Lounge wizard feels at home in a new Des res

SPORT ON TV

WEDNESDAY evening provided the nation with one of those rare moments of televisual unity; a state occasion when every member of the household, from Uncle Sid to Snappy the dog, stops whatever it is they are doing and gathers around the family TV. Naturally, it takes something special to bring the country to a standstill: Diana's funeral, the World Cup encounter between England and Argentina, the first screening of Basic Instinct or, in this case, the Return of the Moustachioed One.

Des Lynam made his long-awaited comeback to the small screen, as ITV's new football anchorman, presenting Chelsea's Champions' League match against Milan. And there could have been no brighter stage for such an accomplished performer to tread the boards once more: not only was Lynam fronting a live game of considerable importance for a change, he was also presiding over a feast of sexy football. It may have ended goalless, but the standard of entertainment was mesmerising.

Perhaps we should have expected as much from two of the king of "sexy" football's former clubs. It is just a pity that the dreadlocked one failed to get so much as foreplay going at Newcastle. Had he done so, he may well have been sitting in the studio alongside Des. But Ruud's acrimonious departure from Tyneside and British football as a whole meant the Gullit & Lynam Show, which so captivated during the BBC's coverage of Euro 96, was never likely to return.

It was not all doom and gloom at Stamford Bridge, though, as Lynam was reunited with his old chum, Terry Venables. The former England coach took up his usual role in the "pundit's chair", and actually did some analysing. His new-found energy is no doubt linked to Lynam's probing and pertinent style of questioning, but El Tel is also more relaxed when he is going solo. Few know, or indeed talk about, their subject quite as thoroughly, but Venables has recently had a tendency to switch off and appear uninterested. Being the centre of attention suits him and on Wednesday, he responded with his most polished contribution in months.

But what of Des? How did the master fare in his new surroundings? Well, to coin a sporting phrase, the performance was patchy. The greeting was vintage Lynam: "Seventeen matches to win the thing," he said in his cool, laconic manner. "But you can't phone a friend." Good start. Then came the first real test: a commercial break. Cue fumble. "See you in... a little while," he said almost apologetically. Further confusion arose during the half-time interval: "And now for some brief highlights from the first half of the Valencia-Rangers match. Commentary comes from..." - think Des, think. Trevor Brooking and John Motson? No, no they're the enemy now - "Ian St John and Peter Brackley," Lynam finally announced. Perhaps it was all too much to take in. Even for the silver fox.

Des did get better as the night wore on. Slowly but surely, he settled into the groove. Immediately after the final advertising break, signs of the old Lynam appeared: "I'm getting used to them," he quipped. "I get a cup of tea in." That's more like it, Desmondo.

At the time of his surprise defection from Auntie back in August, his former bosses were quick to point out that Lynam may have left the corporation but he hadn't taken any sports with him. "Match of the Day was a national institution before Des and will continue to be one after his departure," said the head of BBC sport, Bob Shennan, clearly trying to hide his displeasure. The Beeb may indeed hold the rights to that old dinosaur, MOTD, but their coverage of the beautiful game is now virtually extinct.

The Saturday night highlights programme remains for now - until the Premier League rights come up for auction in 2001 - but, of the 11 European ties involving British clubs last week, the BBC could do no better than the first leg of Leeds' Uefa Cup match with Partizan Belgrade.

Optimists will point to the fact that the BBC screened the most emphatic away win of the week, a 3-1 success - secured on Dutch soil as Yugoslavia is still a no-go area. Realists will say this was never going to be a classic, hence the afternoon kick-off. Pessimists, for their part, will simply remind Gary Lineker and Co that the second leg, at Elland Road, will be on Sky. Oops.

Des was probably right to hit Britain's favourite button and switch over to ITV. It may not have been the perfect debut, but he did give the programme a much-needed lift from the charming but wooden Bob Wilson. And by the final whistle, the old twinkle had returned. "Stay up for Gabby [Yorath]," urged Des, raising a chuckle from El Tel.

ITV may have opted for experience over youth, but then Alan Hansen did once tell Des: "You don't win anything with kids."

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum