next morning offered Froome several reminders of his expected place in their race.
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