Sport on TV: Moore is less on Boycott's interview

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GREG CHAPPELL tells the quintessential Geoff Boycott story. The English were Down Under, trying to work out the mysteries of the spinner, John Gleeson. "He doesn't know the trouble he caused us," says Boycott. Basil D'Oliveira was out in the middle with Boycs when he finally began to make some runs off Gleeson. He gleefully told his colleague how he'd finally deciphered the bowler's action.

"I worked it out in the second Test," Boycott replied. "But don't tell those buggers in the dressing room."

This was always the main charge against the notoriously self-willed run machine: Boycott was never, to put it mildly, a team man. "He thinks of nobody else in the world," judged his old Yorkshire team-mate, Don Wilson, in The Life And Loves Of Geoffrey Boycott (ITV, Monday).

It is only fair to mention, by the way, that Boycott vehemently denied in the programme that the episode ever took place. Still, there was a lengthy queue forming behind Wilson to have a pop.

"He's got lots of acquaintances but no friends," said Ray Illingworth. "He was a selfish man - he came first, second and third," added Brian Close. "I've had a few business dealings with him, and it wasn't a pleasant experience," warned Tony Grieg. Perhaps the strangest, most damning verdict came from Arthur Connell, the then Yorkshire president when Boycott was sacked as county captain, having led Yorkshire on a giddy slide towards the bottom of the pile.

"It is nothing to do with what Mr Boycott has done or not done," Connell announced. "It is to do with what he is." Get out of that.

To be fair to Boycott, he admitted his failings as a captain, and was regretful about the entire saga: "It was a lot of torment, real torment, and I wish I'd never taken it on."

The timing of the programme was slightly curious, coming not long after the second court hearing in France concerning his alleged assault on his former girlfriend, Margaret Moore, and a few weeks before the judge gives her verdict. It would have made more sense, surely, to wait until then.

Boycott's principal rebuttal of Moore's accusations was imaginative: "I couldn't hold a woman with one hand and hit her with the other," he protested. "I've got very small hands." And besides, he said, "I'm a strong man - if I'd hit her 20 times she'd have been taken out on a stretcher."

It seemed odd not to have Moore on to present her side of the story, though there were snatches of her on daytime TV (I found myself fascinated by her mouth, slightly misshapen in exactly the same manner as Boycott's). Perhaps she didn't want any more to do with the whole business - or did Boycott not want her on the programme?

It is also interesting that all Boycott's women look similar - the same well-tended, big-haired respectability. It would have been instructive to see a picture of his mother as a younger woman; I suspect they all look like her.

Interviewed by Trevor MacDonald (who kept on his serious face throughout the film, as if to emphasise that this was not to be a hagiography), Boycott mounted an increasingly vigorous defence, painting a picture of a lying, cheating, gold-digging lush. "She drank a lot," he said, "champagne, red wine, white wine." And though she paraded herself as something of a jet- set tycoon, he said, "it was all on tick... she saw me as a way out."

He wanted to know the reasons why she stayed for a further two days with him before doing anything about the alleged incident, and then returned to England with him having already consulted a lawyer behind his back. "I was naive," he said. "I was taken for a ride. She was a conwoman. I think she set me up for money."

Though this made for good television, the fact that Moore was not given the chance to speak for herself seriously compromised the programme's integrity. Still, as Tony Grieg, put it, musing on Boycott's general success with women, "he might just be a magnificent lover."

Speaking of which, Seinfeld has returned to BBC2 (Tuesday, only about five years behind the rest of the world), and the eponymous funnyman with a bank balance the size of Boycott's ego was dating a Russian gymnast.

"I can balance in any position," she told him as his eyes lit up. "But it's only useful in gymnastics."

He was more than a little crestfallen, and gave her low marks for artistic impression.

"Frankly, I thought I was going to be, like, the apparatus," he told his No 2 sidekick, Elaine, later.

"What, like the uneven balance bars?" she asked. "Not - the pommel horse."

There was further light entertainment in the genial post-Match of the Day chat show, McCoist and MacAulay (BBC1), in which Ally McCoist has so far revealed himself to be a telly personality of great potential. But the best line of last Saturday's show came from his partner, the comedian Fred MacAulay, who was in Inverness, standing outside a card shop on the High Street. Clinton Cards, it was called.

"This is the kind of shop you go to if you want to splash out on your girlfriend," he said.

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