Lounge wizard feels at home in a new Des res - Sport - The Independent

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."

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
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

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week