BBC Scotland’s spoof history of the World Cup, Tackle.
LISTINGS: 61 VIDEO 61
Deep in the bowels of the BBC, a small band of dedicated scholars are preparing a balm — for those smitten by World Cup fever, as Ross Parsons found out.
By 8 July, one fifth of the World’s population will have tuned into it. I mean of course the World Cup. No other televised event on the globe even comes near it. Hostilities in Beirut are suspended, pickpockets half their business in Naples, Brazilian businesses shut down and the streets are deserted as the matches are beamed live from Italy. The Mondiale has a marketing potential that leaves the Americans (hosts in 1994) drooling at the mouth. For Scotland, its greatest potential is for tragicomedy.
Fortunately, the nation has the strange ability to simultaneously be passionately committed to Scotland’s success yet able to mock our own zeal. It’s on this dichotomy that BBC Radio Scotland’s Only an Excuse and Only a World Cup programmes have thrived. The shows successfully punctured the self-inﬂated football pundits in Scotland. Now, two days before the World Cup Final, the team behind the radio shows will venture onto the small screen for the ﬁrst time to present Tackle: The True Story of the World Cup.
The programme’s basis resembles the famed Rattles documentary, with a clever blending of fact and fiction providing a believable history. It will not concentrate solely on Scotland’s
inglorious past, though inevitably 1978 features heavily. ‘Ifit comes on the news that Ally Macleod has contracted some sort of terminal disease we’ll have to lose about ten minutes from the video,’ lamented Phil Differ — an inexhaustable source of good footballing anecdotes and the show’s producer. Tackle takes on a more international ﬂavour than the ethnocentric radio shows: foreign teams of the past get it in the neck just as much as Scottish teams. ‘We have a feature on Romeo Bastardo from the Italian side in 82, whom Gentille described as “a crude amateur who gives cynical fouling a bad name.” Also the 40min history contains hitherto unseen footage of the eternal search for a new Pele in Brazil. Besides Zico — ‘the white Pele’, there is Alberto Balsamo — ‘the elegantly coiffured Pele’, Odour — ‘the smelly
Pele’ and Quitegoodiniho — ‘the no way is he anything like Pele’.
Weaving the old footage together are the silken tones of Kenneth Wolstenholme — the grand old man of British sports commentating. His was the unflappable voice that described England’s triumph in the 1966 tournament, which we will never be allowed to forget. Getting Wolstenholme was quite a coup for the programme. Differ had nothing but praise for the old pro, ‘His timing on things is fantastic. he‘s really been into it, really enjoying it. It‘s quite funny hearing him say on the tape the Costa Rica result was a real scunner — by the way. And he’d no problem with saying things like “Geoff Hurst was the only man ever to score a two-goal hat-trick”.’
In preparation for the programme the production team spent months sifting through miles ofold football footage, mainly BBC copyright though other sources were utilised. ‘So far there’s only one piece of footage that we can’t use and that’s the Swedish Opening Ceremony in 1958. (The trailer has the Swedes dancing nude). It wasn’t because of any full-frontals or anything like that but the owner of the film who is a serious nudist in Germany phoned up and said she was worried we were going to use it in a derogatory way.’ Perhaps she hadn’t heard of Differ’s involvement with Naked Video.
In order to include the latest footballing dramas the programme will be in production right up to the last minute. At the time oftalking to Differ the possibility of Scotland’s progression posed a real problem ‘You can’t really take the piss if they’re beating people.’ Unfortunately, they can now relax on that front.
The dissection of our footballing heritage could have gone on till the sun was low over the cross-bar, but for Differ it was back to the editing suite. In case anyone still doubted that the televising of the World Cup has shrunk the world, Tackle came up with a commentator in Oban interspersing his Gaelic with words like libero and then soaring to a climactic ‘Mackintosh, GOOOAAAL, Mac—kin—tosh!’ You’d never get Wolstenholme carrying on like that.
Tackle, Friéluly (BBCI) 9.30—10. 10pm.
‘Oh, magnificent shotl' Once again the dulcet tones of Dan Maskell ring out .across the nation as ten million suckers for punishment settle down to another fortnight at Wimbledon.
It's another one of those peculiarly British institutions more to do with celebrating eccentricity than enjoying sport. it’s also a lasclnatlng TV soap
opera. Watching tennis as a sport is
about as exciting as England’s World Cup performances, but the personalities and egos on display make for riveting television for all the family.
Forteenyboppers, Boris Becker’s buttocks are of more interest than his backhand, while older members of the family can hiss at traditional targets like John McEnroe, or adopt obscure new heroes from Eastern Europe. For those misguided patriots wishing to cheer on British players, the minor tournaments are usually the best bet.
' There's a rumour we could be In with a
chance of winning the blindfolded mixed doubles plate this year.
Such drama doesn't come cheap. Twenty-two cameras, 420 monitors and overloo microphones are necessary to give you those close-ups of McEnroe spitting his Boblnsons Barley Water all over the ball-boys. in their latest efforts to keep the tennis aficionado happy, the BBC will be displaying the running score in the top-comer of your screen, and introducing a special early morning
programme on 8802. And you thought the World Cup was overkill.
At the centre of this circus is the man himself: Dan Maskell nicknamed ‘The Voice Of Wimbledon and Not Dead Yet'. He's been commentatlng for41 years, and has not missed a single day's play since 1929. Frightening really, but Dan’s continued passion for the game and his fruity vowels excitedly celebrating another ‘splendld pass’ are ample testimony to the benefits of a steady diet of strawberries and cream. (Tom Lappln)
The List 29June— 12.luly 199083