It pains me to say this, but ITV has broken its duck as far as World Cup coverage is concerned. I'm not saying their programme is better than the beeb's; I don't suppose for a moment it is, as it happens. It's just that, being an employed person, I never get to see Linacre and his cohorts in action, so I'm not in a position to comment on their efforts. It's only fair and just then that ITV gets the nod. And, to continue the fairness motif, it's pretty good stuff the commercial boys are churning out of an evening. Firstly it's on at ten-thirty, which helps no end. Generally speaking by this hour, I've eaten my tea and had to sit through a good half-hour of silly season "news". So I'm likely to be shuffling uneasily in the parker knoll, nursing a glass of something refreshing, and desperate for something to watch in the hour or so before bed.
Secondly, the panel is quite an interesting mix. I won't have a word said ag'in Andy Townsend for starters, but even the world's largest curmudgeon would have to admit he's pretty good value for his 2k appearance money. I'm also rather taken with Robbie Earle, although he is given to wantonly staring past the camera into middle distance much like Charlie from Casualty. This is most disconcerting; it's just as well he speaks as well as he does. It's as you were, pundit wise, with El Tel and the Geordie chap whose name escapes me. But then we turn our attention to Ally McCoist. I have doubts about the fellow, I'll admit. On the surface, all seems well. He's attentive, enthusiastic, and accommodating to a bit of ribald debate. However, there's something there that worries me. He strikes me as the kind of bloke you might go on a daylight hours bender with after having only known him a short time through a friend of a friend. All would be well for the duration of the pub-based ents. Ally can take his drink, no question. The drinks would be accompanied by a few games of pool. As the afternoon wares on, you have a highly charged discussion about some aspect of adult life - women perhaps - in the way that only drunk men can. You find that your views accord, and a powerful, crapulent bond is formed. You like this bloke. Then you remember you have to pop to your sister's for half an hour because it's your niece's 18th. Why doesn't he come along? You'll stick your heads 'round the door and have a cup of sparkling wine before heading on to another hostelry. Aye, he says. I'd love tae. An hour later, you inadvertently stumble into your niece's bedroom, mistaking it for the toilet, and find him with his hand up her jumper.
For this reason alone, I can only afford the ITV coverage three stars. Shame really.
Misery Kippers Rating:
"Started off promisingly enough, but quickly lost shape and plummeted earthwards, like Martine McCutcheon's arse."
Captain Pubwatch - Waltham Forest Independent