Sport on TV: Karate killers chop up Alliss in Blunderland

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The Independent Online
LET ME see - there was Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin of course, and Mr Waverley cutting a Matt Busby dash, plus Telly Savalas, Terry-Thomas, Joan Crawford in her last MGM movie and that boyish woman who was in True Grit with John Wayne. Herbert Lom played the villain hunting for a formula to convert seawater into gold (the screenplay was presumably based on an arcane medieval text).

It was called (the film, not the arcane medieval text) Karate Killers and it was one of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. spin-offs from the Sixties. Although it seemed all right when I was a kid, it is quite possibly the worst film ever made. And in a ham-fisted, karate-chop piece of BBC2 scheduling on Thursday, it was inserted like a smack in the teeth right in the middle of the British Women's Open golf from Woburn.

There was, admittedly, a sporting element to the movie - a sequence in which Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, in a proleptic foreshadowing of Geena Davis's recent archery exploits, try out for the US shooting team (pistol-from-back-of-moving-sports-car category). But can you imagine the outcry if the epic struggle at Carnoustie a few weeks ago had been bisected by a film so bad I couldn't stop watching?

Clearly, women's golf is nowhere near as popular as the men's version - beyond Laura Davies, most people would struggle to name its principal exponents. Se Ri Pak, the South Korean phenom, has been ripping up courses much in the manner of Tiger Woods when he first came out fighting, yet she enjoys about the same global profile as Mangotsfield United's reserve left-back.

Having said all that and registered my PC objections, it must be observed that there was a glum, dour feel to proceedings, exacerbated by the eclipse- like gloom. Peter Alliss didn't help early on with his assiduous attention to the shortcomings of the distaff game - "They're not good at getting close to the hole with seven, eight and nine-irons," he opined, "and their putting isn't brilliant." Still, they try, don't they, the silly, fluffy things?

But he was right - the putting was dreadful. I wasn't paying attention every second, but in the two hours I did watch I failed to see a putt sunk from more than a club's length. Interest was sparked when it emerged that Helen Alfredsson's boyfriend is a Mexican international footballer, Leo Cuera, who often caddies for her. But none of it could persuade me that my afternoon wasn't better spent nipping down the Tate to catch up on the "Abracadabra" exhibition (where I saw kids and grown-ups taking equal delight in playing the world's longest table football game).

One sport that has been holding the attention this summer (but only between midnight and dawn) has been the baseball on Channel 5. They've been going run crazy in the States for a while, and C5 have averaged over 11 runs a game. On Wednesday, Houston Astros were at Atlanta, where it was already 5-3 by the third inning.

Astros pitcher Jose Lima, a great hulking menace of a man who looks like he should be getting on the wrong side of Andy Sipowicz in NYPD Blue, was having the most trouble - he couldn't get to his change-ups because they were hitting his fastballs, apparently - and pretty soon the pitching coach was out on the mound.

Can you imagine how humiliating that must feel? What it must do to the confidence? "Help!" blared over the PA - put on deliberately, presumably.

What a shame our football grounds don't do the same. Imagine: "I'm a wonderful thing" when Paul Ince is strutting round the park; "War (what is it good for?)" when Roy Keane goes over the top; "The End" when Manchester City concede another last-minute goal ("Lost in a romance/wild-erness of pain"). Or "Norwegian Wood" when Tore Andre Flo misses a sitter.

I missed a sitter last week, when pushing Sir Barry Davies as the new Des Lynam. In my giddiness I forgot to mention Plan B, in the event the Beeb decide Bazza's all-round skills behind the camera can't be dispensed with (he is the Renaissance Man of commentators, after all).

On more or less alternate Saturdays, I appear on the BBC's News 24 service banging on about the weekend sport, usually in the company of the urbane David Robertson, who could fill the Lynam role perfectly. A biker, he likes his sport, and it was lovely a few weeks ago to see the pleasure with which he was anticipating interviewing Carl Fogarty at Brands Hatch for Radio Five Live the next day. BBC executives look no further than under your own noses- and my commission's 10 per cent.

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