Dom Joly: The voice of tennis – a true great in the commentating racket

Weird World Of Sport
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The Independent Online

Thrilled as I am about Andy Murray doing so well at Wimbledon, I can't help feeling bad for Tim Henman. Henman has now become the equivalent of the British referees and linesmen at the World Cup. Because the national team were so crap the football commentators have started to get excited about how well any British official is doing. Similarly, Henman is the best that the BBC can do when scouting about for a successful former tennis player. I know that they still chuck the occasional bone to the Desperate Dan of the game, Greg Rusedski but come on....

Anyway, the law dictates that when Andy Murray retires he must take over from Henman as chief British commentator. I tried to imagine what that would be like... You join us as the new mainstay of Wimbledon 2020 commentary, Christine Bleakley shares the mic with Murray for the first time.

"Welcome to the new Northern Rock Centre Court, where we have some really exciting tennis ahead for you. Andy – looking forward to the afternoon? It's going to be a cracker..."

"Uuuhhmm... yeah... whatever..."

"Who do you fancy in the first match up – they're both from China, do you know anything about them?"

"Uuuhhmmm... no... not really..."

"Right, so we've got to look at their stats to get a feel for it. They both look very impressive but Xen Du's first-serve percentage could just be the deciding factor?"

"Uuuhhhmmmm... yeah... I suppose so..."

"This year really marks a turning point in the game, doesn't it? All the semi-finalists, both men and women, are from China. They've really taken over the game. Why do you think this has happened?"

"Uuuhhmmmm... dunno... it's a really big country..."

"Right... it's ... a... really... big... country... That's all you're going to give me, is it? Forgive me if I'm mistaken but I thought you were being paid to actually talk... Say something profound and of interest about the game... Is there a problem, Andy?"

"What? No, it's just really early. I'm not really awake yet... sorry."

"It's two o'clock in the afternoon, Andy..."

"Yeah... I don't really get going until about four and then I need time to get my head together..."

"Right... Jesus, this is like working with Chiles back on The One Show – you'd have to give him an adrenalin shot just before we went on air."

"Can I tell people about my new range of ice bath products?"

"No you can't – this is the BBC and we can only plug approved products."

"WHAT!!! That's not fair... that really pisses me off... someone said I could... I hate this... I hate you... I hate this box..."

"Ladies and gentlemen, I must apologise for the language. I think Andy is a little... tired..."

"TIRED... I'm knackered – I had to get up at 11.30 to get in here... I can barely keep my eyes open... Can somebody get me a Murrayade... the premier sports drink... the drink of champions..."

"Are you plugging one of your products?"

"No... just fancy a drink..."

"A drink that happens to be one of your products?"

"Yeah but... so what? I like it."

"Right, we've got some callers on the line now. As you know interactivity is the name of the game here at the BBC and you can have the opportunity of commentating live on one of the games in these upcoming matches. Who've we got on line one?"

"Hello, it's Tim... Jim here..."

"Hello Jim... you're live on the BBC, what do you want to say?"

"I wanted to say that I thought Tim Henman was the greatest English tennis player ever and I feel that he's been largely ignored recently and that I, like many people, think this is a scandal."

"Is that you, Henman?"

"No... not at all... actually... yes it is, Murray... and you're rubbish at this, I want my job back..."

"Well, tough, I've got it now, so what are you going to do about it?"

"I'm going to send Greg Rusedski round to your house..."

"Boys... boys... calm down... this is silly. You were both great players and it's great to have you on, Jim... Tim. What do you think of this afternoon's match?"

"I'm paying for this call right now – can I claim for it or will somebody ring me back?"

"Let me get someone to get back to you on that, Tim. Andy Murray, what about the young British player Elsa Richard? As we know, she is Cliff Richard's daughter, but she did well to get to the quarter-finals."

"I don't care... she's English so I was supporting anyone but her..."

"Really, that seems a little harsh..."

"Look... I'm seriously tired. Can I go for a kip? And I'll come back around five and then you can ask me some more questions..."

"Ladies and gentlemen...the future voice of British tennis..."

"Scottish tennis..."

"This is going to be a long day..."