Tuesday, May 30

World Cup Warm Up

We've got Johnny Motson, we've got Johnny Motson, la la la la, la la la la. The BBC was as lousy as ever, says Mark Lewis

If last night's team was the one we are going to see come World Cup time, we may be in trouble. That had to be the verdict after the first half at least, when BBC sports dons watching Match of the Day’s coverage of England vs Hungary (BBC1, 7.45pm) must have feared we would defect en masse to ITV.

Motty was at his Richard Whitely in a commentary box worst, chuckling and bantering with all the confidence of an ugly teenager ; beside him sat a strangely sober Mark Lawrenson. Not only did his near silence mark the absence of his worthless analysis, but Lawro eschewed almost entirely his baffling jokes, which used to be signalled on Football Focus by his grinning fucking face. (Man, I’d like to smash his face with a club: yeah, a club made out of Kate Thornton’s severed head.) But watching BBC football commentary without the added excitement of working out when Lawro might be cracking a gag is like grazing your knee without being allowed to pick the scab.

Oh, there were flashes. When invited to enlighten us on what Wayne Rooney’s absence meant to the England team we enjoyed this exchange:

Lawro - ‘It’s the ability to make something out of nothing’

Motty - ‘Adds a bit extra doesn’t he.’

And Lawro tried weakly to make fun of Tony Christie’s England version of Amarillo. But it was all as half hearted as England’s first half performance.

Back in the studio, things were little better. Gary Lineker was steady, if unspectacular at the back, Ian Wright was lively but ineffective up front, Lee Dixon was practically anonymous. Only Alan Hanen played well, breaking up play, and interrupting Lee Dixon whenever he was probably about to say something stupid.

By the second half, the team showed ITV why the BBC was still good enough not to completely negate the commercial broadcaster’s adverts disadvantage. Lawro cackled about how footballers often had attractive girlfriends; Lineker became so smug he almost turned into Kevin Spacey; Wrighty went through the post match analysis without once pronouncing a ‘t’, and Hansen kept Lee Dixon so quiet he may or may not have still been in the studio.

He would have been better off trying his luck on the other side, where ITV’s Celebrity X-Factor (9pm) had Kate Thornton (with body still attached to head, unfortunately) inviting Dr Gillian McKeith to sing Cher’s It’s in His Kiss.

‘Can you actually kiss McKeith without picturing her poking through your turds,’ he could have said.

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