Formula One grand finale deserts us all
Exploding and cracking roads in the searing heat of the Middle East, as engines roar in the background, can mean only one thing - there's an exciting end of season nail-biter in store for Formula One.
That was the plan on Sunday. It was all set up perfectly for the BBC, the plucky little Englishman determined to stave off the evil advances of a nasty, blue-eyed, blonde-haired German to bring the World Championship back to Blighty. Even though he's a Finn.
A few years ago they would probably have had poppies super-imposed on a dreamy film montage of Lewis Hamilton as Jerusalem played in the background as Nico Rosberg was bayoneted only this time it was that exploding highway in the desert as a booming voice, errr, boomed : "This is it, Race 19, Abu Dhabi."
The reality though was a little different as the most exciting denouement ever to a Grand Prix season had all the drama of your mum coming in and switching off your Scalextric because she couldn't hear Highway.
No such problems for the Beeb, who spared no expense by enlisting two child actors to represent little Lewis and nasty Nico to re-enact the season using Scalextric, the highlight of which being the latter knocking Hamilton Jnr's car off the track bringing a pained cry of "I'm not your friend."
Then a mum, not mine, came in and demanded: "Lewis, let Nico go past on this lap, please," and the huffing started and he didn't seem to listen. She should have said it Lauda. I'll get my coat… and overalls.
With the preliminaries over it was time for the build-up proper and Suzi Perry's voice crackled like an Abu Dhabi highway.
"What a story, what a bone-tingling prospect we have ahead of us today," she promised.
"The entire 19-race season comes down to this, the title decider. Welcome to the desert duel," and to make sure we knew how crucial it was, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard hyped up the hyperbole.
"They are on tenterhooks, we can't believe what's going to happen," said Jordan, while Coulthard clearly didn't read the Basil Fawlty memo to 'not mention the war.'
"He says he wants to go to war, so he's going to have to have all his ammunition locked and loaded if he wants to get in front of Nico," he said, but in reality, Hamilton could have won with a pea-shooter.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, or Big Bad as he's known now, put a damp squib on things, stating in stereotypically ebullient German fashion (or is he a Finn?) that "it doesn't work to make a script in Formula One."
Pah, what does he know. Jordan was more of a romantic.
"Every championship decider throws up something special so don't rule anything out," and I was braced for excitement.
"What I really don't want to see is a procession," he added. Don't worry Eddie, it'll be grand.
"It's almost been like a pantomime this season, with goodies and baddies at various different moments," suggested Suzi and so, did we get that epic battle? Oh no we didn't!
"Here it is then, the last chance for Lewis or Nico to bring it home, the desert duel live from Abu Dhabi, this is the 2014 final showdown," concluded Suzi, and she handed over to commentator Ben Edwards.
"Hamilton's made a good start and he's taken the lead," he screamed, and that was that as Jordan's procession he didn't want materialised and Nico's knackered Merc meant Lewis could have gone round on a camel.
Mind you, it wasn't a camel but a pussycat who threatened to steal the limelight as Nicole Scherzinger had the presence of mind to hijack almost every angst-ridden view of the garage and you wonder what she sees in the newly-crowned World Champion.
So all that was left was for the winners to party long into the night, with non-alcoholic fizzy stuff. Indeed there was quite a shindig put on, and Fred Flintstone was in attendance.
Yes, there was an Abu Dhabi do...
The good, the bad and the ugly
The good: Manchester City finally announced themselves on the European stage with the 3-2 humiliation of a 10-man Bayern Munich team who had already qualified. It didn’t stop ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley though from going all unnecessary on us as the winner went in: “It’s him again, it is Aguerrrroooooo…” he screamed as wee Sergio completed his hat-trick. Like Europe, Martin Tyler must be quaking in his boots.
The bad: Rob Curling, a presenter who you all know but wouldn’t swear was him until you Googled it, proudly announced that British Eurosport were live and in person at the Davis Cup final between France and Switzerland at the weekend. One word — why? Surely they would have been better to have sent him to Switzerland for the European Curling Championships, instead of Rob Tennis. I made that last bit up.
The ugly: Who would ever have thought that on a night when Robbie Savage was on Match of the Day that he wouldn’t be the most annoying hairy thing on show. No, that honour belongs to Gary Lineker’s offering for Movember. He looks like a cross between a musketeer and Gary Neville circa 1995.