Television and sport is the ultimate marriage of convenience. The two circled each other warily for a while – sport anxious the sofa-bound might spurn the live product, TV reluctant in a limited-channel world to hand over too much screen time to flannelled fools and muddied oafs.
But they got together, and stayed together, for the sake of the money, and now you cannot imagine one without the other. They are indivisible, like an old couple sitting in a teashop finishing each other's sentences, and there is little doubt which is the dominant partner. You have only to think of the recent sports stars who have left their muddy fields to don sequins, grab partners and tango their way across the stage in ultimate Saturday-night television style, to see how far the two have come on their journey together.
In Sit Down and Cheer Martin Kelner traces the development of this relationship from its humble origins in the 1960 Olympics, by way of the first-ever Match of the Day in 1964, through to the financial impact of Sky, right up to the high-tech gadgetry of our present-day viewing. Insightful and very funny, this is an entertaining exploration of two major national pastimes and not to be missed.
About the Author
Martin Kelner has written a weekly column about sport on TV for the last 12 years, most recently the popular Screen Break spot for the Guardian. He lives in Wakefield.