Faldo-gate and the BBC

Invigorated by the hysteria of firstly Russ & Woss-gate and then the last dances of John Sergeant, I looked forward to Monday’s episode of Inside Sport on BBC1 with relish. An exclusive interview with Nick Faldo had been heavily trailed, not least with several references to her trip to Brazil by Gabby Logan on her 5 Live Sunday morning show. Finally, I thought, this will be something that is actually worth complaining about.

The reaction to Europe’s loss in the Ryder Cup in September was extremely odd. It was another fantastic contest, in which our twelve players – ten of whom qualified by right – narrowly came out second best over five invigorating rounds of golf. The US team was inspired. Names unfamiliar to the average British sport fan – Boo Weekley, Anthony Kim, JB Holmes, Hunter Mahan, Kenny Perry – had the weekend of their life. At the same time, some of Europe’s habitual stars had a shocker, with Harrington, Garcia and Westwood unable to record a win between them. As a result, in an event in which the captain does not hit a single ball, elements of the media took the opportunity to vent forth the views that they had been waiting for years to express.

Faldo’s relationship with the press was famously strained even before his comment thanking them from the ‘heart of his bottom’ after winning the 1992 Open. (Not a bad line in truth). So a show about Faldo on BBC-lite was sure to stir up another load of trivial nonsense. I searched the BBC website for the complaint form before settling down to watch Gabby do her worst.

The programme was extremely disappointing. There were few gimmicks, a lack of inanity, no obsession with clever camera work, and not an irrelevant talking head in site. Indeed there were no frills. It was a full thirty minutes on one subject, with plenty of conversation, some brief opinion from Logan and sensible questioning; it was intelligent, interesting and extremely engaging. I was in shock.

Faldo himself was charming, funny, generous, and honest, and it was hardly surprising that he was at his most natural when chatting on the golf course. Listening to him describe some of Seve’s bunker shots during a coaching session with a group of attentive young players, it was easy to understand why he is held in such admiration and awe.

Logan asked him whether he was bothered about the press reaction to the Ryder Cup. “Well I sensed on the Sunday night where it was going,” he replied, before making clear that he hasn’t read the press for years. Good for him.

It was a fantastic thirty minutes of television. In getting the best out of Faldo, Logan achieved something that few broadcasters have managed. I felt cheated, but decided that I would follow the example of the 42,851 people who complained to the Beeb on behalf of the poor much maligned member of the Satanic Sluts – or her grandfather – and complain anyhow. The programme had not met my expectations. It was far too good.

The complaints department at our national broadcaster must have a rather large back-log at the moment. Other than an automated reply, I have yet to receive a response. Maybe I’ll complain about that too.

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