Sport on TV: Glimmer of moon light and a play on words

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The Independent Online
An apology: we may previously have given the impression that Under The Moon, Channel 4's new late-night televised sports phone-in, was a giant, squawking, flatulent turkey. We may further have suggested that one of the presenters, Tim Clark, delighted in a Narcissus complex, while the other, Danny Kelly, was as relaxed as a tightrope. We would now like to withdraw those sentiments and acknowledge that the Moonies achieved something of a scoop last week by (a) locating Peter Radford and (b) asking him questions, something that the print media had failed to accomplish.

The capture of the outgoing chief executive of the British Athletics Federation may not have been unconnected with the contract that the BAF have signed with Channel 4 to show British athletics, a deal that was plugged relentlessly on the show - but that is a minor quibble. There was Radford, "Live by satellite from Birmingham", no expenses spared: time for some tough questioning.

Danny Kelly was the chief interrogator. "Brendan Foster and David Moorcroft have been saying that the sport is in an unsolvable mess," he noted. "Is it all so bad?" Gently does it - if Paxman is a rottweiler, Kelly is the Andrex puppy.

Not surprisingly, Radford, who looks like he might be Mr Spock's dad, danced around the question. Steeling himself, Kelly popped the big one. "Peter, a lot of people will want me to ask you," get on with it, "if there is so much going on," go on, "so much to be dealt with just now," you know you can do it, "we're coming to an important time again," yes, Danny, yes, tens of insomniacs are willing you on, "why is it you've chosen to quit?" Phew.

After all that, Radford said: "Well, I haven't actually chosen to quit in that sense at all," which was a bit of a let-down. The full Vulcan- logic explanation went like this. "What I've actually, um, announced, is that I have taken, um, another position that was offered to me, which is exciting, at Brunel University, and I wanted to do that. I actually think that the sport is in good shape, you see. Um, I don't think that all of this doom and gloom is justified. I think it is very easy to press that doom and gloom button, and I don't think it is justified, I honestly don't."

That was the moment for Kelly to say: "Hang on. Just what is it about Brunel University that is exciting? The food? The architecture? The laundry arrangements? What is the enticing factor that makes an academic appointment there a step up from being chief executive of the BAF? Or is it in fact the case that any job, even a job involving buckets, brooms and the elephant house at London Zoo, would have been preferable to staying on at the BAF?"

Instead Kelly grumbled about us not winning any athletics gold medals in Atlanta, which was a valid point, but the moment was gone.

To be fair to Kelly, a knowledgeable chap, he did push Radford later on about the timing of his departure. But there was a definite whiff of the kid-glove about the whole encounter. For instance, when "Ian from Jersey", a caller, ended a diatribe about the Diane Modahl affair with the ringing denunciation "Good riddance to Peter Radford, and I hope they get someone better looking after the BAF", Kelly leapt in before Radford could respond to rephrase the question. "Well, Peter, I think the point there is probably that there has been a PR presentation problem with the BAF." Dead right: the letters stand for Peter Radford.

The whole exercise was a vast improvement on the programme's chaotic first episode. If they can continue to attract interesting guests, and treat them with a little less respect, the show may end up being worth the wait up. But in case you think we've gone soft, Kelly still looks like a myopic guppy, and Clark like something that ought to be hanging off a rear-view mirror.

World Cup Hall of Fame (Sky) is a nice idea marred by a strange decision. The programme, as you might guess, showcases a different international football hero every week, and features clips of their finest matches. All well and good, except that the original soundtrack has been wiped and revoiced.

So in last week's programme about Eusebio, the black and white footage of the game between Brazil and Portugal in 1966 was described not by the clipped tones of Kenneth Wolstenholme or the avuncular warble of Hugh Johns, but by the altogether more strident Martin Tyler.

It just sounds all wrong, and it is. When Tyler said: "All the early signs here are that it's going to be a difficult game for the holders of the World Cup," he was not sitting in Goodison Park on 16 July 1966, but sitting in a studio at a later date. On the day in question 30 years ago, all the early signs were that Tyler was about to fill a nappy.

Only an absolute anorak would lose sleep over this kind of thing - after all, the skills on display are the point of the programme, not their description - but nevertheless there is an element of suspense. What are they going to do when they get to Geoff Hurst, and the 1966 World Cup final? What will Tyler say at the moment of truth? We think it's all over-dubbed - it will be then.

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