Tuesday, May 16

Swinging crime

With the run up to the World Cup in full flow, Helen Parton really rather enjoys re-living one of its most famous shaggy-dog stories…

Crime was so much more fun in the 1960s, and almost always accompanied by a swinging bossa-nova beat, at least that’s what the makers of Who Stole the World Cup (Channel 4, 9pm) would have us believe. This was the tale of the theft of the Jules Rimet trophy in 1966 and as endearing British as crap weather, warm beer and hurling white plastic cafĂ© chairs at riot police when abroad (surely the white plastic chair’s dominance in Continental eateries should be of some concern for the EU’s competition commission, given that no other material or colour seems to get a look in).

Anyway, yes, only here in Blighty could a security lapse be due to someone taking a tea break – a bit like the theft of the Scream paintings being down to an ill-timed trip to Norway’s answer to Costcutter to stock up on pickled herrings and Aha’s Greatest Hits. What followed was something even the script-writers of Heartbeat would probably dismiss for being too much of a twee-olde-60s version of policing – ransom notes, code words, slow speed chases and finally the cry of ‘You’re Nicked!’ – for the middleman anyway. The man behind it all was apparently a shadowy figure by the name of ‘Joe the Pole’. Forget the retro revival of haircuts, music and hemlines of that decade – when are criminals with nicknames going to make a comeback I say! As if you didn’t know through a million pub quiz questions already, the Cup was recovered in time by a dog called Pickles, who we learnt later met his maker in another uniquely British bit of bathos – choking on his own lead while chasing a cat.

The rest of this documentary focussed on whether the Queen handed Bobby Moore the real recovered trophy or a secretly commissioned replica – the answer ‘no’ despite all the rather half hearted build up at this ‘exclusive’ new part to the tale.

Admittedly this was Channel 4’s flagrant attempt at World Cup bandwagon jumping but hell the station’s usual sports coverage consists of racing pundit/Diet Coke fan John McCririch shouting and superbikes. Aside from John McCririch shouting on a superbike, I could scarcely think of a pleasanter, if not particularly challenging, way to spend an hour watching TV.

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