Time To Put Co-Commentators Out To Pasture


Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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18 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    Surely you mean that ITV were not able to send a replacement out at the Lastminute.com.

  2. Chris says:

    Surely you mean that ITV were not able to send a replacement out at the Lastminute.com.

  3. elliott says:

    I don’t think co-commentating is always bad – like a dialogue in a play, sometimes dual and different perspectives can be insightful. What I can’t stand is co-authors for sports writing: what great essay or work of literature has more than one author credit?

  4. Gary says:

    As somebody who has both done commentary and summarising in the past, albeit briefly for radio, it’s not the easiest of tasks, especially when faced with a dull game, but equally if the summariser has done their research, it’s not hard either, which is why I occasionally get hacked off with co-commentators.

    They do serve a useful purpose for the commentator, expanding on points that the commentator may not have been able to make because the action’s been relentless, picking up on something that may have been overlooked, giving the main commentator a breather to look at their notes, etc etc.

    But a good TV co-commentator should also be able to realise that the majority of viewers have seen what they’ve seen and sometimes silence is an appropriate response.

    I thought Tyldsley’s solo commentary in 2010 was excellent and I’d be happy for more games like that. However, I also think that when you’ve got a co-commentator with plenty of insight to offer, they really add to the game.

    I may be about to undermine my argument here, but for all his language-mangling David Pleat usually would offer something interesting and there are others who help rather than hinder. But the bad ones often outweigh the good.

    I personally think all new co-commentators should be forced to listen to cricket coverage for several months as an example of how to get the best out of ex-pros. And then given Phil Vickery’s rugby commentary as the ultimate example of how not to do it.

  5. BTFM says:

    Have we ever got to the bottom of why it is that radio commentary requires a second “lead” commentator?

  6. Darren Stephens says:

    You’ve forgotten the tendency of the co-comm, like David Pleat, to be unable to pronounce the name of any player with what sounds like a foreign name. I think it might actually be part of the contract terms for them to mangle names in a ” comedic” manner for the viewing dozens

    Actually, last week, I spent a couple of lovely evenings listening to Bob Fischer on the radio with the march in mute. Worked a treat for me

  7. Mr. Morden says:

    TwoHundredPercent : “We no longer shout, “WE KNOW!” at the television screen – we merely shout “SHUT UP!” instead.

    Or, alternativley, we “SHUT THEM UP !” by hitting the mute on the remote. Works everytime :o).

    I can still ‘see’ what goes on and do not need to be reminded by someone who has long since past his best before date.

  8. Frank Heaven says:

    There is a role for the co-commentator, it’s just all the ones on UK television are dreadful.

    I’m looking for analysis of the tactics, what formations teams are playing, who’s dropped deeper, who’s making runs off camera the viewer isn’t seeing.

    I get the feeling foreign pundits provide that, but it’s unheard of in this country. I can’t help feeling it’s part of British football’s anti-intellectual culture, where success is achieved by teams being ‘up for it’ rather than out-thinking opponents tactically.

  9. Adrian Brown says:

    It’s that awful thing ‘banter’ that really gets me. It’s so prevelant too – Five Live being one of the worst culprits. ‘Chappers’ and ‘Tuffers’ and all that cosy, banal chumminess.
    Why does everything have to be ‘funny’ these days? Mike Ingham is the only voice of sanity.

  10. Jam says:

    While I agree with your general sentiment, oddly enough Mark Lawrenson is the one co-commentator I actually like. His dry, disinterested and cynical manner is a much needed contrast to the often hype-fuelled sycophancy of the main commentator. His one-liners are genuinely funny on occasion too.

    You do seem to have taken his Twitter gibe a bit personally.

    Also, if you’re going to criticise the quality of someone’s work, it’s best not to do so with a typo in the title.

  11. John Rogers says:

    I largely agree with the thoughts above. I thought Clive’s commentary in the 2010 World Cup flying solo was vastly better than his usual efforts. However, some of that may be because neither England, nor Cristiano Ronaldo were playing.

