Did we like it?
We’ve seen the real atrocities of the world, but nothing could have prepared us for this pogrom of decency in which Sunday’s Celebrity World Cup was previewed.
What was good about it?
• Comedian Omid Djalili hanging on to his dignity as he spoke about his role as player/manager of the Iranian team.
• Ed Hall did what he could with a rancid script but the apparent exclusion zone that forbids him from coming within a hundred miles of one of the main four channels will not be lifted after his association with this.
• The football on Sunday will be better.
What was bad about it?
• The tedious Sven spoof in which a bald bloke walked around London eyeing up young women. Only about two years late.
• The pathetic way in which resident commentator Gary Bloom’s words were pasted with all the expertise of a chimpanzee performing heart surgery on to matches which he did not commentate on at the time. What made matters worse was the attempt to enhance the deception by adding a little white noise to the broadcasts to make them sound more authentic. It’s a shame as we quite like Gary Bloom as a commentator, but it’s because we like him that we know only in his fantasies would he be working on the 1999 Man Utd v Arsenal FA Cup Semi Final and not Foggia v Piacenza in Serie A.
• Ray Walker and the staged football cliché version of catchphrase between two bimbos in the local pub.
• This hour of TV could have kidnapped while enjoying an undeserved holiday in Colombia and put up for ransom, and nobody would have come forward to offer a penny.
• The residents of Birmingham who were interviewed about the competition being held in their city. Most had the air of being hired from the local drama schools to be overenthusiastic and insincere, but lacked any impassioned spontaneity. “I can’t wait for the Celebrity World Cup to come to town,” bellowed one. “It will rock!” Nobody who has ever felt their lungs burning as they run through on goal anywhere from the Nou Camp to the local park would ever use the phrase “it rocks” to describe their emotions; such words come from the fetid pens of out-of-touch scriptwriters.
• The casual stereotyping of nationalities. “When you think of Italians you think of food.” “Everyone thinks Americans know nothing about football.”
• The depths of facileness plumbed new depths that even this year’s Big Brother will struggle to match. A feature on Birmingham’s whistles factory was justified by every whistle at the 2002 World Cup being manufactured there. What’s worse was that a referee then picked out a whistle from the range that the factory produced. We’re sure we did not dream this. Well, almost sure.
• The teams seem to have been allocated players and managers with the same care and precision of a farmer spraying cow dung at a crumbling wall as a stopgap to fill the holes. The only thing many of them had in common was that they were the typical celebrity parasites you would expect to find on such a show.
• Caprice, you remember her? Well, she is England’s manager. We can’t remember why she was given that role as we were too busy looking for a rope and a sturdy beam at the time. There then followed an interview in which she gushed forth the usual rubbish that people who know nothing about football gush forth in order to give themselves some credibility.
• Introducing a piece about the media and football, Ed Hall stated: “The press can make or break a player’s career.” That is simply a lie. Football, above almost all other ‘celebrity’ areas, is determined by talent and talent alone. Although Hall’s insistence that the press had a role to play did crystallise just how little this programme had to do with football as the members of the “press” interviewed weren’t sports journalists but ‘celebrity’ hacks such as Caroline Fereday, whose portrait of Dorian Gray seems to have been discovered in her attic, Lucie Cave of Heat and the nonentity of all nonentities Neil Sean.
• Even the adverts in the breaks offered no respite from crushing banality such as Scarlett Johansson’s awful acting in the L’Oreal commercial; the terminally spinster gossips in the Kit Kat ad opening their Kit Kats in the way people in Kit Kat ads always open their Kit Kats but which is alien to the way the public open their Kit Kats; Pizza Hut employing the phrase “Do the maths”; and one of those ubiquitous World Cup ads, which this time featured the Brazilian national team performing some of their tiresome and utterly unimpressive tricks while down in Hell Old Nick is stoking their souls in his biggest furnace dressed in a Nike shirt and Air Max trainers while a make up lady with the face of gurning lizard pulls out the hairs of Eric Cantona’s beard follicle by follicle.
• Goldie Lookin’ Chain, the festering leper colony of British music, will represent Wales while Sian Lloyd will manage them. Sian seems to be incapable of speaking in any other format other than clichés. “I want my boys to play with fire in their bellies,” she simpered, in no way echoing the trite sentiments of a thousand Welsh local newspaper previews of each year’s Six Nations. She also wore sunglasses in the evening gloom, perhaps scared that people wouldn’t recognise the “jungle survivor”.
• Tony Christie is England captain. It’s at moments like this you plead for nuclear holocaust.
• Jeff Winter is the referee. Or a huge asteroid smashing into Earth would do the job just as well.
• John Leslie will play in goal for Scotland. At least cancel the proper World Cup as it has so much shame attached to it now because of the most tenuous connection with the Celebrity World Cup.