JONATHAN MCEVOY: The BBC is funded nearly £4bn annually by UK taxpayers, but decided to show ‘solidarity’ with Gary Lineker
- Match of the Day robbed us of being richly informed by top broadcasters
- The BBC could have provided us with more facts and figures during the broadcast
- There was no total unanimity from the BBC in support of Lineker this week
Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, literally no one was at the BBC on Saturday night to read us the Premier League table on the most celebrated channel in the history of global television.
Not a junior, not a runner, not the boy who does the makeup, or the boy/girl who wants to get over dead bodies.
Really, there wasn’t even an extra at the BBC left to perform that ritual because the staff of the Beeb, which is funded by you and me nearly £4 billion a year, had decided it was in ‘solidarity’ with Gary Lineker. They could have done more to make us enjoy watching football and give us more facts and figures but someone felt they shouldn’t and wouldn’t.
That’s how it was. We have a 20 minute Match of the Day show. And there wasn’t even the theme song that Barry Stoller wrote to kick it off. How hard would it have been to include that in the broadcast if there had been the will to do so?
All we got was this explanation at the beginning… before commentary was silent: ‘We’re sorry we can’t show our normal game of the day, including commentary tonight, but here are the games of the day.’ A corner kick and then crowd noise guided our interpretation of events, starting with Bournemouth-Liverpool, and no other guidance.
Match of the Day robbed us of being informed by broadcasters like Gary Lineker
It was an unusual experience and the BBC could have provided more facts and figures
Was this progress in the art of TV? No actually. As much as you’d like to joke that it was better without Shearer and Wright and Lineker expounding their bons mots, it wasn’t. We are better informed if top broadcasters do their job as we would like.
Beyond the horizon, if one might question St. Gary and his disciples, ahem, we’ve got this incoming news for a few well-paid football pundits and broadcasters. It’s this: some of those who watch BBC television sports, perhaps several million viewers, may be the kind of people who do good deeds in hospices, or drive the sick to heart wards, or give the homeless soup, or marmalade for church, or organize fast lunches to raise money that brings food to the tables of poor Africans. A few of them – funny this – could, conceivably, vote Tory.
The likes of Alan Shearer and Ian Wright usually offer helpful insights on Match of the Day
And regardless of their voting record or intentions, like me, they may not want to be berated in their spare time by a sports presenter who just happens to not be the very best history teacher in the world.
Admittedly, there is a hint of mutiny in BBC sport right now. We saw that on Saturday when Gary’s friends and other well-known names withdrew their services. Football Focus was abolished. Final score was mothballed.
But was there total unanimity within the Beeb’s ranks in support of Lineker? Not from what I heard. A major figure in BBC Sport over the past 40 years sent me an unsolicited note saying there was little sympathy for him among staff. In that conversation, Lineker was described as an “overpaid presenter,” who had dictated his own terms for too long.
There was no total unanimity from the BBC in support of Lineker this week
A major figure in BBC Sport over the past 40 years sent me an unsolicited note saying there was little sympathy among staff for Lineker
A former member of the Corporation’s staff wondered if Lineker would have incapacitated himself by resigning if the boot was on a different, slightly less golden base?
A former member of the Corporation’s staff wondered if Lineker would have incapacitated himself by resigning if the boot was on a different, slightly less golden base? What if 5 Live’s Conor McNamara had spoken out about migration, or No. 10 wallpaper, or whatever? Or Robyn Cowen had? Or even had John Murray?