Sky's gruelling feast brings on indigestion

Sport on TV

IT IS not entirely derogatory to compare Sky Sports with junk food. On the plus side, it is always available, it has an umistakeable flavour and quality is consistent. On the minus side, it is not always good value for money, the flavour is not always palatable and, above all, too much of it at once can leave the viewer feeling queasy. Watching Sky's Champions of Sport was like eating four Big Hot Juicy Ones, a pound of fries and a chain of onion rings and washing the lot down with a gallon of cola-style beverage.

Ronnie Corbett and Jon Bon Jovi, Ken Morley in a sequinned jacket, Soul II Soul and a bucketload of dry ice, "The Sun Sexiest Footballer", the "Star Bar", the Barmy Army . . . burp.

It wasn't really about sport at all: sport was the excuse for a glitzy, noisy, down-market variety show. But that is the Sky message: sport is entertainment. Russ Williams, the host, gave the game away when he congratulated Colin Montgomerie for the efforts of the Ryder Cup team: "Thanks Colin. Thrilling television." Never mind the golf.

Williams had two things to worry about: the audience, who were fuelled on Carling Black Label, unruly and occasionally abusive, led on by the eternally irritating Barmy Army; and his script, which was chock-a-block with asides of the "Birdies, eh? Phwoar!" species. Perhaps this was why he looked at the Autocue as if it might bite him.

Up in the Star Bar, Andy Gray was the chief celebrity interviewer, a task he appeared to relish not a bit. Andy didn't need a drink, he needed his Telestrator, and you had to feel sorry for the man: as a variety show host, he makes a pretty good match analyst.

Needless to say, the event was religiously dedicated to sports covered by Sky: no mention of Jonathan Edwards, say, or Damon Hill. Was the award for Unsung Heroes to be a consolation gong for those sporting unfortunates whose lot it is to entertain the dishless? No, it was for fishermen, ultra- endurance runners and wind-surfers: a nice touch, but hardly enough to render the event comprehensive.

Another key problem was the absence of many of the award-winners. For a satellite station, Sky seem to be oddly unaware of the availability of satellite link-ups for award ceremonies. So Ian Wright collected an award for Tony Yeboah (with commendable good grace), Henry Cooper, for some reason, pocketed one for Nick Faldo, and Prince Naseem Hamed, who had already collected two awards for himself, trousered Sky Sports Champion on behalf of Frank Bruno.

Sylvester Stallone had flown over to present the latter, the evening's top award, which made you wonder why they couldn't have got Big Frank an air ticket too. Whatever the explanation, the evening was more schlocky than Rocky, and a severe case of televisual indigestion had set in by the time Gerry Marsden arrived to serenade the audience with "You'll Never Walk Alone". With uncanny prescience, large chunks of the audience had anticipated Gerry's message and walked out, taking their mates with them.

Sly showed up again in Rocky II (BBC 1) looking younger and sounding dumber, and one half- expected Naz to pop up next to him at ringside, so chummy had they seemed on Sunday night. Perhaps, as they left the London Arena stage arm-in-arm, they were chatting about a film version of Naz's career, to star a surgically reduced Stallone, and to be titled - what else? - Cocky.

Stallone's performance was not the most manly of the week in a sports movie: that award goes to Vanessa Redgrave, for her extraordinary portrayal of the sex-change tennis star Renee Richards (formerly Richard Radley) in Second Serve (C4). There may have been elements of characterisation that lacked commitment - her backhand, for example - but she put every ounce of effort into the scene in which Richard comes round in hospital after the Big Snip. It brought tears to the eyes.

More macho behaviour on Eurosport, who took us to Rachau in Switzerland. In this neck of the woods, according to Off-Road, it is considered butch to ride a motorbike at full speed up a steep mountain, fall off it, and slide all the way back down to the bottom again, usually followed by what is left of the bike.

This doomed exercise in gravity-defiance goes down very well with the Swiss spectators, some of whom stand so close to the action that the descending riders and vehicles actually pass over their heads. The insanely macho stand at the point of no return (generally, it seemed, about 100 metres up the mountainside), where bike and rider part company and the subsequent trajectory of both is least predictable.

Picture the scene at a breakfast table in the Bernese Oberland: "It's a lovely day, liebling. When I have finished my muesli I shall go and stand on a mountainside until decapitated by a Ducati." Clearly, Sky does not have a monopoly on unsung heroes.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: General Manager

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of global logisti...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager - £70,000 OTE

£35000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Manager (Vice President...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Marketing Executive i...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable