“You could say he looks slightly uncomfortable in the role,” writes the Guardian’s Martin Kellner of former “Match Of The Day” host Des Lynam’s return to the BBC, fronting the quiz show, “Sports Mastermind”, adding, “equally you could say Hitler looked a tad over-excited at the Nuremberg Rally.”
The fact is, Sir Desmond has never appeared as wretched, as thoroughly miserable, as he does on this programme. I do not like to quote myself but I once described John Barnes’ reading of an autocue as similar to a hostage reading a prepared statement on Al Jazeera TV. That was before I had seen Des on SM, taking autocue glaze to a whole new level.
Actually double-glazed might be a better description of Lynam’s eyes when the camera catches him at the start of the programme – and “catch” is a word I use advisedly. People have suggested Des resembles a startled rabbit caught in the headlights but, as I know Screen Break readers expect a higher calibre of clichÃ©, I would liken his expression to that of a teenager in the midst of discovering the joy of his own body being surprised by an inquisitive mother entering his bedroom without knocking.
it seems to me that the fatal lack of hinterland of the SM contestants is matched only by their poor choice in leisure wear. One chap, who seemed in exactly the right demographic to know, was asked which Czech team’s maroon and gold away strip was immortalised in song by Half Man Half Biscuit, and failed miserably to come up with the answer Dukla Prague. You cannot have entertaining discourse with people like that. Des’s desultory conversation, for instance, with the civil servant who answered questions on West Ham since 1945 began, “You’re a keen West Ham fan, I take it?” and failed to progress much from that.
I would not, for one moment, suggest that Des is past it. He is a mere 65 years old, four years younger than David Dimbleby, host of Question Time, and exactly the same age as Ant and Dec. My view is he should have been presenting the Open this weekend. Gary Lineker does a perfectly competent job but joshing with the likes of Nick Faldo and Peter Alliss is what Des was made for. If he is going to mix it with people wearing dodgy casual clothes, let them at least be people we have heard of.
I hate to take Kellner’s word for it, but “Sports Mastermind” sounds like a rough way to spend 30 minutes. On the other hand, it couldn’t possibly be any harder to take than SNY’s “Beer Money”, but if there’s any possibility of somehow pairing Des with Chris Carlin in any capacity —- buddy movie? reality show? —- I’ll make sure there’s room left on my DVR.