BBC nets Euro success as ITV struggles to inject warmth
21 June 2021
It might be the fact that I worked for the BBC for 20 years that impairs my judgement.But it’s clear to anyone who’s experienced both channels first round warm ups at Euro 2020, that ITV need to bring on some subs in the second half.
Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Rio Ferdinand offer a smooth, relaxed and almost – but not quite – quasi-laddy (reinvented for the 2020s) ‘customer experience’ that has so far made mincemeat out of ITV. And it’s not as if the commercial channel lacks class. Mark Pougatch was a BBC stalwart for years, Gary Neville is a country mile ahead of most TV pundits and Roy Keane’s acerbic observations are a welcome insight into the professional game. But why are they all so serious?!
It could be chemistry, it could be humour. However I think the most obvious characteristic that’s missing is performance. It’s not personality or confidence: two factors that can mark down your media outing. The ‘wait until you’re asked’ formality of the ITV panel creates the impression that a year of Zoom calls, where everyone speaks in turn, has somehow been introduced into real life. Even Ian Wright looks neutered.
Clearly, you can’t have a pundit bunfight – a punfight? – where everyone speaks at the same time, but the BBC seem relaxed to let Lineker be the ringmaster while the likes of Micah Richards, Alex Scott and Jermaine Jenus rib each other relentlessly while still offering critical analysis of specific incidents.
Richards, in particular, is a real success story: never a huge England star, he had a good career latterly with Manchester City, but seems to have cornered the market as a ‘cheeky chappy’ with his positive outlook and Jack Grealish deification. (The joke is that the BBC team run a stopwatch when Richards appears on screen to see how long it takes for him to sing the praises of the Aston Villa midfielder. On Friday it was under 2 minutes!)
There’s no such levity over at ITV. It’s as if the Stasi are running the show. Roy Keane – never much of a song and dance man – looks on poker faced as Pougatch implores Gary Neville to pick apart a Slovakian offside incident or Italian free kick. Ashley Cole is almost as boring as snooker player Steve Davies was at his peak Ashley needs to get ‘interesting’ quickly: Davies has, and is now one of the most respected and entertaining performers in the commentary of his sport.
Media is a cruel beast if you underperform. Any lack of projection and believability will be pounced on by the audience as evidence of professional incompetence. At least players have championships, cups and medals to prove they were good at their jobs. Are you as lucky?!