Celebrity Beauty: Weighing in at 175st, football’s tubby veterans go into extra time: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV
Published: 20:39 EDT, 18 March 2019 | Updated: 20:43 EDT, 18 March 2019
Harry’s Heroes: The Full English
The Choir: Our School By The Tower
Here’s a problem. Any show that has former football stars re-recording their World Cup pop song deserves one star and a savaging.
And the England players of the Nineties who revisited the dirge-like World In Motion for Harry’s Heroes: The Full English (ITV) were such excruciating singers that one star would be flattery.
However good the cause, there’s no justification for inflicting misery like that on innocent viewers.
Harry Redknapp gathered together some of England’s best footballers from years gone by for Harry’s Heroes: The Full English
Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock appeared in the light-hearted fitness documentary which shone a light on health for middle-aged men
But the rest of this light-hearted fitness documentary, the first of a two-parter that concludes tonight, was fairly entertaining — and an innovative approach to health education for the middle-aged man.
It’s a sort of reality show for pot-bellied males, an elderly lads’ version of those diet-and-dating formats that send lady celebs of a certain age to spend the summer man-hunting by the Med.
So let’s pretend that cringe-inducing assault on the ears didn’t happen, and concentrate on the bits that were bearable.
The show hinged on amiable old Harry Redknapp, the home-loving, tea-slurping rascal who won the nation’s hearts last year on I’m A Celebrity.
He rounded up a squad of ex-players to train for a match against a team of German veterans. It might seem only yesterday that the likes of Robbie Fowler, Paul Merson and David Seaman were playing for England, but these boys had a combined age of 557 years and weighed 175 stone.
A good slab of that was Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock, the journeyman centreback who looks like a nightclub doorman gone to seed. Razor epitomised the biggest health dilemma that older men face: he knew he was at risk of heart disease and diabetes, but everyone relied on him to raise their spirits.
Old-style sitcom of the night
Highly touted as a new kind of comedy, Fleabag (BBC1) delivered a very traditional set-up, as star Phoebe Waller-Bridge ruined her sister’s awards night.
The concept wouldn’t seem out of place in Only Fools.
From the first day in the dressing-room, Razor was having a laugh — dropping his trousers, always taking the proverbial.
How can he turn round and act the puritan? If he starts eating crispbreads and counting alcohol units at parties, his mates aren’t going to laugh … and everyone is Razor’s mate.
Much is written about the pressure on young women to conform to ideals of beauty and fitness. Rather less is said about the macho obligation for older men to squander their health.
After 90 minutes, the team were ready for a warm-up game. Tubby or not, Merson and Matt Le Tissier still look like footballers. I bet current England manager Gareth Southgate wishes they were 20 years younger.
Choirmaster Gareth Malone wouldn’t bother with any of them, though. He had a much better choice of voices in The Choir: Our School By The Tower (BBC2) as he coached pupils in the shadow of Grenfell Tower to put on a musical.
Gareth Malone’s The Choir: Our School By The Tower coached pupils in the shadow of Grenfell Tower for a musical
Kensington Aldridge Academy shone under Gareth’s tutelage in a show full of gentle inspiration
Kensington Aldridge Academy in West London specialises in the performing arts, and the children’s natural talents were well to the fore in this concluding episode.
Gareth is too experienced to simply pick the noisiest extroverts and let them show off. Time and again in his series, he identifies the shy ones with something extra to give, and supplies the encouragement they need to shine.
That worked particularly well with these youngsters, as he gave lashings of confidence to a 14-year-old boy called Adil who has been bounced from one foster home to another all his life.
This was very much a ‘making of a school musical’ documentary. If you don’t have the patience to watch a class sitting round a piano, trying out variations until something sounds right, this might have seemed slow. But it was full of gentle inspiration.