Eubank the philosopher pops into the picture

Sport on TV

Andrew Baker
Saturday 27 April 1996 23:02

Chris Eubank's career in the ring was punctuated by bizarre pronouncements about his career prospects on retirement. He said that he would like to study philosophy at Oxford or Cambridge, before declaring that he wished to act, and that James Bond might be a suitable role. So far, though, the cloisters of academe remain untrodden by Eubank's immaculate footwear, and Pierce Brosnan has not taken to loitering in the Job Centre. Meanwhile, Christopher Livingstone Eubank, as he is calling himself these days, is presenting Top of the Pops (BBC1).

Christopher Livingstone Eubank (any relation to Jonathan Livingstone Seagull?) looked right at home on the TOTP set. And well he might: with its swivelling strobes, dry ice and screaming fans it looked just like an arena prepared for one of his interminable entrances.

No choreographed strut this time, though. He just loomed into view wearing a dark double- breasted suit with a tangerine shirt and twiddling a smart swagger-stick - useful, presumably, for prodding intrusive boppers.

The taste for philosophy clearly lingers, and CLE could not let such an opportunity slip without sharing a few of his more profound thoughts. "We live in a country where the minds of the people are manipulated by the press," he pronounced, when he should have been introducing Ash. "Think about it." Think about it, and marvel at the chutzpah of the man: how many people were "manipulated" into watching him fight pounds 10m-worth of contests on Sky?

And so it went on. The Manic Street Preachers were introduced as a band "to make you philosophic and think". Sleeper were not so fortunate. Their lead singer, Louise Wiener, was described by CLE as "an absolute totty", which is not the kind of phrase you find in the works of Wittgenstein or Nietzsche.

He had recovered his poise by the end of the show, and signed off with another strikingly original thought. "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, no matter what they tell you, or the truths they'll try to sell you, remember, always be true to yourself." A sentiment first, and more memorably, expressed by Polonius in Hamlet. Polonius, CLE please note, was a pompous windbag.

The logical career progression for Eubank is to make the leap from presenter to performer. He clearly has a lot on his mind, and it would be the work of a moment to have some of his existential ramblings set to music. After all, he already has the most important prerequisite for success in the music industry: an ego the size of a planet.

Uri Geller is another chap with no small amount of confidence in his own abilities. Bored with mentally mutilating cutlery, he recently decided to employ his psychic powers in the service of his favourite football team, Reading, and make a documentary about the process.

Secrets of the Paranormal: Bending Footballs (BBC2) was one of the most grippingly naff productions you could ever hope to see. There was a credit on the end that read "This programme was editorially approved by Uri Geller" and boy, did that get the BBC's editor off the hook.

Uri and his family had simply pointed their video camera at anything that seemed interesting at the time, which was chiefly themselves. Thus we were introduced to Uri's "lovely wife" and his "lovely mother, who is 82 and she looks like 20", and we watched his daughter kicking balloons around at her birthday party while Uri drivelled on about how lovely it would be to be a grandfather.

Uri, who is, he told us, "known all over the world for TV, films, and books", is also concerned with making "infomercials", which explains a lot about the quality of his documentary. It also explains a lot about the quality of his house, a vast pile decorated in the swagged-curtain, big-chandelier and gilt-mirror mode. There was also a gigantic crystal, which Uri gripped while "empowering" a handful of smaller ones.

The crystals were a key part of his plan to energise Reading. When Manchester United came to visit for a cup tie, Uri distributed crystals to all the Reading players. For good measure, he sprinkled some more on the boardroom floor, where they sat like giant flakes of dandruff.

Uri also sought to befuddle the United hierarchy by bending spoons at them. Alex Ferguson cunningly side-stepped the performance, sending along Bobby Charlton and a lugubrious cove with a droopy moustache who turned out to be Eric Cantona's dad. "C'est impossible," Cantona pere marvelled as a teaspoon fell to bits in his hand. "Mais," he might have added, "Ce n'est pas la guerre." Cantona fils scored the third as Reading were humbled 3-0.

Uri, like Eubank, was philosophical. "To me," he intoned, "more important than winning cups is that the players came to see me, and opened themselves to their limitless potential." The limitless lads are at present opening their minds to the imminent possibility of relegation to the Second Division.

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