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Television review: The London Marathon, Masters Golf and Hillsborough

File photo dated 13/04/2014 of Great Britain's Mo Farah after finishing in eighth place during the Virgin Money London Marathon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday April 14, 2014.Mo Farah has vowed to bounce back from his disappointing marathon debut like a champion. See PA story ATHLETICS London. Photo credit should read: John Walton/PA Wire ATHLETICS_London_075510.JPG

File photo dated 13/04/2014 of Great Britain's Mo Farah after finishing in eighth place during the Virgin Money London Marathon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday April 14, 2014.Mo Farah has vowed to bounce back from his disappointing marathon debut like a champion. See PA story ATHLETICS London. Photo credit should read: John Walton/PA Wire ATHLETICS_London_075510.JPG

The Standard’s resident small screen examiner James Waller-Davies takes a look at the week on television.

After nigh on two years’ build-up, we finally nearly got what we were waiting for. But didn’t.

It was the ‘No Mo Show’ at the London Marathon (BBC1). Our gold medal winning hero from London 2012 bravely ran after the world (no), European (no), British (no) marathon records, but did finally manage to be the fastest in his house over the 26 mile distance.

Poor Mo. The weight of expectation placed on him was of world-carrying, Atlas proportions. Up against the best of those who do the marathon all the time was always going to be a long shot for the man who’d never run one ever before.

His predicted win coming from the team of fortune-tellers who brought you Ashes cricket success last winter and an England World Cup trophy this summer.

Rather unsportingly, those more used to it ran away from Mo leaving him to experience the loneliness of the long distance runner all by himself in the middle of our TV screens.

The Masters Golf (BBC2) from the picturesque perfect Augusta National golf course tightened its tension screw from Thursday through to Sunday night.

If Walt Disney ever designed a golf course, the Augusta National is what he’d come up with. It was planted and manicured with HD TV in mind. It is also excruciatingly difficult in places: like playing marbles on polished air.

Covering golf on television is the sports presentation equivalent of conducting an orchestra. The producer has 18 different areas of action to cover, plus practice areas and interviews, all with establishing shots, mid-shots, close-ups, reaction shots of players - and all commentated on by the dulcet, hushed tones of Peter Alliss, or someone who always sounds just like Peter Alliss.

The only annoyance was the foghorns yelling “get in the hole” after each tee-shot with the same enthusiasm and misplaced anticipation as the people who predicted the Mo Farah win. In sport, the expectation of success is almost as good as success itself: at the Masters, it’s almost as loud too.

Sometimes the silence of sport is more powerful. It was 25 years ago last week that sport on television had one of the moments that define part of its history.

The Hillsborough disaster at the Liverpool verses Nottingham Forest FA Cup semi-final in 1989 is for sports fans their “JFK moment”. They know where they were, where they watched it and who they watched it with.

I was at home in North Wales on holiday. It was a beautiful spring day and I’d had to mow the grass before sitting down to an afternoon’s footie.

The pictures of that afternoon are as clear today as they were then, but the sound has gone. In the memory it is a silent montage of suffering.

Sport on television is part of us. All human life is present: in triumphs, celebrations, disappointments and sometimes tragedy, real tragedy.

The television pictures showed us all too graphically what happened that day. Perhaps the families of the 96 can now finally find out why it happened.

 

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