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I grew up with the only choice for sport on television being between BBC and ITV, with World of Sport and Grandstand being the major sports programmes around. Nowadays, Sky Sports has taken sports presentation to a new level (even if they may be a slight risk of overkill). The coverage and innovations sky has introduced to its presentations (especially in football and rugby) now make their coverage the best available by far. Unfortunately I don’t have access to sky anymore, which means that I miss out on some of the main sporting events of the year (live premiership football, England’s home rugby matches, overseas cricket tours), but I don’t begrudge sky their domination of sport on television. They stuck their necks on line by buying the rights to football at a time when there were few bidders for it and the success they have achieved with it has carried on into other sports. If I could afford to get sky sports I would make no mistake. On the terrestrial front, the BBC have had their hands tied by various director generals and have not been able to make the required bids to keep the flagship sports they used to have (the Ryder Cup, Grand Prix Racing International Cricket etc), but Greg Dyke seems to be more sport orientated so a revival for BBC sport may be on the cards. Cricket lovers looked on channel 4’s acquisition of Cricket from BBC in horror at the time, adverts in the middle of a game for heavens sake. But fair play to C4, their coverage and the team presenting it are fantastic, far above the BBC (even if they haven’t got too much in the way of coverage for rain delays). For ITV, well the less said about them the better, if there is ever an event on both BBC and ITV, BBC will be the winner every time, ITV’s presentation just looks so amateurish. On the whole, satellite coverage is far above that of the terrestrial networks, but C4 and C5 (coverage of US sports have bee
n great, even if the football coverage is very poor) are improving rapidly, the BBC can put on a great show when it wants to (just look at the Olympic coverage, absolutely fantastic), with ITV being for me the worst station in broadcasting right now.
The England managers job, once held up as the ultimate job in football management, is now looked upon as a poison chalice. After all the recent England managers have had to put up with, turnip Taylor, Glenda Hoddle, and even Bobby Robson had to endure endless criticism until he guided us to the world cup semi final. The England job needs someone with experience, tactical knowledge, the respect of his players and above all good PR skills, but for they stick they will undoubtedly get both personal and professional from the press, it would need to be someone with great strength of character. This rules out the vast majority of premier league managers (those with the desired qualities like Wenger and Ferguson would never leave their highly paid jobs for the England job). The press and bookies have been pushing for Terry Venables, who did reasonably well when he last held the job, but there is no way the FA would have him back anyway. (Apart from that, he hasn’t covered himself in glory since he left last time, see Portsmouth and Crystal Palace). Personally I would like to see Peter Reid in the job, an excellent motivator and tactician who has also played at the top level. He has improved every club he has managed and you know he wouldn’t shirk from the pressures of the job. (If not him, then Bryan Robson, not because he is any good, but because it would mean that Boro would get a decent manager at last)
Is it just me, or has the number of rail accidents/faults increased noticeably since the rail was privatised. Is this a result of the privatised companies cutting their costs as much as possible as they are now more concerned about their shareholders and profit margin than anything else? I am not suggesting that we nationalise the rail industry again, but surely there has to be a better way of ensuring that all the privatised rail companies are responsible for the safety of the services, which they provide. Whether this could be in the form of a levy whereby any rail company making huge profits could have their profits capped and anything they make over this amount would have to be reinvested in rolling stock and track safety (I know Railtrack are responsible for track safety, but the rail companies should have to contribute to track safety as well). The current space of investment, caused by the recent accidents is nothing more than a knee jerk reaction. Something needs to be put in place to ensure that future safety is paramount and not an afterthought.
The noble sport of foxhunting goes back centuries, to the time when game sports like falconry and cock fighting were popular amongst the upper echelons of the aristocracy. They were sports that provided entertainment for the rich and titled. Nowadays, people say foxhunting is needed to cull the vermin that is the fox, and that to end the sport would mean a loss of several thousand jobs amongst the country set. Let us look at these two points, firstly is fox hunting is such an effective way of culling the foxes, why is it only carried out in certain parts of the country and then you have to acknowledge that shooting a fox with a bullet is a more humane way of ending that animals life than letting it be ripped to shreds by a pack of dogs. Secondly, would the end of foxhunting mean a loss of several thousand jobs? I don’t think so. If the hunts were to use a man made scent, laid prior to the hunt, they could still carry on their sport without having to kill a fox at the end of it, thus all the jobs involved in hunting now would be preserved. To my mind, foxhunting is barbaric; it is outdated and serves no purpose other than to appease the bloodthirsty nature of the country set. Stop it now!
I believe that a terminally ill person should be able to make a decision for himself or herself on how they will die; after all they have decided how they lived! Euthanasia is a way of giving terminally ill people a chance of dieing the way that they want to, rather than having to suffer any more than they need to. I am not saying that anyone should be able to go into the nearest doctors and arrange their own deaths, not by a long chalk, I don’t think that euthanasia should be an option for anyone other than those who are suffering from terminal illnesses and then only after all possible treatments have been used. I for one would not want to be made to suffer a lingering death if there was no possible cure. I would appreciate been able to decide how my life should end, not just for myself but also to stop the suffering of my family. Is there anything worse than watching someone you love have to suffer and your helpless to do anything to help? I know people will say that its against the bible, and that you should not take life under any circumstances, but there again the bible is one of the most hypocritical books ever made, with even the gospels contradicting themselves.
