Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Billy on the Box: It’s a simply Super end to 2012 and all that — at last

And to resurrect a fine old joke from yesteryear here - I'll take the soup pleasei

Don't know about you but even the prospect of spending the evening in the bath with Gabby Logan couldn’t make me garner much enthusiasm for the return — again — of Superstars.



It turns out I had misread it slightly and it was being held in Bath but as it turned out, it was so wet that they may as well have handed out a few bottles of Mr Matey to get things going with a swing.

Things have changed greatly since this sporting institution was in its pomp. Back in the Seventies there was no Miss Matey and no need to stick 2012 on at the end of it to try and make it even more interesting.

Yes, we know Team GB did quite well at the Olympics, but can we now move on? Why do I get the feeling that in 2052, Gabby (pictured with some old runner) will still be on our screens reminding us what it was like on Super Saturday while a cryogenically-frozen Geoff Hurst taps on his pod, coughing and muttering ‘don’t forget about me’.

“It’s time to relive that incredible summer of magic,” she continued. ‘Relive it?’ — I feel as if it’s Groundhog Day and Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and the wee ginger lad that won the jumpy thing are playing on a constant loop.

Back in the day, the only Farah in evidence on Superstars was worn by messrs Vine and Pickering, and what they would have thought about Gabby turning up in a coat cunningly fashioned from carpet sample books and a pair of cerise trousers Noddy Holder would have turned down for being a bit showy is anyone’s guess.

Gabby was assisted by the lovely Denise Lewis and Iwan Thomas the world’s oldest teenager, while adding a bit of decorum to proceedings was athletics commentator Paul Dickenson, although it did all smack of a school sports day.

Sadly there will be nothing that lives as long in the memory as Kevin Keegan falling off his bike, Stan Bowles shooting a table or Malcolm McDonald possessing the then fastest pair of sideburns before Wiggo was even on a Chopper.

The closest we came to disaster was in the archery when Christine Ohuruogu, who had remembered to turn up, let one arrow fly off camera, where we expected to see a man impaled in a white coat carrying a sample bottle but it wasn’t to be.

Other points of note included Farah actually not being very good at anything other than running quite a long way and his kayaking heat in which he bobbed up and down in a swimming pool like a duck in a trance showed that the Mo-boat will not be a popular celebration to be repeated ad nauseum.

It was nice to see Rebecca Adlington, there to coach the swimming, win a race against Michael Jamieson doing the breast stroke and Thomas, making up for the disappointment of winning bronze at the Olympics.

“What a day we’ve had,” said Gabby at the denouement of Day One. “Despair, joy, agony, ecstasy — and lots of rain as well.” No bad thing, at least it kept those trousers covered up.

Keegan would have put the knee out of them as finally we got to see what we were all waiting for but as Gabby told us ‘there was no long-lasting damage’. Are you joking, his perm was ruined.

There was another abrupt ending in store as golden girl (well, woman) Katherine Grainger had to pull out of the gym tests after hurting her shoulder. Expect the rower to roar back to finally win gold in the 2028 Superstars.

The gym tests were always a highlight, meaning the obligatory shots of a red and sweating Brian Jacks in shiny shorts going up and down like a kangaroo on a pogo stick.

The squat thrusts proved manageable for most, although sneakily they had nailed two dart oches onto the board to stop people sliding but the dips proved slightly more problematic for some with cyclist Lizzie Armistead managing two in a minute. Two? Never mind Brian Jacks, Hattie Jacques could manage more than that.

In the end the titles went to boxer Anthony Joshua and Helen Glover, one of the rowers who isn’t Grainger, but there was some sporting fight at the end from runner-up Jade Jones.

The taekwondo exponent told Iwan that ‘I’ll train my ar*e off if we’re back next year,” as BBC officials quickly looked down at the ground, shuffled their feet and started whistling.

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