Men of the Match; SUNDAY CHOICE

The Evening Standard (London, England), August 6, 2004 | Go to article overview

Men of the Match; SUNDAY CHOICE


Byline: DANIEL LEE;NIGEL PIZEY;TERRY RAMSEY

Match of the Day at 40 10.15pm, BBC1

ABOUT 30 years ago, when I was a child, I used the spending money I'd saved carefully for weeks to buy my first record. It was an LP (for the CD generation, that's a long player) of top TV theme tunes. It had everything from Thunderbirds to Hawaii Five-O and a bizarre, jazzed-up version of Magic Roundabout. But the one that was my favourite was the tune from Match of the Day.

I soon progressed to buying those compilation records from Woolworth's featuring ropey versions of hits and dubious-looking sleeves bearing semi-naked women, but the MOTD theme tune remained unchanged. And it is still the same today. A fanfare echoing around the minds of all sports and TV fans.

So it is not surprising that a discussion of that enduring tune helps kick off (pun intended) this absorbing show marking 40 years of the much-loved programme and coinciding with the start of the new football season. With a tear in his eye, Gary Lineker says: "It's a tune you associate with football." Jimmy Hill, the first person to bring match analysis to the screen, adds helpfully: "It's just right." The BBC tried to change the music once and viewers rebelled.

It is heart-warming stuff, indeed.

Early on there is a clever compilation of nostalgic film showing children playing football near back-to-back houses with the sounds of commentaries on some of the football greats through the ages - Best, Charlton, Beckham.

As MOTD pioneered TV football, many people were concerned that it would draw fans away from live matches, but the programme started on BBC2 partly because football bosses were convinced the channel would get few viewers.

However, they were wrong, and TV football quickly took off - at its peak, 12 million people watched the show.

MOTD returns to a regular weekend slot for the first time in three years (6pm, BBC1) with highlights of the Community Shield clash between Premiership champions Arsenal and FA Cup winners Manchester United at the Millennium Stadium.

From next week, MOTD will return to Saturdays. A good thing, too. It changed some boys' lives.

Ian Wright, who would not go out until after the programme, reveals: "Most of my inspirational memories come from Match of the Day."

Daniel Lee

Greek Gods and Godesses (8pm, BBC1).

In preparation for the Olympics, this two-parter uses dramatisations to investigate two of the greats of Greek mythology, Jason and Odysseus, and what they say about human relationships - DL

Taking a chance to rebuild Britain

Restoration Final 9pm, BBC2

This is the final of the popular series to find a building most deserving of restoration. Isn't it a shame that we have to pick and choose which bits of our national heritage to save in a game show?

Wouldn't it be nice if the Government allocated enough public money to ensure all these buildings were safe?

In the meantime, Griff Rhys Jones (above) and his team have made this entertaining viewing and they promise to turn tonight's final vote, live from Hampton Court, into a glizty affair. The Archbishop's Palace in Charing, Kent, is one of the eight finalists - DL

Medical team shows spirit

Kingdom Hospital 10. …

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