Johnny And Al's Olympics On TV

Johnny and Al are rather enjoying the BBC's coverage of the Olympics, but they have one nagging thought: If only Alan Shearer could be more like Clare Balding...

Last Updated: 01/08/12 at 17:25 Post Comment

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We've just this minute come off the Olympic tickets omnishambles website. There was the offer to buy women's football final tickets at 45 quid a pop; click on them, go through to the payment screen and "Hi there. Here are the 125 pound tickets you wanted."

Shurely shome mishtake? Apparently not. We tried several times. Seems that the ticketing website is clever enough to bump you to the more expensive tickets when none of the affordable ones are available, but not clever enough to display only the tickets that are actually on sale.

So 125 English poundingtons for tickets for the Olympics women's football final? No thanks. After all, that could pay our wine bill for two whole days.

We have enjoyed a lot of the football so far, but do not consider it to be a proper Olympic event, on the grounds that it is not the pinnacle of the sport. Ditto tennis. Quite clearly any male footballer would rather win the World, European or even League Challenge Cup than an Olympic medal, which irreparably devalues the contest. For UK fans, we are being asked to support a team that doesn't even exist beyond this fortnight, though the women's team especially want it to do so.

Admittedly, given the size and global prestige of the women's game, and the fact that the women's World Cup is still just a curiosity for many fans, the Olympics is much nearer to the top table than it is for the men and we were delighted to see over 70,000 watching the Brazil game on Tuesday, but even still. 125 quid? Nah.

The Olympics give you time to enjoy sports that we would normally never witness such as Water Crochet or Cross-Dressing Polo Shirt Wearing...or something.

We want to give a shout out to the BBC for their nightly round-up shot with Gabby Logan. This has been superb so far, with Gabby interviewing Olympic legends about the day's action. Ian Thorpe (who uniquely seems to be part athlete, part camp fashion model) and Carl Lewis were on together a couple of nights ago and gave a fascinating insight into the mentality of competition and the agony of training.

Greg Louganis, pretty much the most charming man in the world, was great on Tom Daley. Michael Johnson, as ever, has been trenchant and unafraid to go against the editorial party line - rejecting the assertion that Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian ever, for instance. There have been amusing bits, too, such as Johnson and John McEnroe discussing the finer points of equestrianism (Johnson: "she had to raise the horse's head up, or whatever") but the BBC have largely and sensibly stuck to the idea of having these great athletes convey to the viewer a sense of the fanatical dedication, discipline and mental toughness required to succeed.

It has been fascinating to watch, often moving and inspiring, and very often educational. The difference between the wretched, cliche-packed, half-hearted efforts of your Alan Shearers has been marked. Let's hope that BBC recognises that they can and should demand more of their regular highly paid football pundits.

We must also say Clare Balding has been utterly magnificent so far. Like a modern-day Des Lynam (there is no greater praise we can give), she's never afraid to be intelligent or well-versed and yet manages to wear that learning lightly. At times during live broadcasts from the swimming pool, she has been the model of cool erudition, skating faultlessly across the slippery glacier of live broadcasting where anything can and does go wrong. The art of just talking naturally to the viewer as though you are in the room with her is not easy, indeed very few on TV can do it and no-one in sport is in the same league as Clare Balding right now.

Dominating the agenda for the chattering classes over the last day or so has been the strange case of the numbskull who done a Twitter at Tom Daley. We are a little conflicted on this. Anyone who has ever done anything even vaguely in the public eye - from top level sport or showbiz right on down to writing about football on the Internet - knows that ridiculously violent reactions and totally unwarranted personal abuse are a fact of life. Is some little scrote abusing the People's Diver a matter for the police? If so, then we could personally fully occupy Plod most weeks.

Of course, we have no idea if the abuser in this case had his own troubles, but it certainly seems to us that some people are transferring anger from themselves to other people in such instances. However, if a well-publicized visit from the Rozzers persuades people to behave like decent, civilized sentient beings in such environments then perhaps it will be for the good.

Alternatively, a good stiff talking to from Claire Balding may be the answer to, well, pretty much all of society's problems.

John Nicholson and Alan Tyers

Alan has ghost-written a book for Premier League legend Ronnie Matthews.

It is called 'I Kick Therefore I Am' and you can check it out here.

And read Johnny's book, 'The Meat Fix' here or buy tickets to see him at the Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival here.

Follow Alan on Twitter here.

Or Johnny here.

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