    I think it very much depends who the co-commentator is as to whether or not they add to the experience or not. More often than not they don’t, but I do like Graham Taylor and Dave Woods on Channel 5. Indeed, Taylor on 5 Live is very insightful as well.

    Of those currently doing the rounds as they do every tournament, I think Mick McCarthy is the best of a pretty bad bunch. Mark Bright has managed to make himself even more insufferable than even Mark Lawrenson – quite an achievement. Thank the lord though that the Welsh FA saw fit to save us from the hell that Chris Coleman would have subjected us to.

  12. Ian says:

    Jam; “Also, if you’re going to criticise the quality of someone’s work, it’s best not to do so with a typo in the title.”

    Heh, I was *that* angry… Actually, I’m reasonably sanguine about it, since I don’t think that this sort of article makes any difference to the policy of the broadcasters.

    BTFM: I have no idea – I assume it may be something to do with the fact that radio commentators have to go full pelt and need a break. This is a deeply flawed explanation, though, I have to say. Worth pointing out that in the early days of television commentary two commentators were used for live TV matches, especially on ITV. Indeed, looking at the time-line, it’s not inconceivable that the co-commentator evolved from this arrangement.

    Agreed, by the way, on Graham Taylor, who is one of the few people anywhere near the summit of English football that talks a great deal of common sense.

    (Those of you that follow us on Twitter will also be aware that I flagged up how impressed I was with Danny Mills’ appearance on BBC Breakfast the other day, as well)

  13. JG says:

    I think there’s an inherent problem with TV commentary, in that it’s still done in the style of radio commentary. “Cole to Welbeck, Welbeck to Rooney, Rooney shoots and puts it over the bar!”, we know this. We’re watching it.

    “I’m looking for analysis of the tactics, what formations teams are playing, who’s dropped deeper, who’s making runs off camera the viewer isn’t seeing.”

    I agree with this wholeheartedly. This should be how commentary is done. We don’t need to be told that we’ve just seen a good shot, because we’ve seen it ourselves, we need analysis that we may not have picked up on.

  14. Mike Bayly says:

    Danny Mills, like Graeme Le Saux, was a rare breed of footballer; one one read broadsheet papers but was also able to dish out a good kicking.

    We need more of their ilk, if only to save us from the dull monosyllabic hell of post match interviews.

  15. Jonty says:

    Enjoyed reading that. Sometimes though I like the banter between ex pro and commentator. Depends who it is . Robbie Savage excels at the partnership. His commentary on the New Zealand v Italy game in the last world cup was riveting, as he got genuinely excited as a fan of football while offering insights into Ryan Nelson’s ‘dodgy bum injuries.’

    While I’m not a fan of talk talk I find Ray Parlour and Sam Mattaface on the station a very good combination, both generous with each and also correct each other.

    Alan Green is better with another commentator, because otherwise the entire commentary would just be one huge 90 minute about a dive or a bad ref decision. The solution with Green perhaps is to pension him off though.

    I noticed on BBC HD sport coverage of Euro 2012 the other night that the commentary was very low…barely audible…it was quite refreshing. Perhaps a better solution is no commentary at all?

  16. Jonty says:

    *Talksport ( I am actually a fan of the band Talk Talk)

  17. Sando says:

    Personally, I’d prefer to have the option of switching the commentary off and just being able to hear the crowd. Can’t bear Tyldesley, and his co-conspirator Townsend also gets on my nerves because he doesn’t seem to know when to shut up. The BBC should give the licence fee payers a couple of pennies back too, by breaking up the ‘old boys club’. Hansen is just lazy, and Shearer can barely construct a coherent sentence. I’m not even going to mention Lawrenson!!

  1. June 26, 2012

    […] The co-commentator’s role in the broadcast of a match is debatable at best, actually detrimental at worst. So let’s just cut the fat. // 200% […]

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