Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Billy on the Box: The Power and the glory as arts meets the darts

There are moments in television history that live long in the memory — the moon landings, Lulu the elephant doing a whoopsy on Blue Peter, Basil Fawlty giving his car a damned good thrashing, and the epic final scene of Blackadder goes Forth when Baldrick et al went over the top.

And while General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett may have been well behind enemy lines in the latter, his real life incarnation — Stephen Fry — was back, larger than life, to man the trenches with Corporal Sidney Waddell and Private Rodney Harrington for the climax of the Premier League darts.

There had been a false start on Sunday evening as a power cut at Wembley meant that hundreds of people dressed in bizarre costumes were left to wander the street aimlessly, including Fry who was due to commentate but was sent to mingle with the great unwashed instead.

Of course darts is more Tony Green than Graham Greene but if it's Power and glory you're after then look no further than Phil Taylor.

There weren't that many whisky priests about, strange given who sponsors the Premier League, but plenty of lager worshippers had made the return pilgrimage to Wembley the following night, along with Fry who also brought 50p for the meter.

It is an unlikely marriage, a bit like Cheryl and Ashley, but let's hope this one carries on for a bit longer as Fry's stint with Waddell was wonderful.

There is a precedent for this of course, who could forget Sir Laurence Olivier joining the commentary team for Pot Black, Sir John Gielgud helping out Jackie Cummings in the 1989 Irish Cup Final and Sir Alec Guinness' stint in the booth when Armagh won the All-Ireland. Okay, that may all be lies, but it is any more surreal than Fry's hero being Cliff Lazarenko?

So while Sid and Stephen were going on about Othello, Richard III and Henry V, you wondered if Rod was colouring in his book, but he, like the rest of us, was too busy guffawing at the antics of the Cambridge darts blues.

Taylor was almost a sideshow, but he provided the inspiration for the bards of the board to wax lyrical.

“He could hit the dandruff on a fly's forlock,” screamed Sid, as Fry retorted with a contented sigh and added “I'm as happy as a pig in chardonnay.”

And once the King was toppled, Mervyn I, not Richard or Henry, it was all over. Or almost.

“Once upon a time he was breaking all records, now he's only breaking his heart, nothing he can do, a total eclipse of the darts,” concluded Sid but for once he didn't have the last word.

That, appropriately belonged to Fry, who helpfully suggested that it was by 'Bonnie Taylor'.

Oh and then there was the small matter of the final and possibly the greatest match of all time, two nine-dart finishes, almost a third for the Power and yet another moment of glory.

Fittingly he received his prize from Fry. Two master craftsmen, as unlikely a partnership as you could see.

I wonder if Cheryl still has my number?

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