BONFIRE OF THE TALENT
Lysaght exit the latest example of BBC replacing class with claptrap
So Cornelius Lysaght, master of suave words, is going from the airwaves and they think it is business as usual at Tower of Babel HQ, also known as BBC Radio sport.
It is not. For 30 years, Lysaght was the well-modulated voice of racing on the nation’s state-funded Beeb, their supremely well-informed correspondent on everything from the big horsey news to tittle-tattle gossip. He had everyone’s ear in that incestuous world and he was equally trusted by his informants and his listeners.
But, hey, he is white and 54, and as you may have gathered, he is male, and the powers that lust after a youth audience believe he is disposable.
one man’s imminent going might not be a major subject of national debate if it were in isolation. But it isn’t a one-off. His departure from 5 Live forms part of a pattern that cannot be ignored.
Lysaght follows Garry Richardson, presenter of the intelligent
Sportsweek programme, which asked pertinent questions every Sunday morning, and Jonathan overend, the corporation’s fine former tennis correspondent, in filing out of the studio.
Richardson, it should be said, decided of his own volition that he was lightening his duties. But could not Sportsweek have taken on a new presenter?
oh no. They have a cast of pundits spouting second-rate claptrap and that is enough, it seems. Why employ journalists with knowledge and expertise, men and women who can go to the heart of the story, when you can have illiterate nonentities fill the space?
This, we should remind ourselves, is the BBC of John Arlott and Peter Jones, men whose phrase-making enriched the English language in the name of sports broadcasting. ‘The stroke of a man knocking a thistle-top off with his walking stick,’ as Arlott said of Clive Lloyd nonchalantly knocking another boundary in the first cricket World Cup.
Richardson was a disciple of that incomparable broadcaster Cliff Morgan, Welsh fly-half in excelsis. Morgan revelled in those who conjured the telling words, a value he sought to promote when he was himself a high-up Beeb executive.
That was when there was a premium on substance. Contrast that with The Squad, perhaps the most inane abomination ever to have traduced BBC Sport. Sunday lunchtimes will never recover as the diction-free crew mangle every last semblance of syntax. Epigrams, forget it.
Why bother with reportage when you can have another matey phone-in, where drunk, one-eyed Jim rings in to opine witlessly about a game he may or may not have seen?
What’s the value of reporters when shock-jock Robbie Savage and his mother are available?
There are still some outstanding broadcasters in the depleted department: Dan Roan, the Beeb’s best-ever sports editor; John Murray, whose educated Geordie accent brings us balanced, informed insight; and Mike Costello, whose illuminating intonations on boxing and athletics make the hair on one’s back stand on end.
There are others, but they are a diminishing cast.
There is no intention here to quell a legitimate intention to usher in ‘diversity’, a dread word, but that should be based on talent and not on quota.
And, just a thought, what leads us to patronise the youth of today by believing they cannot stomach intelligent information?
Show them the stars as well as the dust, I suggest.
Masters of the mic: Overend (left), Richardson and Lysaght will be sorely missed