Too Many Prawn Sandwiches

Posted on January 22, 2013

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Sunday nights won’t be the same again. After this season Colin Murray will no longer present Match of the Day 2.

He’s being replaced by Mark Chapman, longtime alumnus of BBC Sport and a brilliant all-rounder.

But I’ll miss Colin. In the 1980s, people like Moira Stuart gave me hope that all sorts of people could get the chance to present TV programmes. Decades later, the appointment of Colin Murray as a radio and then TV presenter gave me similar hope. Here is a man with an accent, occasional opinions and the grammar of a Saturday afternoon in the pub. He sounds like a true fan. With BBC bells on of course.

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I thought the person who hired Colin Murray for MOTD2 showed real foresight. But now it feels like the experiment is over. As you were, everyone.

It’s true that there needs to be a degree of slickness on TV. But football is a different beast, isn’t it? It’s not the news. Sometimes I watch football on TV, across all channels, and it feels so safe, almost corporate – fronted by presenters who look like they would be more at home hosting a conference for actuaries than conveying the passion and drama of the Premier League. I’d like a bit more ‘spur of the moment’ sometimes, and a bit less Stepford. A bit less prawn in my half-time sandwich and a bit more steak and kidney pie.

OK, forget pies, let’s talk ice-cream. In a sea of vanilla, Colin Murray is the cherry flavour. A bit sharp, not to everyone’s taste, but not one that you forget. He’s not yet slipped into his comfy, complacent TV presenting slippers like many others, so he sometimes sits on the edge of his seat – because he’s eager, excited, interested. He’s confident and humble at the same time. He’s a wee bit rough round the edges, the antidote to the slickness of Gary Lineker. The BBC knew all that when they hired him in 2010 to replace Adrian Chiles. So why move him now?

It can’t be about ratings. The appetite for Premier League football is unabated. The papers speculate about the ‘power of the pundits’ on the show – but who knows? It smacks more of a programme, once a hidden pleasure on BBC2, being corporatised with its move to a primetime slot on front-of-house BBC One.

Perhaps because of that, the bosses can’t upset the horses anymore and have an irreverent presenter. Their loss. And mine.

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Posted in: Football