Johnny And Al's Wor Al On TV

Alan Shearer interviewing Wayne Rooney. It's difficult to even get annoyed about it, because...it's just there, isn't it? It's pointless, but not offensively bad, so what's the point?

Last Updated: 08/06/12 at 15:06 Post Comment

Well, if you weren't already excited about the Euros, you certainly would have been after the BBC's Monday night Football Focus. Right? Right?

The BBC has come under fire (yet) again of late. Apparently the sort of people who get annoyed about these sort of things thought that coverage of the Jubilee was insufficiently wondrous and magical. As if sitting there for eight hours going "Oh look...a boat...another boat...a boat...isn't the Queen great?" was ever going to be an easy gig. Or an exciting listen.

They also took some flack recently for getting the former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan to do interviews at the (golf) Masters. Some people felt that he was rubbish, others thought that maybe this should be the sort of job that, y'know, a broadcast journalist should be doing.

Anyhow, the corporation for once refused to pander to the sniping of its myriad critics and, when handed the opportunity to interview Wayne Rooney on its flagship preview programme, selected very much the best man for the job.

Alan Shearer, OBE.

Oh goody. After his brilliant investigative work in the 2010 World Cup - "What was Apartheid like?" - the boy from Gosforth has now added 'interviewer' to his CV. We think it's reasonable to assume that David Frost's pants remain unshat.

Highlights included asking Wazza: "Was scoring more goals this season a conscious effort or has the manager told you to get in there and score more goals?" Now, we knew Sir Alex Ferguson is a genius, but this brainwave to have his striker kick the ball in the goal more often might yet be his masterpiece.

Obviously it would be beyond question that Shearer might ask the boy Rooney anything challenging in the interview. "Do you feel you have let your team-mates down by being suspended for these first two games?" "What is the mood in the squad about Rio and John Terry?" "Do you have much affection for England fans or does your to-camera outburst at them in the last World Cup reflect your true feelings?" But surely this was a chance for one fine English centre forward to maybe draw out some insight from England's most potent attacking threat about how their craft if performed?

Of course not. Instead, pointless questions, dull answers. Afterwards, we were back to Dan Walker, who asked Shearer if he'd asked Rooney about his hair. Shearer laughed mightily and said that he had. This wasn't in the interview. What is the point?

Moving on, "Is tika taka toast?" pre-preparedly quipped Walker. Shearer looked at him like he had soiled himself. Come on Al, team game and that.

The BBC's standard defence when accused of making a rubbish programme is to say, well most people quite liked it or just ignored it in favour of having a more fulfilling life away from the screen. After all, it's just the telly.

So if a few thousand complain that they didn't enjoy watching Fearne Cotton pulling mice out of her arse on Tower Bridge instead of reading out passages from AJP Taylor's book on Elizabethan politics or offering an intellectual overview of gunboat diplomacy in the 19th century, they know the vast majority don't really care either way and feel free to carry on regardless.

And so it is with such football chats. They surely know Big Al is no interviewer and the talk with Rooney virtually worthless, but they also know it doesn't really matter and that no-one really cares that much. The football obsessive and aficionado have already gone elsewhere to learn about what system Poland might play, info on the new French full-back or indeed anything outside of the bleedin' obvious. We already know this is not the place for us.

Which leads us to wonder just who such Football Focus interviews really are for and why they even bother. Obviously, they're not for anyone with a genuine interest in football. At 10.45 at night it's hardly water-cooler moment celebrity gossip stuff either. The football tourist is in bed or knocking one out to the naked channel.

It's not light and frothy, nor intense and deep. Rather, it is almost nothing at all. It's not even bad, which would at least give it some character. It's on...and that's about it. This isn't awful television; some might say it's worse, that it's just vapid and irrelevant; a mutual self-indulgence of irrelevance.

We won't ring the BBC to complain because that would be to over-rate its importance. But is that what the BBC really want?

John Nicholson and Alan Tyers

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