Home > General, Sport > Okay, I’m non-PC

Okay, I’m non-PC

This will make me unpopular in some quarters, but I don’t care. Yesterday afternoon, I happened to catch the end of Final Score on BBC, where I saw Robbie Fowler make an on-air apology for something he’d said earlier. At the time I had no idea what that was.

Mr Fowler is a recently retired footballer, employed as a football analyst. It seems that in commenting, spontaneously,  on an incident between two players in the Spurs-Chelsea game, he described them as ‘acting like a pair of girls’ in their confrontation. For that, he was made to humble himself by the producer of the live, unscripted show; although he was clearly unhappy about it. By this decision, the story was given legs, and it has run into Sunday. If said producer had restricted himself (or was it herself?) to a quiet word with Robbie after they had gone off air, his allegedly offensive comments would not have been rebroadcast across the nation this morning.

I had a similar experience with BBC, when I said something on air that the man in the production box felt might offend; the presenter was forced to apologise for my remark. If I had been asked to do that myself I would have invited the man in the box to piss up a rope or something similar, but poor old Simon Mayo had no choice, such is the BBC’s fear that any spontaneity falling outside its strict guidelines might offend the public at large.  (He told me after the event that there is actually a form that must be completed when such  an incident takes place.) The same thing happened then as happened to Robbie Fowler this morning. The media picked it up and I was subject to online abuse and threats from the sort of racist moron who seems to have free access to the Daily Mail‘s online edition.

For the record, when I saw Mr Torres drag his fingernails across Mr Vertonghen’s face, my thought at the time that he was acting like a Jessie, and  if I’d been in Robbie’s chair I’d have said just that. I guess this means that football commentators and live match analysts are now forbidden to use the term ‘hand-bags’.

To complete what might seem like a silly Sunday, but is actually pretty serious, I read also this morning that my fellow Motherwell supporter, Tam Cowan, has been suspended from his BBC show over his Daily Record column in which he dared to describe a women’s football international as ‘turgid’ and ‘guff’. Tam is a comic; irony and sarcasm are his stock in trade, and so his language can be florid. The Record made this clear in a PS to his column, in which they posted his personal email at the paper, and asked for complaints  to be directed there. Sure, the editor knew that people might be offended, but he knew also than many more people, including the few who watched that international football match on BBC Alba, in a virtually empty Fir Park, would agree with the basis of the comments that lay under the wisecracks. Tam Cowan has worked for BBC for years, they know what he is and they’ve been happy with the audience figures that his popularity generates. Yet yesterday they dumped on him without a second thought.

The BBC, our national public broadcaster, presents itself a a bastion of free speech. It is nothing of the sort; it has become its enemy, and that needs to change.

Categories: General, Sport
  1. Alison
    September 30, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I too didn’t quite ‘get’ the incident for which he was apologising. I heard it of course, but it seemed a perfectly reasonable thing to say, and to be told to apologise is just beyond ridiculous. At work today I used the phrase ‘handbags at dawn’. No doubt it’s okay for me to say it because I’m female, but maybe I should just throw out a big ol’ sorry just in case. There are certain sections of the population that need to get over themselves and grow a sense of intelligence. And indeed find something to occupy their time.

  2. Fergus
    September 30, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    This is very, very sad. “Acting like a pair of girls,” so what? The girls’ football team “looks like a bunch of blokes.” Again, so what? Are we that sensitive? I don’t think so, we are told that we should be but nobody seems to explain exactly why. I’ve heard girls among girls saying “Hi guys” and boys among boys saying “Hello, ladies,” (films apart).
    PC is nonsense because we, the people, don’t control it or have any say in it at all; somebody else decides, who is this somebody else?
    How can you possibly blame “live” commentators for being “live”? There isn’t a script and hats off to them because it’s extremely difficult to talk when there isn’t anything to say and they manage to do that, sometimes with disastrous results. Comes direct from the soul at the time and, once it’s out, you can’t get it back.
    Had my own “radio show” on a local radio station here in the south of France years back and my only instruction was “there must never, ever be silence.” I was lucky, I could play music and talk when I wanted to, they can’t, they have to speak to fill the blanks.
    Wee nod to Alison: why female? You are a girl, woman or lady as well as being a female. How many men refer to themselves as “male” – At my wedding, the “best male” will be…..Think ont…

    • Alison
      September 30, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      Point taken – good heavens, maybe I’ve been infected with the dreaded PC!

      Shall give myself a stern talking to. I am, I can assure you, above all things a lady!

      Best male – sounds like you’re nominating him for an award. Which you are in a way of course – you are awarding him the pleasure of being your best man.

      • Fergus
        September 30, 2013 at 6:55 pm

        Yes, you’re quite right of course; where are we going here? Cattle shows with medals? May you always remain a lady

  3. September 30, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I have a friend who used to carry a little handbag around with him in L’Escala. He referred to it as his ‘poofter bag’. God knows how many big ol’ sorries he should have offered up for that one!

    I like the idea of that radio show Fergus. Did you ever have a woman phone in late at night and ask you to play ‘Misty’ for her?

    • Fergus
      September 30, 2013 at 7:14 pm

      Unfortunately not, no “Misty” late at night, neither men nor women. 10 to midnight is a difficult slot on the radio especially when it’s phone-in. Had to hold suicidal people on the phone, call emergency services and play something long like “Whipping Post” to keep them online and talking. Radio is very powerful, very useful and very tiring, I loved it. ….

      • September 30, 2013 at 7:30 pm

        You mean you’ve never seen ‘Play Misty for Me’? If not you should rectify at once.

        Late-night suicide radio probably peaked in Scotland late 70s, on Radio Forth with Hazel Fowlie, Ron Beasley and Andy Monaghan. Unfortunately it could be screamingly funny. As witness one of them saying to a young caller, ‘What’s your situation just now?’ To be told, ‘Ah’m in the cupboard under the stairs.’

  4. September 30, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    If the Beeb really is so sensitive about sexism then isn’t it about time it started giving women’s sports equal air time as the men’s. The women’s football, cricket and rugby teams perform every bit as well and on many occasions even better, but women are still second class citizens when to comes to tv sport.

  5. September 30, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Some women’s sports do have equal air time; athletics and Wimbledon come most easily to mind, golf too, considering how few tour events BBC has these days. Sky has cricket sewn up, and does take an interest in the women’s game as long as they’re playing Australia.

    This discussion is about women’s football, which is getting more air time these days, and from that it is very obvious that it is played in small grounds that are largely empty. In other words, if women don’t support it why should it be forced upon either gender?

    If you’re suggesting seriously that women should have 50% of the Match of the Day, the notion might appeal to some PC lunatics in the Beeb, but the viewing figures would put paid to such an adventure in no time at all.

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