Gazza stripped

He may appear to be the team clown, but there’s another side to Paul Gascoigne as a new Channel 4 documentary on the Rangers star reveals. Eddie Gibb watches from the touchline.

Underneath the belching, the sobbing and the practical joking not to mention the flashes of inspired brilliance on the football field there’s a sensitive man inside Paul Gascoigne desperately trying to get out. After watching Ken McGill‘s excellent documentary Gazza's Coming Home, it’s hard not to be reminded of the Smokey Robinson classic, ‘Tears of a Clown‘: ‘If there‘s a smile on my face/It’s only there trying to fool the public‘.

From the moment in the l990 World Cup, when Gascoigne wept openly after being shown the yellow card which would have ruled him out of the side had England progressed to the final, the copyright- protected handle ‘Gazza' became a household name like few others. He was, quite simply, the most famous footballer in Britain, and from that moment on his private life became public property. Whenever a camera was pointed in his direction he stuck his tongue out or gumed a goofy gn'n, but he wasn’t always as jolly on the inside.

During one of the in-depth interviews he gave to McGill. Gascoigne said with disarming honesty: ‘I

Paul Gascolgne: footballer’s coming home

don‘t like being on my own because when you‘re on your own you think a lot. and I don’t like to think a lot.‘ It may come as no surprise to hear that the gifted midfielder is no towering intellect. but it‘s an indication ofGascoigne’s inner turmoil. He appears frequently to be in the grip of powerful emotions he can‘t understand, much less control.

(jazza is Coming Home follows Gascoigne fora year. from leaving ltalian side Lazio after a couple of injury-prone seasons. to scoring the hat-trick which

clinched Rangers‘ eighth successive league championship. To cap it all he gets married on screen to long-time girlfriend Sheryl. who has been notable by her absence throughout the year a sign of their rocky relationship.

‘His private life is like a soap opera.‘ acknowledges the director. who has been a friend of Gascoigne‘s since they worked together on a soccer skills programme in I99 I. ‘And the ending was just fairy tale stuff.‘

McGill and the production team previously worked on the documentary. An Impossible Job, which followed former England manager Graham Taylor‘s failed attempt to steer his team to the 1994 World Cup. Although Taylor was portrayed as an almost Shakespearean character wracked by doubt. apparently he doesn‘t regret allowing the cameras access. and was even a guest at McGill‘s wedding.

According to McGill. Paul Gascoigne has not yet seen the documentary about him, but it seems likely that he will find the result more balanced than much of the reporting of his turbulent professional and private life. ‘He feels the portrayal of him has been unfair and he doesn‘t recognise the person he is described as.‘ says McGill.

However there is one subject on which the public image and the private man coincide alcohol. He‘s known for liking a beer, and he does. Gascoigne is perhaps franker than Rangers manager Walter Smith would have cared for when he talks about the central role alcohol plays in the team‘s morale building programme.

But perhaps even more revealing, however, is footage of Gascoigne back on Tyneside on a night out with his Geordie pals. You might imagine the returning hero would be the centre of attention. but not a bit of it. Gazm sits at the table, pint in hand, helpless with laughter as his mates tell the jokes. As he says: ‘1 might have scored two goals for Rangers but theyjust want to talk about Newcastle.‘ Gazza's home.

Culling [Sr/ye: (Jazzu Is Coming Home is rm Mm: 7 ()(‘I (I! 9pm rm Channel 4.


Labourof love

The Government is down to a majority of one and is trailing hopelessly in the polls. The Home Secretary, meanwhile, is sitting in a particularly unsafe Tory marginal and worrying about his future. It is time, he decides, for a crisis of conscience so he can detect over to the winning side in time for the next election.

We are, of course, dealing here - as everyone involved in crossing the Floor insists with butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth expressions - with an entirely fictional situation. find events taking place in this

Crossing the Floor: the Blairite iieil Pearson


Prime Minister is a grey,

on a diet of peas.

same as yours.’

political satire by Drop the Dead Donkey writer Cuy Jenkin bear no relation whatsoever to anything that might be going on in Westminster.

It is therefore purely chance that in this biting follow-up to last year’s A Very Dpen Prison about a politically embarrassing jail break, the leader of the Labour party is a smart-suited, ever-smiling, devout Christian with a platitude for every occasion and the

uncharismatic figure who subsists

Tom Wilkinson returns to the role of the opportunistic Home Secretary lianratty, while Dead Donkey regular tieil Pearson plays the oily leader of New Labour who lures him to cross the floor of the House with the promise: ‘You needn’t worry about our policies - they are exactly the

The scheduling of Crossing the

Floor the night after Tony Blair’s keynote address at the labour conference has already got to the party’s PB machine but Pearson remains unconcerned by the fuss. ‘We wouldn’t have achieved anything it we failed to get up somebody’s nose,’ he says. ‘I’m a member of the Labour party. I support its aims and I want to see it return to office at the next election - but I’m sure it’s robust enough to withstand a little gentle buffeting from members of Equity.’

As Guy Jenkin wrny observes: ‘Labour party supporters have been asking me if I’m worried about the effect this might have on potential Labour voters. But I’ve been writing about the Conservative party now for seventeen years and l’ve had precious little effect so far on their support.’ (Sue Creenway)

Crossing the Floor is on Sat 5 (lot on 8802.

82The List 4-I7 Oct I996