I believe that the time has come for TV licences to be scrapped. Why should the population have to pay over £100 per household for just 2 of the vast number of channels now available? The reason is, BBC do not have commercial breaks. The adverts are shown on all of the commercial channels and I for one do not believe that they seriously interrupt our enjoyment of the programmes being shown. In some cases, you actually look forward to the adverts as an opportunity to refresh yourself by making a snack or nipping to the loo, whereas when you are watching something on BBC you have to wait or you will miss something. From a programming point of view, BBC would get more revenue from advertisements than they currently do from licence fees, thus enabling them to either produce more programmes, or try to regain some of the flagship sporting events that they have lost in recent years. I may have missed the point, but just why does the BBC insist on being funded through a licence fee when they could get a far higher portion of the money available for television.
Southampton are one of those teams which every year seem to be struggling to avoid relegation. They are a team with a major handicap in the stadium they play in being so small that they receive only a fraction of the gate revenue of most premiership teams. With Dave Jones being officially removed from the saints, Glenn Hoddle is now in complete charge of the team. Whilst he will get them playing in an attractive manner, I can not see them being in the premiership for 2001/2 season as their squad is in strong enough and they do not have the funds to strengthen in the way other teams do.
The real team of Manchester, (united being in Salford), the fan base of City is vast, one which the majority of teams in the country can only dream about. This first season back in the premiership is vital to the team. If they survive it, they could become one of the major players in British football as they begin to reap the benefit of the increase in money they are receiving. In Joe Royle, they have a very capable manager, and they have made an encouraging start to the new season. However I still think that they do not have enough quality in their team to survive, especially if suspensions and injuries begin to mount.
After years of trying and failing to get through the play off system, I for one am very pleased to see Ipswich in the Premier League. Ipswich may be in a so called football backwater, but they have consistently played the game in an entertaining way, that should see them survive in the Premiership. The arrival of Ipswich will also give me the chance to welcome back to Middlesbrough, one of my all time favourite players in Tony Mowbray, even if it is only in Mogga’s role as a coach. Welcome back Ipswich and enjoy your return Mogga!
Derby have for the second season running made a very poor start to the premiership season, and even though they have been scoring a lot of goals lately, they just can not stop conceding them. This will lead to the rams going down to division one this year. (Which several people may feel is deserved after their blatant unsporting behaviour in the game against Boro). I for one will be disappointed to see them go, Jim Smith has been a superb manager throughout his career and there are far more boring teams in the league than them (Leicester anyone?). But even the bald eagle must be wondering how much longer he will be in work if results don’t improve soon.
Monopoly has been around for years, and it is trying to undergo something of an image change with different editions of the game coming out all the time. (Star Wars, Star Trek, London, New York etc). The basic idea of the game is to amass as much money and property as you can, whilst causing your friends to be bankrupted. It is a game so basic everyone creates their own way of playing it and their own individual rules. If you are bored and want to pass a few hours before doing something interesting, monopoly is just the thing for you and a few friends(preferably with a few bottles of beer)
Pharoah is a strategy game along the lines of SimCity and its ilk. This is a game where resource management is more important than the ability to anihilate your enemies. Unlike SimCity however, Pharoah does allow you and indeed insists that you can maintain an effective military presence. The main aims of the game are to improve four factors to move on to the next level in the game. Easy? I don't think so if you spend too much time on one factor, you are bound to lose out on the others. The factors measured are: 1)Prosperity: this is effected by how many Debens(money) you city makes/loses although it is also effected by the standard of your housing in the city. Basically you need to make an annual profit to increase your prosperity. 2)Culture: the higher the quality of life in your city, the higher the culture rating will be, so a city with dentists/doctors/library/dancers etc will have a increased culture rating. 3)Monument rating: this is not needed on the early levels in the game and when it is needed, it is quite straight forward to achieve. Build the monument asked for in the mission briefing and you will achieve your target. 4)Empire rating: this shows how your city is perceived by the rest of the Egyption civilisation and it is effected by how often you meet the requests asked of you by the Pharoah, fail to make your requests and your rating falls. If it falls too low, Pharoah will send his troops against you. This is not an easy game, you need to be able to balance city expansion against cost, trade against needs. It is a game which will keep you engrosed and coming back for more.
Marketed as the best British film since ‘The Full Monty’, Billy Elliot is the story of a young boy who wants to dance. Billy played by Stephen Daldry in his film debut, is encouraged to go boxing and he doesn’t find what he wants. Much to the disgust of his father a striking miner, Billy joins a ballet school run by Julie Walters. Amid much fun and humour with emotional pulls as well, we are treated to a glorious piece of British film. Not to be missed.
Top Ten Films 1) The Empire Strikes Back:- A deliciously dark film, the best in a superb series 2) Schindlers List:- A sad moving film showing the horrors people can do to each other 3) Dead Poets Society:- A very inspirational yet sad film 4) Star Wars:- What a story, fantastic 5) Sparticus:- The origional gladiator epic with Kirk Douglas in top form 6) Ben Hur:- Another from the age of epic films 7) The Great Escape:- Boys own POW adventure with Steve McQueen on a bike 8) Reach for the Sky:- Douglas Baders inspirational life story 9) Gladiator:- Best film in years 10) Cocktail:- Cheap, Cheesy, but so what great fun
Top Ten Comedies 1) Blackadder: - without doubt the funniest history series ever, the things Baldrick could do with a turnip. 2) Only Fools and Horses: - Del Boy and Rodders nearly reach the top. 3) The Simpsons :- And they said Americans didn’t have humour 4) Never Mind the Buzzcocks :- This can not be a quiz its so cool 5) The Young Ones:- Student life was never so much fun 6) The Fast Show:- Paul Whitehouse and friends, fun for all ages 7) Tommy Cooper:- The master of the fez, unchallenged in funny actions 8) Spitting Image:- A revalation when it hit our screens 9) Frasier:- Manages to make ‘Cheers’ seem poor, top show 100 Vic Reeves Big Night Out:- Funniest pig farmer I know