Sport on TV: Strangled gurgles and too much silver lining

Tom Watts, get out of town. There's a new voice on the blocks. Well, not so new. Seventy-one years old, in fact.

Aurally speaking, David Coleman's commentaries have always tended to thrash around like a Jimi Hendrix weird-out, but like a tree acquiring rings, every year that passes adds a new dimension of tortured, strangulated sound to The Voice. There has always been plenty of gurgle and squeak to go with the pratfalls and Colemanballs, but in the athletics World Championships last week (BBC2) there was evidence of even richer, grittier depths. Now he's got time on his hands after giving up A Question of Sport, I want to hear him tackle "Burma Shave" and do cameos in cult movies.

In fact our ears might have suffered even more, as The Voice tends to crack and lurch most alarmingly when there's British gold in prospect, and it was hardly that kind of week. But that didn't stop the Beeb behaving as if the Greeks had staged the event entirely for our benefit. In the days when we used to get gold medals, the flag-waving seemed reasonable. Now, when we scrabble around for silver linings, it's a little bit embarrassing, by Jingo.

The crudest example came on Tuesday at the end of one of the 800 metres heats. "And Andy Hart finishes in eighth place," Coleman said, and without missing a beat, Brendan Foster dived in with: "I thought Andy Hart acquitted himself very well." I bet Hart didn't think so.

What we need in Britain isn't a new Ovett or Coe but our very own Wilson Kipketer, the elegant, Kenyan-born Dane who provided the highlight of the week as he glided angelically to victory in the 800 metres. It must be utterly infuriating for the also-rans as they see him purr past them, borne on a cushion of air.

Earlier in the week, after he had won his second-round heat with the appearance of a man who knows that victory is his if he only stays awake long enough to put one foot in the front of the other a few times, he was complimented back in the studio by Des Lynam for his smoothness - an accolade indeed from the King of Smooth himself.

Lynam was assisted all week by an assortment of old boys and head prefects, Linford Christie, David Moorcroft and Roger Black being joined later on by the newly retired Sally Gunnell (who has the slightly irritating habit of beginning every sentence with "Yeah").

While Moorcroft and Black played the nice guys, Christie seemed determined to be unpleasant. On Friday, his comment on Jonathan Edwards' second place in the triple jump was a terse, "silver's a failure". But his meanest moment came on the first morning, after the 20 kilometre walk. As Moorcroft enlightened us about how difficult the discipline is (and as someone who was subjected to power walking at school by a PE-teaching sadist, I can testify that it made cross-country seem like standing still and having a quiet fag), Lynam wondered benignly why they didn't just take up running. The ever-Corinthian Christie chipped in with "it shouldn't even be an event." Nuff Respect for fellow athletes, hey?

So much for world championships, though; now down to the serious stuff. Pro Beach Soccer (Sky Sports 1) took place not on the Copacabana, where it belongs, but at Travamunde, a spa resort on the German Baltic coast, no less.

The players in the Brazil v United States match were mostly nonentities, though there was Junior, the former World Cup player described by the American commentator as "a legend on the beach and on the fields of Brazil as well". And one of the Americans, with the evocative name of Albuquerque, did spend time in the German third division.

The US team had two players called Gibson and Ibsen, who would keep insisting on passing to each other. Their hapless goalkeeper looked like Dan Aykroyd - not as a young man, but as he is now, a little bit pudgy, a little bit jowly. And he didn't help by wearing Raybans and a gypsy scarf in surf safari style. It was probably the shades that made him let in 10 goals.

Brazil are, surprise surprise, the untouchable emperors of beach footie, and they romped to their 19th victory in a row, though Ibsen proved himself something of a Master Builder in attack (sorry) by scoring one of the three consolation goals.

Although the players are all highly skilled, it still looked like any old beach kickabout: you could picture yourself - erroneously, of course - taking off your shoes and socks and joining in. When John Barnes decides to hang up his boots he could do worse than go barefoot on the beach, though he also seems to be thinking of a second career as a chef. On Celebrity Ready Steady Cook (BBC1) he took on Bob Holness, his red snapper carrying the day against the Blockbusters supremo's Steak Vienna.

As Barnes sampled the finished product at the end, he murmured appreciatively, "If I close my eyes I'm in Montego Bay. All I need is my thong." That seemed to bring the presenter Fern Britton out in a hot flush, suggesting that perhaps there's a third post-football option for Barnes - on Celebrity Ready Steady Strip.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence