Friday, 3 July 2015

Wimbledon 2day

I wrote about Wimbledon last year. In fact most of what I have been watching recently has felt a bit Groundhog Day - Episodes, Child Genius, W1A... They've already been covered by this blog. Nothing more to add.

Anyway, in last year's blog post I complained about the inanity of John Inverdale's highlights programme Today At Wimbledon. But now it has been replaced (nothing to do with me, I hasten to add) and I have seen Wimbledon 2day, I retract my criticism wholeheartedly. Because I hadn't seen nothing yet, it turns out.

Clare Balding is always bright and enthusiastic and keen to sound the expert, even if she does tend to shove her hands in people's faces. But she has been placed in an oversized Pimms tent covered with fake grass from a market stall and given a malfunctioning iPad that constantly distracts her with tweets. And she has been surrounded by a Top Gear meets Antiques Roadshow style audience on their feet. An audience who contribute NOTHING other than a bland, nervous "I am on camera, don't sneeze, it's hot, don't faint" smile and the odd stagestruck murmur of agreement. There are still the former player commentators (McEnroe, Navratilova, Bartoli, Henman etc) invited in for a chat, but even they seem diminished by this dumbing down and the distracting people in the background. The spotlight is no longer shining upon them as it would have done in a purpose built TV studio. And they have to sit clutching giant microphones. They are also being asked ridiculous questions about jokes and beards.

What there isn't a whole lot of is tennis, unless a British player happens to have won a match that day. Instead there is YouTube footage of toddlers having a meltdown by their paddling pool while being forced to wield a racquet in their back garden to fend off flying objects. I am not making this up. Now, Wimbledon has always made children play tennis in our back garden, and this is to be heartily encouraged, but we don't need to upload a video of it on to the Internet. Our kids might not be as cute as we think, for one thing.

Like many people, an evening highlights programme is the only tennis I get to see during Wimbledon. I may not be in an office all day, but I have my daughter with me all afternoon. (Last year her three hours of pre-school were in the afternoon so that gave me a bit of tennis time. Now they are in the morning.) As the weather is lovely (it's SUMMER, people  - stop moaning about the heatwave), I am not going to sit indoors and even begin to attempt to persuade her to watch a match on Centre Court. So I don't care what people are tweeting about the day to Clare Balding (especially if they aren't tennis experts). Lucky them, they've seen it already. Now it's my turn. Show me what I've missed. That's all I want.

The whole style of the programme just feels so wrong, so misjudged. Wimbledon is meant to be slightly stuffy, I think. Stuffiness is at the soul of the All England Club, like the be-blazered stewards and the strawberries and cream. There shouldn't be high fives or bad spelling. I don't care if the 2 is for BBC2, it doesn't belong in the word TODAY. Next they'll be shoving Sue Barker in a gin joint and changing the theme tune to a Kayne West** rap.

(** I only know who Kayne West is thanks to the subtitlers currently going viral for attempting to cover his Glastonbury set for a hard-of-hearing audience not allowed to see bad words. Please always feel free to tweet good things about subtitlers! But not inane nonsense about a tennis player's beard.)

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