For the love of Ada

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 by

I spent most of Good Friday morning sat on a train that firstly didn’t move for ages, and then followed a route seemingly planned by throwing darts at a map of Britain, but it wasn’t so bad, as it meant I got to read most of We Don’t Know What We’re Doing, the quirky, good-humoured and thoughtful book on what it’s like to be a football fan, written by the quirky, good-humoured and thoughtful Adrian Chiles.

Perhaps only Jeff Stelling can rival Chiles as the best football presenter on TV right now. On Match of the Day 2 he brilliantly combines thoughtful and detailed analysis with laugh-out-loud humour. He’s by no means the slickest host (this week he forgot the word “goalkeeper”) but that’s all part of his laconic charm. He can put proper questions to his pundits, forever asking them to explain exactly why players have done such a thing in terms that fans can understand.

Best of all is the regular “2 Good, 2 Bad” section, where Adrian simply narrates a deadpan summary of all the cock-ups and silly moments that have taken place over the weekend – which in other hands might be awful, but thanks to Adrian’s wit is fantastic (“If you’re in the Portsmouth area, have you seen this ball?”).

Such is Adrian’s success on the sofa, it’s not surprising to see other broadcasters sniffing around him, and rumours are rife of a possible move to ITV. This must never happen, because there’s no way Adrian can replicate what he does so brilliantly in an hour late at night than in the five minutes that ITV provide before live games. He works best in the studio, where there’s time to kick back and take a more reflective look, and gently take the piss when the games are rubbish. You wouldn’t be able to do this while presenting Manchester United vs Rosenborg in the Champions League.

It’s not the first time ITV have been looking to brighten up their football coverage -a while back they were hoping to poach Jeff Stelling, but in the end he turned down their overtures. Again, he would have been completely the wrong fit for ITV, given he excels in the Soccer Saturday format where he’s frantically darting around the grounds. The only way he could do that on ITV is if they let him host the General Election (“Declaration at Enfield Southgate, Chris Kamara!” “Unbelievable, Jeff, Portillo’s out!”).

In addition, I don’t know why anyone with any sense would want to work for ITV given it’s seemingly forever looking to replace its existing hosts with someone more exciting. I’m sure Steve Rider and Matt Smith are thrilled by ITV’s support for their work.


Comments are closed.