Monday, July 3

Blammy, we're all in it together

Just a single weekend of television sees Nick Yates rediscover his Britishness

Depressing defeat: the inevitable confirmation once again that England are actually no good at football. I was in urgent need of topping up my patriotism this weekend, so was glad to see that Andy Murray had progressed through to the fourth round of Wimbledon, thrashing the much-fancied Andy Roddick in the process.

Never mind he’s from the wrong side of the border. It was time to forget my Englishness and emphasise my Britishness. Off with the miniature car flags of St George and time to proudly bear the Saltire on a sweaty blue wristband in honour of Britain’s new sporting hero.

There was some glorious British TV on Sunday night - the perfect opportunity to indulge my newly-defined national identity. No sooner had the news reader confirmed England’s - sorry, Scotland’s - win in the tennis, but the British Broadcasting Corporation was showing The Somme: From Defeat to Victory.

The gist of this propaganda was that the Slaughter of the Somme was not, as Blackadder would have it, a tactical botch that saw thousands of Tommies die in General Hague’s efforts ‘to move his drinks cabinet six inches closer to Berlin’. No, lance corporal, it was a rousing experience and, through the lessons learned, we went on to win the War.

Narrated by a kind of toned-down Sean Bean, it was full of shonky dramatic recreation. The common Brit toiled heroically in the trenches. The senior officers - distinguishable by their more elaborate moustaches and pipe smoking skills - learned their lessons miles away from the trenches, huddled around General Hague’s drinks cabinet.

A switch to More 4 brought us one of the highlights from the channel where 4’s programmes go to die. Father Ted never lets you down. Tonight’s was the one where Father Jack dies. My God, the bloke in charge of the schedules at E4 and More 4 must be tired of that one. Yet no matter how many times you hear that great Irish catchphrase ‘feck, arse, drink’, Ted’s always good for a laugh.

British entertainment on the TV turned out to be not so different from English entertainment. The Somme was about our boys’ thrashing camouflaged as a glorious effort where we didn’t deserve to lose. And Ted involved shambolic, farcical antics from members of a profession we should be able to be proud of. Both much like the average England match.

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