World Cup Special


There’s no escaping the World Cup on TV this summer. Even the drama departments have got in on the act with ITV’s An Evening With Gary Lineker and BBC 1 ’8 Fair Game, while BBC Scotland send the whole thing up in Only An Excuse.


n men's style magazines. currently proliferating

on the news-stands at a frightening rate. there‘s

one constant ingredient. in amongst the features

on expressing emotion. relating to your

masculinity. and eating quiche. it‘s inevitable that there‘ll be a substantial piece on soccer.

The reason is that these people appreciate the

quasi-genetic imprint of the round-ball game on the

modern male. in a world where sexual identities.

power roles. communication skills and the

advisability of facial hair are constant subjects of

agonising internal debate. everything stops when the winger cuts inside the full-back and heads for the bye-line.

Arthur Smith articulated this essential truth three years ago in his Edinburgh Fringe Play. An Evening With Gary Line/(er. which went on to become a West End smash. and inspired at least two spin—offs in Australia and the USA. Set during the I990 World Cup semi-final between England and West Germany. the action takes place in an lbiza hotel room where emotionally inadequate publisher Bill is watching

the game with his frustrated wife Monica and nerdish pal lan. Enter laddish travel writer Dart with whom Monica is having art affair. and the stage is set for a bedroom farce with a difference. fraught with misunderstandings and excruciatingly accurate evocations of old—fashioned maleness. This time though. the soccer is more important than the personal turmoil going on between the principals and. in the final act. the semi-divine figure of Gary Lineker is conjured up to sort things out. when a dens ex mue/zinu in a football jersey is the only way out.

The play managed to combine pointed digs at male obsessions. and plenty of soccer-related dialogue with some mighty fine jokes. and Granada Television‘s TV adaptation hasn‘t messed around with the format overmuch. Filmed on location in lbiza. the action is adjusted at little for the new medium. Smith was there to oversee the filming in January (wincing as the ever-professional actors dived into the icy swimming pool). ‘lt hasn‘t changed much from the stage play.‘ he says. ‘but we had to open it out a bit. ()ne hotel room interior is fine on stage. but doesn‘t look good on TV. so we‘ve filmed them arriving. and going outside the hotel to restaurants and stuff. bttt the basics are the same.‘ (He doesn‘t mention it. but he has tnanagcd to create

The cast try summoning up the spirit ol Gary while Paul Merton does his own thing.

a bit pan for himself as a Spanish taxi-driver).

Smith is as bemused as anyone by the runaway success of his creation. unconscious of the extent to which he‘d tapped into the popular male psyche. "i‘he play has become like an unruly adolescent son that you‘ve let out into the world.‘ he says. ‘It does its own thing. and occasionally comes back to say hello to its dad.‘

Granada were hoping for an all-star cast. but the best they could manage was alternative showbiz couple Caroline Quentin (Monica) and Paul Merton (the relentlessly anal Ian). Clive ()wen (Bill) and Martin Clunes (Dan) co—star. A certain former England soccer superstar was persuaded to appear in the title role though. fresh from a less-than- scintillating twilight career in Japan. How did they manage to get the clean-cut Gary on board?

‘A large stun of money might have had something to do with it.‘ suggests Smith. ‘Plus the fact that he‘s presented as a godlike figure. He‘s been to see the show a couple oftimes and enjoyed it. I suppose ifit had been called (Jury Lineker Is A Complete Arse/role it might well have been a different story.‘ (Tom Lappin)

An live/ting With Gary Line/(er is ()1! St'UHiS/l (m inert/(iv .limt’ [4 a! 8.30pm.

is for Jackie Charlton or ‘Big

Jack' as he will be known for the

duration of the toumament. Count up the references to fishing. Guinness. Shredded Wheat and the English provenance of most of his Ireland squad. if they exceed the number of Rothmans Jack gets through during the opening game.

of British TV pundits.

is for Losing. a word too banal

for self-respecting commentators

to contemplate using. Defeated sides are humbled. vanquished. pipped. robbed. crushed. overcome. destroyed. edged out. swallowed tip. eliminated. sent packing. shredded. despatchcd. have their dreams

l l l 1

the commentators are getting it about right.

is for .lurgen Klinsmann. proba-

bly the most reviled German

attacker since Hermann Goering. although the Luftwaffe leader at least had the decency not to roll around the area screaming ‘penalty ref‘ every time an opponent approached hint. Klinsmann's play- acting caused an opponent to be dis- missed in a recent European Cup match. and he will be the World (.‘up‘s number two villain (behind the irredeemable Maradona) in the eyes

8 The List 3- 16 June I994

destroyed. succumb to the inevitable. are brought back down to earth with a bump. taught a lesson. given a rude awakening. are out-thought and out- fought. book an early flight home. go out with all guns blazing. do them- selves no justice. let down their loyal support and give up the ghost.

is for Mottie. the BBC‘s

anally retentive John Motson

whose fondness for arcane statistics and exaggerated pronuncia- tions of foreign names regularly prove the man has no social life. ‘As you will remember. the Colombian

Chapulsat: No sex please, we're miss.

manager‘s brother-in-law has a large collection of World War I biplanes‘ is a typical Mottie conversational gambit.

is for New Order. generally

acclaimed as the only people to

ever come up with a decent World Cup song in 1990‘s ‘World in Motion‘ (featuring a rap from John Barnes that was more impressive than anything he‘s managed on the field since). The lrish anthem ‘Ole ()le ()le ()le‘ was painfully catchy if lyrically unambitious. This year the Village People have recorded the German squad song ‘Far Away in America‘. so prepare yourselves for Lothar Matthaus dressed up as a butch construction worker.

is for Orlando. destination of

many a cheapo Florida lly-

drive. and venue for at least five World Cup ties. To suit European TV


viewers (that‘s us) these will kick-off WV