YES, I know I’m interested in sport. And yes, I know I work in journalism. But let me say one thing right now. If anyone buys me Piers Morgan’s new sports DVD ‘The Good, The Gaffes and The Ugly’ for Christmas, I will disown them.
At my age, I realise that I should be grateful to get anything for Christmas. And I realise that, in the olden days, you got a satsuma and a walnut, and you were grateful. But believe me, I would rather receive a walnut for Christmas than a video lecture from the former editor of the Daily Mirror-turned-Britain’s Got Talent’s answer to Simon Cowell telling me how terrible Britain is at sport.
I once knew someone who knew someone who worked on the Mirror with Morgan. They said he was charismatic and charming. That’s my Piers Morgan anecdote. It’s not much of a story, I know, but it is at least 100 per cent factually accurate, which is more than can be said for one or two sections of ‘The Insider’. (I’m not suggesting that Piers made up any of the events in that book, by the way, just that he may be mistaken in his assertions as to when they actually happened.)
Morgan can play the pantomime villain very effectively, and is a world-class self-publicist. Unfortunately, he’s just not very witty. This article in the Daily Mail promoting said DVD is a good example of his sledgehammer approach to humour. Reading it hurts my head. If I want to be hectored and shouted at for a long period of time, I’ll go back to working in a call centre.
There’s a strict formula to making these kind of DVDs. Brash, loud talking head (insert name of comedy panel game whore, Radio 1 DJ or ex-tabloid editor here) gets increasingly exasperated introducing a series of clips of sportspeople making fools of themselves (usually including a disproportionately large selection of own goals from 1970s Colchester United games or from the Dutch League circa 1985). Maybe rope in one or two media-friendly ex-sporting pros to make fun of themselves in the background. Use reheated jokes from ‘They Think It’s All Over’ in sarcastic over-dubbed commentary. Film in a day, edit in a week, and it’s on the shelves in time to buy as a Christmas present for someone you don’t really like that much.
Way back in the early 1990s, Danny Baker started all of this off with ‘Own Goals and Gaffs’. Now those of you who have bothered to read this far (about 12 of you, if the blog stats are anything to go by) will have noticed the misspelling of ‘gaffes’. I think this was done deliberately, as a subtle joke; a bit of self-deprecation on the part of Baker and the video distributor.
Such subtlety (deliberate or otherwise) has long since packed up and headed for the retirement home. Now we get Morgan, hectoring, shouting, telling us how terrible everything is.
And after that, all I want for Christmas is a pair of ear muffs.