WAlthough much of the past month has been spent falling in love with an England side that represent the best of our modern country, Gary Lineker presented England against Italy with a line straight from the 1950s. “Shouldn’t you be in church?” Lineker asked the audience. You could almost smell the confusion in the salons of the nation, next to a quick check to make sure it’s Sunday when church takes place, right?
“Shouldn’t you be at work?” was, of course, the intro to Des Lynam when England faced Tunisia at lunchtime at the 1998 World Cup. It was that sense of common experience that Lineker was trying to tap into. Yet for all his expertise and personal charm, it was always felt that Lynam’s ghost of eloquence still haunts Gary’s lodge, and this manifested itself on the Great Night of England.
BBC or ITV, ITV or BBC? This is the question you are supposed to deliberate on as you would remove a portrait of the Queen from a college common room. But at the end of the day, the truth is, both channels offer preview and entertainment, and have the ability to make heart-wrenching edits. Just as England found in the decisive shootout, it’s the little details that matter now.
The Beeb had moved his departure forward 10 minutes to give Gary his Des moment and give the national broadcaster an edge in a battle over what was to be the biggest live broadcast in British television history.
ITV didn’t seem particularly bothered. They just stuck Mark Pougatch up front and center at 6:30 p.m. and he scored 1966 in there. “It’s been a long, long time since Bobby Moore and the boys won the World Cup,” said his opener, before dropping a whole new wording for the time elapsed: “Twenty thousand days of evil.”
From there ITV moved on to a nicely edited cut, contrasting with the fact that the World Cup was closer to the sinking of the Titanic than we are now, with Harry and Raheem’s relatively serene stint in this year’s final. . It was a tingle in the back, and had a lot more charm than the BBC’s first effort, a Danish semi-final recap with Raleigh Ritchie’s anthem, Stronger than Ever as the soundtrack.
After dealing with the whole story up front, ITV was free to step into real football, first discussing the latest news from ticketless fans entering the stadium, before Emma Hayes and Gary Neville chewed on them. tactical details of the upcoming match. The Beeb, meanwhile, waded through nostalgia and recaps, save for a fascinating and candid encounter with the great managers who were chewed up by the Impossible Job. From Big Sam – “This country should be ashamed of the way it tries to destroy people” – to Fabio Capello (who hasn’t aged for a decade) and his 66 “white tentacles”, it was two revealing minutes .
In commentary, we had Guy Mowbray and Jermaine Jenas for the BBC and Sam Matterface and Lee Dixon for ITV. Dixon still looks like the old BBC man he is, a little stiff around the collar. But Matterface, who begged viewers to pick ITV midweek, has a populist tone that echoed the times. He met Luke Shaw’s first game with just a shout of his name and ushered in the final overtime with a call to spine and courage. Mowbray observed that Shaw’s strike was the first goal in Euro final history and gave an ironic introduction to the penalty shootout: “It had to come to this, right? And indeed, he did.