Wimbledon 97 (BBC1 and BBC2, all week) got off to an ominous start, when much was made of the new all-singing all-dancing Court One. I don't know about you but I wasn't too impressed with our first ever inspection of the main camera angle, through which we will be watching tennis for the rest of our lives. There was a fat old male head slap dab in the middle of it wearing - get this - a sun hat. Some time in the middle of the second drizzle break, they ran the film that the All England Club made about the court's construction. You could tell it was a corporate video because of its relentlessly sunny disposition. Lots of sentences like "the covers arrived to be checked - the hope is that they won't be needed for the 1997 championships." Pah! If only they knew. Goran Ivanisevic obviously did. On his route march into the second round, he rattled through one game with four aces in 36 seconds. Though precisely the kind of behaviour that has been getting Wimbledon a bad name, by Wednesday the BBC would happily have danced on the grave of Dan Maskell if, in return, it got them an unvarying diet of unreturnable aces they could broadcast live.
As it was, the stock of corporate videos ran dry and they started showing games recorded earlier. When these ran out, they showed repeats of games they'd already shown, and when those ran out, they showed repeats of games from previous championships. As this rain plainly won't let up until someone somewhere gathers together a male and female from every species and takes them on a 40-day cruise, I'm waiting with baited breath for the moment they've got no option but to show a repeat that they've already repeated. To stave off that watershed, the chaps in editing were busy banging out those compilations set to music. They normally make only one a year, but output is now up to about five an hour. And to make a change from pictures of "Rain, 1997" they even dredged up repeats of "Rain, 1991".
While we wait for play to resume, the time is surely at hand when the BBC stops calling them repeats and comes up with a more evasive euphemism. Much has been made of the rather crap-looking parkland around the new Court One, and particularly the many-splendoured "water feature". Henceforth, repeated matches should be known as water features, and instead of the R imprinted on to a tennis ball, the logo in the corner of your screen, the one that warns you you're watching ancient history, should depict an artful cascade of the wet stuff.
Gremlins were in the system as early as Monday. During one phase of pulsatingly entertaining tennis, you could hear the sound of David Gower interviewing the captains of England and Australia at Lords. Then on Wednesday, in the middle of a terrific water feature from some sunny yesteryear, the tape broke. Even Des found it quite difficult to sound cool passing that news on.
Gower, incidentally, went mad in Cricket - Second Test (BBC1, Mon). Blame it on the giddy feeling that comes when you're commentating on an uninterrupted day of live sport, but during England's rearguard action, he started reminiscing about that flight he once made in a Tiger Moth of which the MCC tour management took such a dim view. For "anyone seen to be having fun," he moaned, it was simply a case of " `Sorry, can't play for us.' " You wouldn't like to lay down the same ground rules about commentating for the BBC, but it was a mark of extraordinary arrogance for Gower to assume so blithely that we all wanted to know about his puerile sets-to with authority.
Gaytime TV (BBC2, Wed) returned with a lesbian beauty pageant and a report on the future for homosexuals in communist Hong Kong. Oddly for a programme that is out by definition, it doesn't know which way to swing: do we ape Panorama or Eurotrash (C4, Fri)? Eurotrash was 50 this week. Its real star is not French and / or topless but someone called Maria McErlane, whose ineffably sceptical voice-overs are as British as anything pouring across your screen this week.Reuse content