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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Listening to Richard Keys and Andy Gray on Talk Sport

I drove down to Oxford this morning. Seeking to luxuriate in Tottenham's progress to the last eight of the Champions League and not wishing to listen to Woman's Hour, I tuned to Talk Sport for the journey.

Richard Keys and Andy Gray, recently let go by Sky Sports in the wake of their unfortunate remarks, are still settling down to their somewhat reduced circumstances on TalkSport's morning shift. They asked their guest Graeme Souness how he had enjoyed being in Barcelona earlier in the week. It was quite poignant. Had they not mis-spoken as they did they would have been inside that particular red rope, not stranded on the other side watching the quality.

On the drive back I listened to Paul Hawksbee and Andy Jacobs doing their afternoon show. All the TalkSport presenters are all essentially doing the same job, chewing over last night's events until every last bit of flavour had been extracted and throwing forward to what might happen tonight. It's a pub conversation carried to insane lengths.

What was interesting is that the TV refugees had hardly anything to say. Their banter was stilted, their laughter mirthless, their lack of originality really quite startling. Once deprived of TV's ace card, which is its sense of a big event, they were exposed as the men with the least interesting opinions in the pub. Hawksbee and Jacobs, by contrast, who are presumably paid a fraction of what the morning guys are paid, had some warmth, some rapport, some willingness to try things.

The contrast made me think of the first series of Alan Partridge on the radio, which I'd been listening to again via the iPlayer. The reason Alan is such a profoundly sad character is that he desperately wants to be on the television and regards everything else as second best. Alan thinks he's just passing through radio on his way to a better world. I wonder what Keys and Gray think.