The rain in Spain invades the anchor man's brain

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Friday morning in Valderrama, and Richard Keys looked like he had walked into a horror movie. Transplanted from the familiar surroundings of the Sports Centre to present The Ryder Cup (Sky), Keys had been looking forward to gentle sunshine and spectacular golf. But the heavens had opened and he was looking at cats and dogs instead of birdies, trapped on the set of The Long Bad Friday.

Television front-men love the sound of their own voices - it is a prerequisite for the job, along with nice teeth and biddable hair - but they also like something to talk about, and every sports presenter's nightmare is a long delay before there has been any action about which to waffle. This was Keys' dilemma, with the added twist that if the rain got any heavier there was every possibility that he would be obliged to live up to his role as anchor man and somehow prevent the entire studio floating away.

But you don't get to be a big cheese on Sky Sports without knowing how to string things out a bit, and Keys kept it all bobbing along while those viewers who were sick of the sight of him and keen for some action reflected that the rain in Spain falls mainly on the Pain.

The BBC's late-night highlights show should really be titled The Rider Cup, for Steve of that ilk is in charge, and does a fair bit of commentating to gallop through a couple of hours of action in five minutes in order that Alex Hay and Peter Alliss might dwell at their leisure on the later action.

This means much musing on club choice: "That's surely a nine-iron for Tom..." "No more than an eight-iron for Phil here, I fancy...' "A delicate seven for Jose-Maria, I'll be bound..." Any minute, you suspect, Alliss is going to break into a chorus of "Any old iron, any old iron, any any any old iron..." and be carted off to the Dunyipping Home of Rest for Distressed Gentlefolk, where a dormitory has been prepared. Or, as Alex Hay would call it, a "dorrrrmy".

Rider conducted a somewhat unrevealing interview with a cagey and knackered Seve Ballesteros, and then signed off with a poetic weather forecast: "The sun goes down on the Costa del Sol, but the temperature is rising at the Ryder Cup."

Oh no it wasn't, for yesterday morning the broadcasters awoke to the unhappy sound of rain pattering on the roof. Breakfast at Casa Keys will not have been a merry affair. Nor will there have been much singing over the cornflakes at Villa Inverdale, where John had another morning of torture to come filling the silence on Radio Five. At one stage, to give the poor man a moment's respite, the producer stuck the microphone out of the window and let the sound of precipitation speak for itself. Then it was back live, and more banter along the lines of "Let's go to Tony Adamson on the 18th - Tony, how wet is the rain with you?"

You knew things were getting desperate when they started quoting from Danny Baker's newspaper column, which is not so much scraping the bottom of the barrel as removing it, sectioning it, and sending it off to the lab for microscopic analysis. Once play finally got under way, credit should be granted to the radio team for finding a method of reducing Alan Green's volume, although rumours that the "Voice of Football" has been seen wandering the rough at Valderrama wearing a muzzle have been discounted.

The Ryder Cup has spawned a great deal of opportunist advertising, one of the more striking examples featuring Seve demonstrating the virtues of rough weather gear in conditions that are remarkably similar to those seen on our screens on Friday and Saturday morning. Pure chance? Or an agent of Bogleby, Bargleby and Wotsit in a microlight making with the cloud-seeding mixture?

Even this was not the most cynical of the campaigns: for this accolade surely goes to Nick Hancock, whose career has really taken off since he started doing voiceovers for diaorrhea medicine. The latest in this line shows a golfer lining up a putt with the sort of expression on his face that suggests that the line of the ball is not the only kind of run on his mind.

Contemporary relevance is reinforced by the fact that he wears a scarlet shirt and bears a remarkable resemblance to Phil Mickelson. No doubt one is supposed to think "Hmm! Must pop out and stock up on Bung-Up", or whatever the stuff is called, but instead you can't help wondering if the course that the Americans are really worried about in Valderrama is that one that comes after the hors d'oeuvres.

Sky will shortly dish up their new football soap opera, Dream Team, and have been granting sneak previews. It would not do to reveal too much of the plot: suffice to say that the boardroom table at the fictional club Harchester United is put to most unusual use in the first episode. "Big Ron" Atkinson, the manager, will go ballistic when he finds out - if he hasn't been sacked in the meantime.

Back in what passes for the real world of football, Henning Berg's own goal for Manchester United will have delighted many, as will his reaction, lovingly replayed on Match of the Day (BBC1). Read his lips: "For fjord's sake."

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