Footballers’ Wives

Tuesday, January 29, 2002 by

That history can be rewritten is hardly news. After all, both recent Bloody Sunday dramatisations positively revelled in their obviously liberal agit-prop agendas. Hollywood also revels in rewriting history, whether it be America winning the war (any war) single-handedly or whole swathes of actuality being conveniently ignored. That much is to be expected; personally the atonal whining of objectors annoys me almost as much as the filmmakers and producers. Where I do draw the line is when television critics rewrite truth and attempt to justify a show by picking up the “it’s-so-bad-it’s-good” baton. For that there can be no excuse at all. Ever.

Hence my ire at that most execrable of shows, Footballers’ Wives. Make no mistake; this is drama of the most mind numbingly banal and depressing variety. It’s “Striker” from The Sun writ large and writ badly. When I propounded during my review of Dream Team that football dramas tended to plumb unfathomable depths of pishness, I had no idea that the Marianas Trench of the genre was but a month or so away. This is not even a case of “it’s so bad it’s car crash good”. As TV critics seeks to portray the show favourably in the language of the theatre of the absurd, allow me to be blunt and crouch my terms in the guttural Glaswegian that courses through my veins; this is pure shite by the way.

There is no element of the show beyond criticism. The plots are a pastiche of every teenage girls masturbatory fantasies, the acting is so wooden that one could be forgiven for believing that a Forestry Commission commercial was on screen (Gary Lucy, the former Hollyoaks hunk is crushingly bad), the direction and editing are stultifyingly plodding and so on ad infinitum. Is there no beginning to the good points you may well ask?

Nope. There is no beginning. Imagine the writers of Bad Girls having their brains whipped to mush and then being mated with 14 year old schoolboys with a mega jazz mag fixation and the resultant mutant creature being left in a state of perpetual arrested development – see that, that’s the scriptwriters that is. That’s as good as it gets in terms of praise. Anyone involved in this show should be soundly thrashed to within an inch of his or her worthless existence. Then thrashed again. And again.

However, if I were to hitch my wagon to one particular element of the programme that truly is the worst, then it’d have to be the acting. It’s not so much acting as a collective freeform pishfest wrapped around a series of clichés and quotes rejected from Viz. “Depressed about your tits going on fire, luv? Get yourself some Prozac” – a more than adequate summation of the major storyline thus far. Tragically, where there is scope for improvement (i.e. everywhere) the writers have completely bottled it. The club captain is an avowed xenophobe and is keen on vituperatively spewing forth the word wop. A nice touch, and a more realistic one, would be if he were to use the equally retro “coon” or “nigger” for his coloured team-mates. Ah well, xenophobia is one thing but racism is quite another. Still, the man has the emotional range of an amoeba (and a quadriplegic one at that) so perhaps genuine acting is beyond him. At least he is not alone in a lack of thespian talent. The entire cast are bonded together by unabashed averageness.

Footballers’ Wives has the look of an ageing professional with one eye on where the next bottle of Smirnoff Blue Label is coming from. It has all the élan of a Coventry City chocolate brown away kit and all the believability of a Jesus Gil 5 Year Plan. This is, as I said, easily the worst programme to appear on television in the last decade or so. That can mean only one thing; it is going to be commissioned again beyond a shadow of a doubt.


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