Sue's sunny set and the Zenman movement

Sport on TV

All week, as Henmania raged, something about him rang a bell. It was only when the Labour Party presented their pre-manifesto manifesto that that the bell was answered. Consider a moment: immaculate dark hair, mad staring eyes, shiny chipmunk-teeth, uncanny ability to seem nice and plausible without saying anything of any substance. Tim Henman is Tony Blair's youthful alter-ego. For New Labour, think New Laver.

Successive players interviewed on Today at Wimbledon (BBC1) were asked what they thought of the young Brit. All were impressed by "the way he handles himself", not a reference to frequent groin adjustment but player- speak for "the way he gives interviews without saying anything".

This is a difficult skill to acquire - players often find the urge to say something spontaneous irresistible - but Henman has clearly been coached by an expert.

The key to his technique is a mantra, not unlike the Buddhist chant of "om". Whenever he is asked a question, Henman goes "Ahm", and then falls silent for a moment while he filters his next remark for any traces of emotion. Just to ensure that nothing controversial gets through, his second sentence always begins: "Having said that ..." The result: perfect opacity - Zenman.

To inject a little pace into the proceedings on Tuesday night, the BBC followed their soporific Henman interview with a trailer for the match with Todd Martin. This consisted of highlights of the Oxford man's performances intercut with images from the new Tom Cruise film, Mission: Impossible. Nice one, BBC.

It brought a smile to Sue Barker's face, but that has never been difficult to achieve - if she got any sunnier they'd have to flash a dark-glasses warning up on the screen whenever she appeared. Barker chuckled her way through the championships in her jolly all-chums- together way, and on the whole did a pretty competent job, with the odd forgiveable blip, like mixing up Ann Jones and Jo Durie.

Her wardrobe was less forgiveable. Perhaps it is a reaction to years of compulsory white clothing, but Barker now seems to be addicted to unorthodox outfits. It is hard to pick the worst offenders, but the shortlist would have to include Tuesday's pink check jacket, which made her look like she had become entangled in a net on her way up to the box, Thursday's light blue number with green and yellow blotches (victim of paintball assault?), and Friday's leafy pink suit, which gave the impression that the creeper on the outside studio wall was mounting a Triffid-style takeover attempt on the studio.

Since the BBC have a monopoly of Wimbledon coverage in Britain Barker and Co are unopposed, but John McEnroe has apparently been doing wonders for NBC, and popped up on the BBC to ask them if they had misplaced their footage of Hero Henman's assault on a ball-girl last year. Surely he couldn't be serious?

McEnroe's regular NBC sparring partner, Bud Collins, is too exotic to be missed, as Sky News fortunately realised, signing him up to contribute reports to their Sportsline. Those of you who have made Bud's acquaintance through his occasional contributions to these pages will not be surprised to learn that his sartorial style has much in common with his prose style: vivid and very colourful, he makes Sue Barker look like a shrinking violet.

When Pete Sampras was two sets down to Richard Krajicek, Collins appeared on screen in a candy striped jumper over a floral shirt, hopping from foot to foot and chanting. "I'm doing my Massachusetts Naragansett Indian Rain Dance," he explained, without breaking step. "Come on rain! Come on rain! I've got to get Pete Sampras outta here. Come on rain! I'm terribly chauvinistic."

This last point was somewhat unnecessary, since although Collins had been very nice about Henman, comparing him fancifully with Roger Moore, he had also pointedly noted that Henman was "the first Brit in the quarter- finals since 1610 - I looked it up in the records".

Rain delays also provided grist to his hyperactive mill. "The covers are on and off so often here it's like a hot-pillow hotel," he said. The fact that Arantxa Sanchez Vicario had played on on Court No 1 while others had retreated inevitably prompted: "There was no rain on that plain for the woman from Spain." By Thursday, when Collins, sporting floral trousers, had predicted that Goran Ivanisevic's friendly priest would be defrocked if he failed to steer his man to the title, Sky had sent a minder out to usher him away when his time was up. There's no telling what Darling Bud will say.

Friday's edition of The Olympic Game (BBC1) got off to a bad start when Kriss Akabusi failed to fall down the stairs that led to his seat. Who knows, he may well have gone on to make a distinguished contribution to the quiz. But when he hopped off that last step it was switch-off time.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Business Project Manager

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project Manager job vaca...

Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor