producer‘s room. standing with Jim White's mother and father. is Scottish 'I‘elevision‘s head of news. sport and current affairs Scott Ferguson. A Game Of Tim Halves is his baby and as it unfolds during the week. he must be asking the question on everyone's lips why has it not been done before?

Ferguson stresses this show is about laughs. not the minutiae of football history. He is aiming for a wide audience. ‘This is a comedy show. it just so happens it‘s about football.’ he says. ‘If it was a sports programme. people would be wearing Pringle jumpers. It‘s not exclusively for football fans.‘

He appears to be in a buoyant mood. possibly because his team Partick Thistle thrashed Celtic 3-] the night before. making Tommy Burns‘s

‘This is a comedy show, it just so happens it’s about football. If it was a sports programme, people would be wearing Pringle iumpers.’

appearance tonight an act of bravery. This is just three weeks before Celtic face Airdrie in the Scottish Ctip Final at l-lampden and six months after another First Division team. Raith Rovers. snatched the Coca-Cola Ctip from under Celtic‘s nose. It Burns is feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders. he is not showing it. ‘You cannae go iii and see them with a big face on.‘ he says. referring to the post-match meeting with his defeated team the previous night. Little does

he know Celtic are soon to lift their first piece of

silver for six years.

After the studio audience is thoroughly warmed tip by a man in a suit the contestants are seated to great applause. Then the Old Firm jokes begin in earnest. ‘Buuut now. with not a

funny handshake in sight. with not the sound of

a marching band. young. good-looking and with more highlights than .S'misport . . . Jim White.‘ shouts the warm-up man. And we laugh.

The game itself goes surprisingly smoothly. with a joke a minute from Roper and no retakes apart from a 3()-second sequence of the audience clapping enthusiastically. to be inserted at suitable intervals. A string of references to the Orange Lodge and a couple of funny handshakes between White and

Goram keep the chuckles coming. but

the most hilarious moment has to be

SFA secretary Jim Farry and attempt to guess what on earth he is talking about. At half time the teams are watered and made tip. an experience which can never compare with pies and beans. but is guaranteed to put colour in the contestants‘ cheeks. Throughout. Burns looks slightly bemused. only warming up when he is required to sing Always Look On The Bright Side something he does admirably. Afterwards in Scottish Television’s hospitality suite. he laments that the teams were given no clues before filming began. to allow them to counter White‘s prescripted quips more effectively. Series producer Tomlinson remarks that Law and Roper have been attempting to

cheat all week. with Law the more desperate of

the two he is losing.

In the post-match analysis session. the team

captains are best of buddies. ‘The only thing l’m annoyed at is he‘s got a waistline.‘ says Roper pointing to Law.

A Game Ol Two Halves: team captains Denis Law (left) and Tony Roper (right). refereed by Jim White

when the contestants watch a clip of



Reflecting on the show. the actor remarks: ‘Footballers are always perceived to be “sick as a parrot”. “the boys did well". all those cliches. This show doesn‘t make them out to be dimwits.’ Law nods approvineg.

While Law and Roper remain intent on proving there is humour in Scottish football. Burns makes his farewells and heads for the door. At the end of the day. this is only a game. llis troubles are wrapped tip in the real thing. {.1 A Game Of Tim Halves is (m T/Illl‘.8‘(1(1'\'.t‘ at 10.30pm on Scottish Televisionfrom 29 June.

first,“ .... . M « , a

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