Category: Latest

British Television & The World Cup, Part One – A Difficult Birth

In eleven days time, the 2014 World Cup Finals begins in Brazil, and the eyes of the world will be watching. An estimated armchair audience of at least a gazillion viewers – or at least that’s how the size of the viewing audience will be spun by those with a vested interest in making sure that advertisers believe that improbably high numbers of people have been watching matches – will tune in, and it’s difficult for those under a pensionable age to remember a time during when this wasn’t the case. However, the Home Nations’ refusal to play in the first three tournaments coupled with the technological constraints of the earlier days of the medium meant that the first four World Cup finals were not shown at all in the United Kingdom. A dispute over payments to amateur players in 1928 – ‘broken time payments,’ by which loss of pay and expenses would be met – for those who played but didn’t make a living from the game – had led to the withdrawal of the home nations, and this meant that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all sat out the first three World Cup tournaments, even though FIFA did attempt to coax the FA, the SFA, the FAW and the IFA back into the fold. It took until 1946 for a little common sense to win through,...

Read More

The 200% World Cup: So What Can England Expect, Then?

Two of England’s World Cup group opponents were in international “action” this weekend. And Mark Murphy was there for 200%. Well, more “there” than BBC Northern Ireland, anyway… Uruguay 1 Northern Ireland 0 I’d all-but-overlooked this potential humdinger. Northern Ireland are on a two-match South American tour. And before Wednesday’s trip to Chile they were in Montevideo to provide cannon fodder for give “English-style” opposition to Uruguay. If such a far-away trip seemed expensively-grandiose for a normally cash-strapped Irish FA, then the BBC weren’t about to make the same mistake. After co-commentator Chris Morgan let slip that it was “one o’clock in the morning here in Belfast” there was none of the “the conditions are really humid here” claptrap that pervades so much studio-based commentary – such pretences usually exposed by an inability to spot offside flags and off-the-ball incidents. But during his commentary Michael McNamee blamed mistakes on (1) it being the wee small hours; (2) there being no researchers about as he & Morgan “are the only ones in the building at this time of night”; and (3) the picture quality being poor, suggesting that “if you are watching this on a hi-definition telly you’ve probably got a better picture than “here in the studio,” which can’t have pleased his employers. Still, here’s to not wasting the licence-fee. For an hour, Uruguay were as poor as the...

Read More