Grace Dent: We were all in it together (but Cliff Richard was on his own with that jacket)


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During a Summer where the BBC's live event coverage has been much maligned as "dull", the Wimbledon Men's Singles Final needed to pack a punch. "Once they were boys…Now they are men," exploded one of the many heart-murmur inducing montages in the hour-long Sue Barker fronted pre-show, "They are WARRIORS of sport!"

An Omen-style score crashed and snarled, random letters in the on-screen captions flickered in a Da Vinci Code pastiche. Gosh, it was exciting. I'll admit that somewhere between the Murray-mania Trainspotting-style "Choose Life, Choose Tennis" montage and just before the honking Bagpipes Coldplay Murray montage, I was brainzapped into believing Murray's victory was of huge personal importance.

And lo, the montages came and they were LEGION. A deserted centre court echoed with a ghostly voice beholding decades of British sporting triumphs.

A lickle lost tennis ball rolled home to Wimbledon, just like…oh don't you see, MURRAY BRINGING THE CUP HOME. This was no time to dwell on that long list of wishy-washy "Andy Murray personality defects" typically littering news reports.

How he "hates the English" (except his girlfriend Kim Sears is English). Or is a grump (ie: refuses to appear at press conferences doing wacky double-thumbs, wearing a tartan suit) and that time he drop-kicked a guinea-pig over a shed (important: Murray didn't drop-kick a guinea pig, I made this up, but he may as well have for the drubbing he's taken).

Federer, Murray's ever-victorious, affable and aesthetically pleasant to behold rival, was given a cursory mention during the pre-buzz. "But how do you think Murray is feeling NOW?" Sue Barker asked endlessly to pundits, such as Pat Cash, sporting one dangling earring to denote "I might be mellowing but there's still a portion of my lower leftside lobe that remains firmly PARTY". John McEnroe, as always, was an informative, smooth, safe pair of punditry hands, made funnier as his malevolence towards mankind is forever slenderly on a leash.

Tim Henman was so muted during his screentime I was concerned the BBC had sent him for embalming. That said, Henman in his navy suit was very dapper, resembling a sort of low budget, domestic-regions-only James Bond, who might drive about Britain in a Vauxhall on espionage missions into rival county councils recycling policies.

Pleasingly, Wimbledon's celeb spectator count was high for nosy-bonks like myself who love to know who was furnished with golden tickets. Beckham Inc. arrived; him looking a lot like a cartoon skunk playing a musketeer, her channelling trademark sullen/elegant.

Cliff Richard appeared in a jacket I've been searching for terms to describe during many deadline-scoffing minutes currently settling on: "Cliff was dressed as an 18th Century colour-blind Austrian goat-herder". Boris Johnson looked like a lovely old English sheepdog going to a job re-start meeting.

Elsewhere David Cameron and Nick Clegg took some time out from healing the country to enjoy some of the best seats in the court, not being even remotely "all in this together" with the ticketless oafs outside on Murray Mount suffering from trench-foot and a lack of sense to leave.

The Middleton Sisters, Kate and Pippa, appeared looking fragrant and inoffensive. Pippa slightly short-changed the crowd by sitting-down immediately and not displaying her sumptuous behind to us all which if she'd thought about it could have borne the legend ANDY on one cheek and MURRAY on the opposite.

The cameras lingered lovingly on the girls. It's odd that the Middleton sisters are our answer to 1930s society belles the Mitford Sisters, except when the day comes to fill books with interesting Middleton anecdotes there won't be enough to fill a flimsy pamphlet in 72-point font.

When Murray's hopes of victory were finally quashed, nobody in telly-land could have pre-empted the closing plot twist. Given a mic and the floor to say his piece, infamous "heartless robot" Murray burst into tears, then delivered a touching tribute to everyone who keeps him sane and cares for him.

Murray cried, his family cried, Centre Court wept, Murray Mount gave a collective snottery sob and millions of viewers wiped their nose on sofa cushions and tried to blame hay-fever. The credits ran to "Let It Be", Murray may have lost but BBC live sports coverage still felt like a winner.