The live but deadly dull late-night horror show

Sport on TV
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The Independent Online
Don't know what it was about television on Thursday night, but sport was dashed thin on the ground. Most of the channels had crowds of fans milling around wearing rosettes, cheering and shouting, but there was precious little action. And for some reason a lot of the fans, especially the glummest ones, were wearing pinstripe suits. Weird.

There was some ice hockey on Eurosport (there usually is), the Czech Republic v Russia. It was pretty dull until the first serious fight broke out, about 20 seconds into the game. It was a boisterous scrap with an apparently tragic conclusion, but a slow-motion replay revealed that what had at first seemed to be a severed head spinning through the air was in fact only someone's helmet. Then they got on with the game, and it was time to switch channels.

Peculiar goings-on on Sky Sports 2: a re-run of the 1976 League Cup final between Manchester City and Newcastle United, complete with Brian Moore's commentary. Some kind of televisual time-warp? No, up popped Sir Bobby Charlton in a little box in the top corner of the screen, shooting the breeze with a gentleman named Dennis (Tueart, maybe?) while the game carried on beneath them.

This was Bobby Charlton's Football Scrapbook. The idea is that Charlton fills in the boring bits of an ancient match by discussing the game with someone who played in it. The key flaw in this concept is that, great player and senior statesman of the game notwithstanding, Ol' Bone-Dome is jaw-droppingly, eyelid-droopingly dull, as witnessed on this occasion by his determined recollections of long-dead landladies and happy afternoons at the Norbreck Health Hydro. As a scrapbook it's not much cop, but if they retitled the show Bobby Charlton's Football Lullabies it could develop quite a following among insomniacs. Time for a channel change.

BBC1. A man with a beard wearing a red rosette said: "At the end of the day, you can't be strong in Europe if you are divided." Bloody United supporter. Channel change.

Sky Sports 1: World of Super League with Eddie and Stevo. The boys are discussing Salford Reds, presumably the last remaining Trotskyite splinter group in the Manchester area. They are interrupted by a clip of a man who seems very determined. "There is no way I can be beaten," he says. Ryan Rhodes, I think, rather than Dr Rhodes Boyson.

Recently installed blizzard countermeasures allow access to Channel 5. Such a dull evening offers an ideal opportunity to see what the new station is up to. Their late-night sports show is called Live and Dangerous, which sounds like just the thing to wake up a sleepy viewer.

Oh dear. It's live, certainly - check out the amusing technical cock- ups, like the way the presenters can't hear the viewers calling in to ask them questions. But it's about as dangerous as an elderly sheep with pacifist tendencies and bad gums. And less interesting.

You might have thought that, given the precedent of the awesomely bad Channel 4 sports phone-in Under The Moon, Channel 5 would be keen to explore exciting new avenues in such an undemanding late slot. But no. They have produced a show that in many ways is very similar to Under The Moon, but (and this is quite an achievement) worse.

In only one area is there a slight improvement. Like UTM, Live and Dangerous has two presenters. Unlike UTM, only one of them is unattractive: Dominik (sik) Diamond, who seems to be mutating into James Whale before our very eyes. He already has the tediously chippy persona, now he's developing the face to go with it: beard, specs, receding hairline - it's uncanny.

Trish Adudu, his co-host, is a more presentable presenter, but her chief function seems to be to gasp and giggle whenever she thinks the Diamond geezer has been naughty. It may well be demeaning and sexist to comment on Adudu's appearance, but that doesn't stop the show's sweaty callers from doing just that.

The special guest was - how daring, how unusual - Rodney Marsh. He and Diamond ploddingly dissected the previous evening's World Cup games. "I was talking to Joe Royle about a year ago," Marsh recalled, "and he said that Duncan Ferguson was an outstanding player." Time - and Joe - have moved on since then, Rodney, but thanks all the same. Marsh also felt that "you should always play your best players" which will no doubt have had watching managers reaching for their notebooks.

The intellectual tone was raised with a competition, which asked viewers which team Michael Jordan plays for. Was it (a) the Dallas Cowboys, (b) the Chicago Bulls or (c) Leyton Orient. "Please get the permission of the person who owns the phone before you make the call," a voiceover warned. And while you're at it, they might have added, ask them if they wouldn't mind emptying your potty. Change channels.

BBC1: An ugly man from Putney with glasses and sticky-out teeth is saying that we'll still be hearing plenty from him "at least if you're interested in football". Every silver lining has its cloud.

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