PO Box 306, Glasgow, G21 2AE, Scotland
By Fife Bhoy
Bhoys and Ghirls, do you hide behind the sofa whenever Dermot Desmond appears on telly to give one of his rare interviews? Do you shiver and shake with fear as our Irish billionaire performs his Ernst Blofeld impersonation, threatening world domination and litigation, as he gently strokes his chinchilla cat? SPECTRE, indeed! Do you cringe with embarrassment whenever you spy our beloved chairman, Brian Quinn, on the box, or do you throw the nearest object to hand at the banker? Does Sandy 'Clanger' Clark make you foam at the mouth, or does Rob 'the Pain' McLean rankle? Does Sportscene make you sick or does Scotsport send you to sleep?
If you have answered 'yes' to any of the above, then I have the perfect tonic for you - Celtic TV.
Theoretically, it's a brilliant idea - Tim TV for Tim telly watchers. However, there's an ever-so-slight problem with the practical application of the concept - Celtic TV is probably the worst thing to appear in your living room since those Jehovah's Witnesses barged in.
So far this season, Celtic TV has brought you coverage of Celtic versus Manchester United and Boca Juniors, all the way from the good ol' US of A. And, Celtic TV was live from Lithuania and our 4:0 victory over Kaunas, as well as broadcasting from Budapest and our 4:0 win over MTK Hungary. All four Celtic TV productions have two things in common - they were all crap and they each cost £7.99 for the privilege of watching crap!
Those of you that are fortunate enough not to have seen the full horrors of a Celtic TV production had best look away now. Those that have repressed the memories for the sake of your mental health should do likewise. This is the most painful of viewing that only 'River City' aficionados will empathise with. Yes, it's THAT bad.
Celtic TV should be a breath of fresh air and a marvellously lucrative venture for our Club. After all, if Chelsea can produce a digital TV channel, when all their supporters have the same post code, just imagine the worldwide appeal of a TV channel dedicated to the global phenomenon that is Celtic. A sure-fire winner, surely! All that it needs to be is professional and entertaining. The Hoops will do the rest.
But, no! This is Celtic and corner cutting (or 'judicious balance', as Brian Quinn might say) is de rigueur. Imagine, then, the moment that inspiration came to our PLC. The scene is the Celtic Park Boardroom and, as is customary, petit fours and vintage Krug champagne (Sir Patrick Sheehy's favourite £200 a bottle tipple - though he is, as usual, asleep in the corner) are on the menu.
Despot: Well, Quinine, any new initiatives to fleece the proletariat
(PLC parlance for sensibly priced products to offer the fans)?
And so it came to pass.
The format of Celtic TV is simple enough. Trackside, we have anchorman, Tony 'Bingo Bhoy' Hamilton, usually with a couple of very reluctant and uncomfortable Celtic reservists (shuffling anxiously), and further along the trackside (presumably, not too far, as this would involve more cable, and therefore more expense), we have the lovely Margot McCuaig. Commentary is provided by Archie 'Whoosh' MacPherson and the co-commentator is Stephen 'Altar Bhoy' Sullivan. There is no studio, or anything as remotely conventional as that - not even a tent or a cardboard box for the Celtic TV personnel to huddle in.
Tony, you will recognise as the former 'half-time Paradise Windfall person' - a career that was tragically cut short by a freak knee injury, though Rangers' Dr Hillis insisted Tony was fit to continue. Tony's props are immediately obvious to the viewer - he wears a pair of giant comedy breasts over his ears. Alternatively, these contraptions could be headphones, manufactured circa 1970 and discovered in Bobby Petta's boot locker (well, Bobby doesn't get to wear his football boots too often). Tony also carries the planet's biggest microphone - so big and hairy, I fear that dozens of badgers died needlessly to build it. Anti-vivisectionists, take note!
Tony's job is to present a seamless and thoroughly entertaining show when there is no football on show. A bit of inane chitchat with the Celtic stars of tomorrow that are by his side (but look as though they'd rather be standing beside a hostile throng in downtown Baghdad) and the occasional hand over job to Margot. Easy-peasy! Problem is, Tony is not very good at this - not very good at all. He is constantly fluffing his lines and is continually distracted by whoever is talking to him through the medium of the comedy breasts (if Tony is hearing voices that are not there, he should seek immediate medical advice).
