Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Who Ate All the Pies? Not This Lot of England Oldies Our 'Arry Whips Them into Shape

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Who Ate All the Pies? Not This Lot of England Oldies Our 'Arry Whips Them into Shape

Article excerpt

Byline: Alastair McKay The Viewer

Harry's Heroes: The Full English ITV, 9pm ONE of the most common cliches of football commentary is the one about scripts. When something extraordinary happens in a game, the commentator will say: "You couldn't write this script", when the opposite is true. The extraordinary twist of fortune is precisely the sort of thing writers make up: the last-minute goal, the injury-time equaliser, the unjust dismissal from the field of play all of them are surprising but not unimaginable.

In Harry's Heroes, a group of former England players are being coached by Harry Redknapp. 'Arry, whose name has a silent H, is considered by some to be the best manager England never had. But he won the consolation prize: being crowned King of the Jungle in last year's I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. This twist of fate is precisely the sort of thing you could dream up if you were trying to illustrate the democratic instincts that pertain at the shallow end of celebrity culture.

There is quite a bit of scripting at work here. 'Arry's role is less central than you might think, possibly because he presents his wife's passport at the airport and so misses the plane to Spain, where some of the players are being put through their paces at a fitness camp on the Costa del Sol.

Happily, assistant manager John Barnes is on hand to supervise the players as they order drinks. "Gin and tonic disguised as water," says one. "Malibu and Coke disguised as Coke," says another. "A tonic water, but not slimline," raps Barnes.

The script these former legends are being squeezed into is the one about fat, middle-aged men being coaxed back into shape for another crack at the title. The equation is something like Rocky x The Full Monty = Celebrity Fat Club. It's not as easy as it sounds.

"The lure of the sausage and egg McMuffin or two," says Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier, almost writing the opening line of a Lionel Bart musical about footballers from the golden age of jumpers for goalposts and McDonald's for breakfast. …

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