Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Billy on the Box: Forget the Tin Man, Iron Man is Oz wizard

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 27: Novak Djokovic (L) of Serbia holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup with runner up Andy Murray of Great Britain after Novak Djokovic won their men's final match during day fourteen of the 2013 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 27, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Lucas Dawson/Getty Images)

Far be it from me to cast aspersions on the broadcasting neutrality of the BBC but Blatantly Biased Caledonian TV took it to a whole new level Down Under at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning.



Oor Andy was up against nasty Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final and I was primed for a quick backhand press of the remote control to ensure there was no repeat of Friday’s semi-final where four sets were on BBC2 and then we suddenly switched to BBC1.

No such danger of that for the final, as Sue Barker’s voice appeared now and again to tell us that if we’d just switched on to watch something else it wasn’t on, but you could see it on BBC2. Call me old fashioned, why not just put the tennis on BBC2 and let it be?

Of course, there was an alternative in the shape of Eurosport who must be as happy as Mrs Murray watching her wee lad getting spanked by a nasty Serb, as they’ve been in Melbourne the whole time and then suddenly the Beeb turn up for the climax.

Or rather they don’t as Sue was joined in the studio at home by Boris Becker and commentary duo Andrew Castle and John Lloyd were relieved they were in another cupboard elsewhere in the building and Boris wasn’t invited.

Although when Lloyd moaned ‘that’s frightening, that’s so good’ I was a little alarmed but back in Melbourne Ivan Lendl, Murray’s mentor, remained cool.

I say ‘cool’, but he had the look of a man who had just been told there was no Santa but he already knew that because he’d killed him. And the reindeer.

And talking of scary, there was no sign of Mrs Murray in the early stages — she’d probably nipped off to watch the Andrew Marr Show on BBC2 — either that or she’d been out savaging a dingo somewhere.

Meanwhile, Castle was at his most cringeworthy with some fine unbiased commentary on Murray including ‘this is a really strong performance from Andy, so come on now’ and ‘the first double of the match (for Djokovic) — the perfect time for it.’

Sue was at it too after Murray somehow won the first set when she interjected to tell us that the Big Question was now on BBC2 but that ‘Murray is finding the answers so far’. Pass the empty barley water bottle, please.

And then you could have knocked us down with a feather as Djokovic (pictured) plucked defeat from the bill of victory when one of his winged friends put Andy off at a vital time and a double fault gave the Serb the game. If you’d switched over to BBC2, John Craven would probably have been standing with the offending bird (and I don’t mean Julia Bradbury) on Countryfile.

“You can only salute the man, even if you want Murray to win,” said Castle as we all wondered why the word ‘even’ was used but then disaster — a blister and the reason why we watch the Beeb.

For all of Eurosport’s good work, in between games we are whisked off for some adverts, mainly for upcoming winter sports events from somewhere chilly, thus missing out on Andy gurning at the umpire, eating bananas and showing off his disgusting feet.

Meanwhile, Castle informed us that while this was going on ‘Djokovic took us through a stretching programme that would do Oz Aerobics proud — one of my favourite programmes’. Far too much information and there was more to come.

“Oooooh brilliant, you could feel that one in your backside,” he exclaimed in exciting fashion as Lloyd clearly started an impromptu pilates session in the cupboard.

But as the Sunday Politics show moved to BBC2, Andy was quickly ousted from power, and Sue brought the curtain down on proceedings.

“It wasn’t to be for Andy Murray, there were blisters, a pulled hamstring and a bit of frustration but he came up against the iron man of the sport,” she said, as Djokovic was seen scuttling off with an emu and John Lloyd and Andrew Castle were being prised out of their leotards.

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