Tony is to TV anchormen what Michael Barrymore is to swimming pool attendants. Tony's interviewing techniques also leave a lot to be desired. This is not Parkinson. More Jim 'Brian Laudrup, why are you so good?' White. Tony's sparkling repartee invariably involves Henrik Larsson. I've now lost count of the number of times Tony has said that The Magnificent Seven should prolong his stay in Paradise. Give it a rest, Tony. If anything is going to drive Henke away, it's this.
However, if before, at half-time or after the game, Tony saps your will to live, then Margot will have you reaching for a bottle of paracetamol, a bread knife and a suicide note. Margot McCuaig is, according to the Celtic View, a member of the 'Newsroom'. Now, I have never read Margot in print in the View, so I must accept the validity of this information, even though Pravda has been known to be occasionally economical with the truth.
However, perhaps it would be better for all concerned if Margot was read and not heard. The lassie's job on Celtic TV is to read your emails, but when I say that her voice would paralyse Mags Haney with fear, you'll understand the viewer's discomfort. Parliamo Margot! And, when I say, 'your emails', I cannot believe for the life of me that any NTV reader, or any self respecting Celt for that matter, would bother his or her arse e-mailing Celtic TV with such banality as "C'mon The Hoops!" and "Hail! Hail! To The Bhoys!"
Don't get me wrong, these are commendable sentiments, but would you want your e-mails read out in best Glesca fishwife? And do you really want to hear 15 torturous minutes or so of this? Emails to stun pigs by! Spam!
Of course, Celtic TV is the direct progeny of the Celtic PLC and delivered verbatim by the Celtic View, therefore one would not expect controversy or, indeed, even contemporary issues to be aired. So, don't expect emails such as "Where did all the money go, Mr Quinn?" or "Why doesn't Dermot dip into his vast fortune and allow Martin to buy a player or two?" That would not be PLC policy - allowing freedom of speech. Don't let the Tims talk, as discontented mutterings could become a clamour!
Another disturbing facet of an evening with Margot is her familiarity with Celtic players. "There's Smudger!" drooled Margot, excitedly, as the diminutive Celt raced past her - determined to avoid her, I'd presume.
Then there's the commentary and, unforgivably for a Celtic TV production, the irrefutable fact that the only professionalism on view is that of Archie MacPherson - the master of the disaster, himself. Archie is a knowledgeable man and the consummate professional commentator, except when it comes to 'the Rangers', of course. Anyone that heard Archie's excitement, when Shota Arveladze scored for Hunnery in Copenhagen, will know precisely on which side Archie's bread is buttered. But, you cannot ignore the fact that, amidst amateur hour and a half with Tony and Margot, Archie knows what the game is all about. Anyway, who can forget Archie's most memorable ever prose: "And, it's Amoruso... oops!" Magical moments!
Alongside the wizened, world-beaten and grizzled face of Archie is the angelic countenance of young Stephen Sullivan; a cherub-like figure that will need to indulge in many depravities and excesses if he is ever to assume the standard facial features of Hackdom - red, swollen and blotchy, and with a girth to match. Stephen has another handicap to overcome, aside from the physical. He will have to dumb down considerably. This young tick actually understands football. This will never do if Stephen is to hack it in the wider world.
However, aside from Archie and the Altar Bhoy, Celtic TV is a profound disappointment and an opportunity lost, apparently, for our Club to gather some much needed revenue for the Paradise coffers. Certainly, Celtic TV does not act as an overwhelming inducement to tune into Margot and Tony on 'Celtic Replay', where this double act of despair also plies its tawdry trade.
Celtic TV, as is, does not augur well for the future and a money making venture into the digital TV age for Celtic. Not like this, anyway! If you consider that the pay-per-view benchmark, SKY Premiership Plus, offers individual games at a fiver and a season-long package of 40 games for £40, you will appreciate that this eccentric effort from Celtic TV is lousy value for money and, being quite frank, a total rip-off. Tony should be wearing a mask, and Margot a gag.
Hard to believe that the PLC would allow such on-screen skulduggery and pick your pockets at the same time, isn't it?
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