Belfast Telegraph

Time to blow final whistle on sporting entertainment

By Billy Weir

Another week, another batch of former sporting folk turning up where you least expect it, or in the case of Play To The Whistle, where you wish you'd never found them.

This week alone we had Gary Lineker popping up on Room 101, Shane Williams and Tanni Grey Thompson on The Chase and then Tom Daley up against Frank Lampard in the first of the new series of Play To The Whistle, or PTTW as the Twitterati call it.

It is basically a poor man's version of A League of Their Own, although with James Corden's role taken by Holly Willoughby and with even worse material.

So, what's it all about? I'll let Holly explain. It's a 'comedy sports show that mixes comedy and sports like a Tyson Fury press conference," she said, but in reality it's like having your toenails plucked out one by one with a pair of pliers and then they're handed to Rick Stein to turn them into a tasty dish for you to eat. Expect Channel Four to nip in for the rights for this.

We did learn that poor Tom Daley was 'very busy preparing for the Olympics', which means six hours a day, six hours a week. And they say nurses have it tough? Although, in fairness, when a nurse has to give Mrs Goggins an enema she doesn't do it with three twists, a somersault and a double pike, so, apologies Tom.

The madcap japes have rounds such as Quiz Eubank and Bolt to the Whistle, with my particular favourite one where the two teams are asked if they think a sport is real or made-up. This week's were water jousting and wood chopping, which were real, which may be a recurring theme as we used video to answer the question. If they aren't real, it will be hard to do this, although Channel Five will buy the rights.

But they all missed out on the biggest sporting celeb of them all, as Beckham's 25 Years of Sky Sports, hit the screens, where Kirsty Gallacher told us that to guide us through a quarter of century of satellite-based sporting shenanigans 'we have enlisted one of the true icons of British sport'.

It would have been a nice twist had Victoria turned up but the role of woman in a sprayed on frock was already taken and Mr Beckham was in the studio, to be asked what his earliest sporting memories were.

"I just remember watching VCR with my dad because he taped everything, we used to watch all Man Utd's games," he said. If a child was forced to do that these days, they'd be calling in Esther Rantzen.

An hour - it seemed longer - of Becks talking about 'his' top 10 moments followed, mostly football, but with Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Ricky Hatton and Tiger Woods thrown in for a bit of balance.

"There's certain sportsmen over the years you would go to pay and watch," he said of Mr Woods, and you wondered just when was the last time he had paid to see anything.

"He had that mental strength that he can get out of any situation," he added, which wasn't strictly true, as Mrs Woods proved and didn't help by adding 'I'm sure he had an amazing family around him." Let's move on before someone suggests hiring a good personal assistant.

But as Sky and Becks look forward to the next 25 years, at least he can breathe a sigh of relief that he can tape over the video with Play To The Whistle on it, that's more horror than sports-based comedy show.

Belfast Telegraph


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