Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Hollow Crown

Some people may be worried that Wimbledon is becoming to modern, what with the introduction of the hawk eye, and more recently the high tech roof. After watching it this year I find myself wishing it would catch up with the rest of the world, especially the BBC’s overbearing patriotism and sexist commentary.

Over the years I haven’t been able to watch as much Wimbledon as I would have liked. Living abroad in Germany has made it much more difficult to get into the spirit of it and even to get a chance to watch a match. No one really gets it here. I remember one year begging the owner of a sports cafĂ© to show it on his screen. We were the only ones watching it, and I remember laughing as the German commentators were left speechless yet again as the TV cameras panned onto another celebrity in the crowd.  Silence, that seemed to last an eternity. Oh how I pined for British TV and the BBC commentary.

This year, my wish came true. I was able to watch some of Wimbledon on the BBC. But sometimes you have to be careful of what you wish for.

As I started watching the men’s double match, I was pleased to discover that I had hit upon an “historic” game, where the players were not only wildcards, i.e. not ranked high enough to gain automatic entry, but one of them was a Brit. I must admit, this fact didn’t make me jump for joy as much as the commentators appeared to think it might, though I spent the rest of the match playing guess the Brit, that is how clueless my tennis knowledge had become.  In the post match interview after they had triumphed, the poor Dane who had joined forces with Marray was practically asked to give up his nationality such was the patriotic fervour. However, as we had been repeatedly assured by the commentary, Marray had been “the rock” of the match anyway, so the little trifle of his partner being Danish didn’t matter.  Nielson had obviously just spent most of the match ball-whispering and trying to distract Marray with his high-fives (all of which were, admittedly, annoying). No one mentioned that it was the first time ever that a Dane had won a Wimbledon Championship final.

Next up were the Women’s doubles finals- unfortunately a bit late as the men’s doubles match had gone over five sets. As I sat glued to the TV, excited at the prospect of seeing the Williams sisters win yet another title, the crowd at Wimbledon thinned out to leave embarrassingly few spectators for such an important match. Then came the body blow as we were told that ‘The Hollow Crown: Henry IV” was not being aired on BBC2 because of the tennis. In fact, viewers were kept on the edge of their seats all evening, not because of the Williams sisters dazzling tennis, but because of the constant updates as to the likelihood of the “The Hollow Crown” being aired.

Heads must have rolled before this U turn:

“Just a minute”, said one commentator, “We are just getting an important message through about “The Hollow Crown. It very well might be shown”

Geee, whizzzz, let me know when you’ve made your mind up is all I can say!

By some strange coincidence, John Hurt happened to be in the audience, which prompted the commentator to ask at one stage:

“I bet even John Hurt would have a tricky time deciding whether to watch “The Hollow Crown”, which he just happens to be in, or this match”.

Hmm, maybe he is behind all of this and is just in the audience to remind us of the Hollow bl**dy Crown.

And it didn’t stop there. Later that evening:

“The Women’s Doubles will move over to BBC1 and the Hollow Crown will be shown on BBC2 as scheduled.”

Thank God that’s decided, now we can concentrate on the match and listen to some great tennis commentary from Tracey Austin and Chris Bradnam for the BBC. But while Tracey Austin was doing a good job of sticking to facts and figures, Chris Bradnam appeared to be off on his own mission:

“The William’s sister’s are not smiling, but have their tennis faces on.”. 

Strange, but a comment in this vein is not something that I imagine any commentator saying about a male player.

And then on describing the fact that the sisters had a window of only 41 minutes to win the competition, because play ended at 11pm:

“Well, they cook, so they should know how to use a timer.”

I would have been flabbergasted but I was too busy switching over to BBC1 to see the end of the match.

The Williams sister were triumphant, but only for a millisecond, because the moment they had won the match, the coverage had gone back to the celebration of our ‘Brit’, and his partner Danish whatisname, only to be followed by an excruciating mini film of Andre Agassi wishing our other Brit, (who would rather be known as Scottish) Andy Murray, the best of luck.

I have one suggestion to make to the Lawn Tennis Association. In the name of modernisation scrap the cup and salver, those symbols loaded down with sexual inequality, and award instead a prize worthy of a tennis King or Queen. A Hollow Crown, I am sure John Hurt would oblige.

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