Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Germany 3 Turkey 2 BBC 0

Tonight was not one of the BBC's more distinguished nights.

It was passing strange even before the signal was lost. 5Live's desperate need to pass on information as soon as they have it was manifest in the first half when John Murray interrupted his commentary to tell us the verdict in a deeply sad murder case; a second later he had to change gear from sober news reader to rattle-twirling Turk-for-a-day as the unfancied side went into the lead. The effect was distasteful.

The intermittent loss of signal underlined once more the great truth of TV sportscasting. This is that the person not there knows more than the person who is there. You would have thought that the BBC would have left one person at home in front of their TV whose job it was to tell them when they were broadcasting, with what signals and to whom. It was evident throughout the evening that they didn't know.

Finally there wasn't a voice anywhere on the network prepared to concede that the reason Germany had won was because they had scored three perfectly legitimate goals to the Turks' two and that while their performance was far from distinguished it was not dreadful. Had a British side gone through under the same circs they would have regarded it as a hard-earned victory.

Asked beforehand if he thought the Germans would be complacent, Hansen said "The Germans do arrogance but they don't do complacency." He presumably forgot to add that they don't like it up 'em.


  1. Anonymous7:10 am

    I also have to wonder if anyone at the BBC is watching what actually reaches our sets. On BBC World, the cable channel for expats and anglophiles outside the UK, we are often treated to poor continuity: at the end of a break we'll see the newscaster for 1 sec before whizzing off to another trailer or the logo. We'll also see a trailer for the programme we're currently watching, in the middle of it and finally we'll see a news story from the main news repeated in the local news section that comes next. The main news has already been flavoured for our region. Despite all that it's still better than the alternatives (only to be watched when the BBC is reporting on events within the BBC).

  2. Anonymous8:40 am

    As an Englishman living in Germany, I have to tell you that I often experience these kind of comments and attitudes. You get used to it.

    I was particularly saddened this morning however by the reports of both the Guardian and the BBC which followed the same tired line you describe - Lucky Germany. I'm sure we all have enough additional adjectives we could throw in; arrogant, cold, ruthless, efficient, you know the ones.

    It doesn't necessarily need the added focus of a football tournament to bring the old prejudice to the surface either. When I told my friends that I was leaving the UK for Germany 5 years ago, most of them just made a face combining distaste with amusement and asked "Germany? Why?" One of them even jokingly suggested that I should buy some jackboots. Really. Strangely, we don't keep in touch...

    Since then, every trip home has brought the same questions, usually followed by "Oh, you're in the forces, then..." assuming that this would be the only reason anyone would go to Germany. I'm not in the forces. I got so tired of this that on our last UK holiday, we just told people we were from somewhere in the UK - it was easier.

  3. Anonymous9:43 am

    When the pictures went, and we had to rely only on the commentary to follow the match, and they put up a caption saying "There is a fault. We're doing our best to fix things", do we really then need the continuity announcer turning off the ocmmentary so he can tell us "We're having some problems here, but we're doing our best to fix things, and as soon as we can, we'll go back to the game."

    Yes, I can see that. Shut up.

  4. A brilliant analysis, David. My partner, who is originally from Germany, had to turn it off in disgust. When are we going to get past this in Britain? Xenophobia and crude stereotypes should be of the past. And the excuse that the perpetrators of this nonsense are just 'having a laugh' is also unacceptable.

  5. Anonymous10:31 am

    I managed to compound the signal problems by watching it on Sky + later in the evening and fast forwarding through bits as bedtime was looming. When the Turks scored their second goal I went through the roof and it took a few minutes to realise it was an equaliser and not the bloody winner.

  6. Anonymous10:54 am

    Just as the German psyche still has strong feelings about their history, so too do the British - that said the issue of 'Us vs Them' has certainly come forwards in leaps and bounds, even since the late 80s. No-one seems to have touched on the fact that British people have perennially rooted for the under-dogs when a choice of nations doesn't include themselves and in this case there is no doubting that the odds were stacked against the Turks. It's also worth noting that the BBC is by it's very nature a British company. While shows like the World Service will always claim to be un-biased, as with any show which has it's roots in nationhood this will likely prove mighty difficult to achieve.
    As for technical difficulties, these things happen - it's a high-pressured job where giving chances to new directors, producers, VT operators can be a risky business. You can bet your bottom dollar that they're trying!

  7. I preferred it when the Five Live commentary came on with the pictures, despite it being slightly out of sync.

  8. Anonymous4:28 pm

    Slightly out of sync to the extent that the mystery was taken out of Turkey's second goal as the fact that it hadgone/was going in was given away by the hysterical commentary....

  9. Anonymous9:31 am

    I find Lineker´s smirking anti-german comments particularly distasteful (although he needs only to appear on screen for my blood pressure to rise). Someone really to have a word about his witless remarks.

  10. I think the BBC's smugness over having a free run at the final is misplaced. This is almost entirely due to the lack of adverts rather than the quality of coverage. I think ITV have actually been better during this tournament- I guess the ad-enforced brevity discourages the kind of up-itself wink wink kind of stuff that Lineker et al come out with.

  11. Patrick Barclay recently put forward a pretty good case for why all right-thinking football followers should like Germany. In a nutshell:
    The Bundesliga is pretty fan-friendly with much lower prices than our Premier league and so the attendances are the highest in Europe (they even have certified standing areas for traditionalists). The rules on club financing don’t allow the sort of nonsense prevalent in England Spain and Italy whereby the big clubs rack up enormous debts to buy, on the never never, all the best players. It hampers German clubs in European club competitions but makes the league more competitive and the clubs profitable.
    Although relatively few German players have played in England the ones who have have been on the whole well-liked. Bert Trautmun, the former POW who played in goal for Man City was one of the best-loved players of the immediate post-war era. Jurgen Klinsmann earned a reputation as a diver but neutralised it with his daft headlong dive goal celebration (that also suggested that Germans do actually have a sense of humour) and won the Footballer of the Year award. Didi Hamman was well-liked at Newcastle, Liverpool and Man City and has become a sort of token stereotypical “Northern man” with his fags, pints of bitter and unfortunate nose often to be found buried in the Racing Post (for whom he also writes a column). He was also of course the absolute model professional, raved about by Steven Gerrard in his autobiography both as a player, a mentor and a friend.
    Thomas Hitzlsperger enjoyed a mutually beneficial five year spell at Villa and is still in touch with supporters via the fan website. While at Villa he would engage in highbrow discussions of economics with governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King, a Villa supporter.
    While England’s first-choice centre backs John Terry and Rio Ferdinand between them have a charge sheet as long as your arm for drunk driving, urinating on the floor in nightclubs, missing drugs test, brawls in airport lounges etc. (none of which has stopped them being the main rivals for England captaincy) the German pair are a different kettle of fish. Mertesacker is a devout Lutheran who organises youth festivals; Metzelder helps finance and run a foundation to enable young Turkish immigrants settles into German society.
    One of the most likeable, level-headed and intelligent England players is Owen Hargreaves, probably because he had his footballing education at Bayern Munich (he went there from his native Canada when he was 15) rather than in the English premier league which, as we know, is a cross between a kindergarten and a lunatic asylum.
    I’ll be neutral on Sunday, but certainly won’t pay any attention to the babyish, gormless BBC “kraut-bashing”.