Natural born thriller all bright on the night

Sport on TV
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Fans of the chat show Clive Anderson All Talk (BBC1) will know that guests of the voluble former barrister often find it hard to get a word in edgeways. This was not the case last week, when Clive played host to the Arsenal striker Ian Wright. It was, to borrow a theatrical phrase, all Wright on the night.

He cut a relaxed figure, in typically restrained attire: Natural Born Killers T-shirt, black leather track- suit, and sneakers so high-tech that they can probably receive E-mail. "I got dressed up for it tonight," he disarmingly admitted. "Special occasion and that."

It was certainly a special occasion for Anderson, a keen Arsenal fan. Clive is hyperactive in his calmest moments, and the proximity of such a hero had him leaping around in his seat like a toddler in a baby-bouncer. Clearly, we weren't in for one of his typical character- assassination jobs tonight.

Wrong. Anderson is a pro, and adoration did not prevent him from whipping out the rapier pretty smartish. "So, look, you were a late starter in the game - 22, 23," he opened up, affably enough. "What happened, weren't you any good?"

Grinning broadly to reveal one of Britain's best-known sets of teeth, Wright conceded that he had, as a youth, had something of an attitude problem. This it was, he said, that caused Brighton and Hove Albion to reject him at 19. "It's unfortunate where they are lying now," Wright said, fighting manfully to repress the megawatt smile. I wouldn't like to say anything like 'Ha, Ha, Ha'." So the audience said it for him.

Via a swift and scurrilous discussion of the dangers of abbreviating the first name of the Arsenal manager, the conversation moved on to the dietary revolution that "Arse" is leading at Highbury. "Grilled fish," Wright intoned without relish. "Grilled steak. Everything's grilled," he sighed, adding incredulously - as well he might - "grilled broccoli." Wenger is clearly one tough cook.

Worse still has been the new manager's strictures on his players' refuelling habits. "We have to drink water all the time," Wright revealed, dealing a further blow to the north London licensed trade, already reeling from the wagon-jumping antics of Messrs Merson and Adams.

Wright is one of a growing band of current footballers - led by Ally McCoist and Vinnie Jones - who see their future in television presentation. Wright fancies "anything that I can do that I can get my personality out of", which rules out, on two counts, a career as an expert on English grammar. Also out, Alan Hansen and Jimmy Hill will be relieved to hear, is punditry. "I can't see myself doing something like Match of the Day, 'Oh, yes, I'm going to sit on this fence and not say nothing about anybody'." Just as well, perhaps: it would be a shame to spoil a nice leather tracksuit by catching it on a splinter from a BBC fence.

One Arsenal player who has made the switch to broadcasting with varying degrees of success - depending on whether you speak to his viewers or his bank manager - is Bob Wilson, who bumbled amiably through ITV's coverage of The Champions' League on Wednesday night.

Sitting next to Brian Moore in the commentary box was Kevin Keegan (or, as Wilson put it, "Kevin Keegle"). Here was a great chance to hear from Manchester United's recent vanquisher some fascinating insights about the strengths and weaknesses of Alex Ferguson's side. Instead we got a puzzling treatise on caged birds.

"He's the kind of player who really gives his manager canaries," he opined, as a Fenerbahce man attempted to dribble out of defence. "I'll bet Rustu was giving his interpreter a canary there." Can we nail this fad right now? What managers have is kittens. The only exception of the caged song- bird variety is Mike Walker of Norwich. Mr Keegle please note.

Kevin had run out of avian similes by the time that the Bosnian Elvir Bolic scored. "He can't speak Turkey," the Newcastle manager observed, "but you can tell he's delighted." You don't speak Turkey, of course, you talk it. What Keegan talks is something quite different, that almost rhymes with Bolic.

This Sporting Life (Channel 4) was a collection of short films along vaguely sporting themes: kleptomaniac football fans in Marseilles, homicidal middle-distance runners - the usual knockabout stuff. Oddest of all in a pretty odd field was Dog Days, a Royal College of Art production, the story of an alien being stranded at Walthamstow dog track. His accumulator was nixed in the last race, which just goes to show that the mug punter is not confined to planet Earth.

Lastly, a message to those in power at Sky. Well done for showing the World Series baseball live. Next time, though, could you try not to interrupt the final, nerve-mangling game for half an hour of fatuous motorcycle racing? You've got three sports channels - for goodness' sake work out how to use them.