Sport on TV: My awards span surrealistic spectrum from 'Heroes' to Beckett
Saturday 29 December 2007
As an old git living in the past I've made a great discovery this year, and it's the highlight of my annual awards beano. In the Newcomer of the Year stakes, Setanta's extravagant Premier League launch is trumped by the retrospective glories of ESPN Classic, a channel devoted to old stuff, often tied to what's happening currently. Objections that it launched in 2006 and is therefore ineligible are rejected.
If I had to pick a single Desert Island moment from the year's output, I'd reluctantly sidestep Cliff Morgan's description of the great Barbarians try for another rugby commentary. It was subtitled and anonymous, from a France-England game in the Fifties, shown in the run-up to the World Cup semis: "Lacroix, this is wonderful! Albadejo! Bouquet! Saux, and Domenech! Gentlemen, that was an historic try! Crauste scores probably the most beautiful try that France have ever scored! Oh, I've no voice left! This is really very, very great rugby! Oh la la! After that we can die happy!"
Honourable newcomer mentions: the commentator Jacqui Oatley, who had the girlie cheek to get herself on Match of the Day. A special bravery award goes to civilisation for not falling, despite predictions from the caveman community. And Inside Sport (BBC1), a proper magazine programme, exactly the kind of thing the BBC should be doing.
The Skippy Award for Bounciest Newcomer goes to Will Greenwood, who's bouncier than a testing session in a bouncy castle factory. Treating the Rugby World Cup like a soft-play area divided opinion, and the antis were vicious, but for me he's a find. A very bouncy find.
The Donald Rumsfeld Award for services to the English language goes to Jamie Redknapp, whose manglings on Sky add hugely to the gaiety of the nation. He's especially strong in the "literally" department: Evra's literally left for dead, time literally stands still for Chopra. It's like an episode of Heroes.
Best WAG Appearance in a reality TV series: Danielle Lloyd, who kept us entertained and appalled as she fell under Jade Goody's, er, spell in Celebrity Big Brother (C4, January). Teddy Sheringham, thinking a couple of passes ahead as always, had dumped her by the time she was out.
Best Commentary was Motty and Lawro during the Croatia car crash last month. Almost lost for words, they were boys from Beckett, surveying the bleakness of existence as hope drained away. I imagine Alan Green, for one, was thundering away on Radio 5 Live, but without trying, Vladimir and Estragon caught the mood perfectly.
The Golden Steering Wheel for getting me watching Formula One, even the qualifying: Fernando Alonso. Only kidding (stop hitting me).
Finally, the annual John McCririck Great Fat Festering Maggot Award goes to Pete Burns' lip implants. The former human being did well to access Neil Ruddock's soft centre in Celebrity Wife Swap (C4, October), but the lips were a vision from a sleazy, druggy nightmare smeared across the screen. Horrifying. Oh, and have a Happy New Year.
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