Harry Redknapp’s Sandbanks Summer: Richard The Third TV
I had, ahem, pre-judgements about a programme in which Redknapp welcomes “celebrity friends” ex-footballer Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock and light entertainer Joe Pasquale, “to his house in the luxury south coast town,” Sandbanks, the “small Dorset peninsula known for its high property prices.” Yet, I had minor hopes, too. Redknapp is not the worst professional cockney in that unfeasibly booming industry. Pasquale is a genuinely entertaining light entertainer. And Ruddock…er…no. As Pasquale noted: “you’ve got your name all over the side of your car, you spanner.”
Around the ad-breaks, Joanna Lumley’s voice said that “ITV travel documentaries are sponsored by Great Rail Journeys,” (because ITV categorise this as a “documentary”??). The few watchable such “documentaries” involve comedians (whereas Redknapp is a joke). Billy Connolly’s 94 world tours. John Bishop’s marvellous ‘Tour of Ireland.’ Frankie Boyle’s rude, laugh-out-loud ‘Tour of Scotland,’ currently on BBC2. ‘Sandbanks Summer’ is on television…where all similarities end.
“I’ve become a professional waver” Redknapp begins, misreading the script straightaway. We can’t see how/if are waving back, bar one whose puzzled expression says “who IS that waver?” He calls Sandbanks “the home to millionaires, movers-and-shakers…and me, Harry Redknapp,” as the theme tune winds down ‘hilariously,’ like he was only living there because the housing developers had to include social housing in their plans.
“Pull your pants up, this ain’t Sarfend, you know!” he shouts, as ‘Razor’ gets in the sea. ‘Cos they’re lovable cockneys who could only afford holidays on the Costa del Westcliff as kids. The following black-and-white picture of the child Redknapp in shorts on a bike and his voiceover “I was born 72 years ago in London’s old East End,” bludgeons home that point, before he part-attributes his journey “from Stepney Green to this little bit of paradise on the gorgeous Dorset coast,” to “luck.”
The “luck” is illustrated by a picture of Portsmouth’s 2008 FA Cup winners on an open-top bus. Pompey fans who felt the consequences of the financial recklessness which helped fund that possibly used a different word ending in “-ck.” But Redknapp’s, ahem, wheeler-dealing on the fringes of football’s transfer market, were somehow missed off his list. This ain’t Panorama, you know!
The show is packed with this “rags-to-riches” twaddle, plus tourist board-esque spiels Redknapp was possibly contractually obliged to parrot: “A mile long, Sandbanks is one of the world’s most exclusive stretches of coastline,” he monotones. “Property costs more than in Man’attan and a row of just firteen hahses is worth ninety million quid. With the UK’s best weather and a beautiful blue-flag beach, it’s the jewel of the suvvern riviera. You can’t get a better escape from the hustle and bustle.”
Here, any real documentary would ask: “Redknapp began playing as the maximum wage was being abolished. He never played for England and had a mixed managerial career. So, how did he afford such luxury?” But here, Redknapp insists it’s time to “invite friends, family…and,” being a man of the people, “you lot” to “enjoy my Sandbanks Summer.”
Redknapp invites Ruddock and Pasquale to view a £5m beachside property. “Razor’s thinking of getting a place on Sandbanks,” Harry suggests. “Niiiice,” Ruddock intones, as if pleasantly surprised that he can afford it. He can’t, of course. But we don’t ‘discover’ that until 90 seconds more PR-preposterousness from the estate agent. But this isn’t just blatant puffery for Sandbanks. It is blatant puffery for Corfe Castle.
“One of Dorset’s firteen castles…built by William the Conqueror,” Harry says, like a Russian “tourist” admiring Salisbury Cathedral’s famous 123-metre spire. On the way, Pasquale reveals that “this is where the Romans first landed.” ‘Arry asks “where did they come from, Italy?” And there endeth that lesson. At the castle, Ruddock gets the giggles: “There was a real man called Richard the Third! Thought it was just rhyming slang,” he chortles, hopefully in mock-ignorance for the cameras. Please?
They then try some mediaeval games. The archery supervisor is improbably more cockney than they are. And during their sword-fighting, Redknapp pokes Pasquale in the crotch, because of course he does. At this point, the ITV ad-break provides merciful relief.
After the break, “me and Sandra,” his wife of 51 years (we are told 51 times) visit the Bournemouth Air Show, to which Harry has never been before (HIS “Sandbanks Summer”?). Cue more PR-puffery. But here, potential insight threatens. “Harry’s very appreciative of the things I do and if he wasn’t, I wouldn’t do them,” Sandra insists, suggesting she’s the senior partner. But she immediately adds: “Well…maybe I would,” thus dissolving matters into yet more for-the-camera schmaltz. Perhaps the most disheartening disappointment of a show packed with them.
Redknapp is flown over Sandbanks by trained-pilot Pasquale. “They’re like those things you shoot out of the elastic, you know?” he asks when the plane appears. No. We don’t. “Oh no, Joe” he monotones when “told” Joe is the pilot, part of a ‘comedy’ nervous-flyer routine, which would only work if he’d bussed it to Portsmouth and Spurs European away games. This bit is redeemed, though. You know what’s coming when Redknapp asks aerobatic display pilot Richard Goodwin to “do a special surprise for Sandra.” But the heart-shape Goodwin vapour-trails in the sky IS touching.
There are five more episodes…somehow. And though I’ve sounded snobbish throughout this review, “Sandbanks Summer” was shit. Indeed, this episode ended with Redknapp clearing dogshit from his garden, a clunking but accurate visual metaphor.
Episode number two might not be a number two. The third might not be a huge England’s late 15th-century king. But episode one was 22 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. And while I don’t get the good minutes back either, nothing can offset my regret at using those 22 minutes like… that.