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Reviews: TV:
Soccer AM
Sky Sports
A whole new world has opened up since cable TV was installed. Long gone are the days where I prepared food or carried out some DIY whilst listening to 5-Live or Capital Gold: it's now a case of grabbing food at half-time or not at all. Consequently, all planning goes out of the window - I mean, how often do you say, "I'll sort my wardrobe out tonight", or "I'll tidy the house up" and then find there's a football match on Sky, forcing you to be a couch potato for that evening. Naturally, this spreads to the weekend and this is where Soccer AM comes in.

One particular Saturday morning, I awoke reasonably early and followed a bloke's natural instinct to put the tele on and then flop into the favourite armchair armed with 2000 remote controls. The brain instructed the hand to fire-up Sky Sports and this show appeared. There were two presenters (nothing unusual there) and one was female and they were talking football. As this was vaguely interesting at this time in the morning, I left the remote on the side and sat back to let the chat wash over me. I actually found myself paying attention after a while. The female presenter, Helen Chamberlain (AKA Hels-Bells), seemed to have most of the characteristics that 99% of the blokes in this country would die for, namely a sense of humour; love of football; long dyed-blonde hair (okay, a fav of mine) and good pair of... sorry, it was early in the morning. Just to show that I'm into equality, the male presenter, Tim Lovejoy, was not too pretentious and was subtly quite funny. He is the apparent "King of the Jack Douglas", which involves 'throwing' the right shoulder forward whilst remaining still with the right arm relaxed (?). Before I knew it, a couple hours had passed and it was the end of the show. I was suitably impressed and made a note for next week.

The format of the show revolves around a plethora (today's word) of small features that involve callers and studio guests, whether they be famous footballers, personalities or members of joe public. Most of these features are good ("Soccer Locker", "The 3rd Eye", "Can he still kick it?", "The Showboat") and sensibly, they don't go on too much, but there are duff bits, namely the "Wheel of Football" where a famous footy bloke stands (usually uncomfortably) and spins a wheel and then answers piss-easy questions to gain time relating to the amount of action they can show of that footballer. The last thing, surely, a footballer wants to see is himself and everyone in the studio lauding him as the best thing since sliced bread - a bit cringeworthy. "The Showboat" highlights the top three fancy football moments from the past week; "The 3rd Eye" shows three unintentional or curious acts captured by the cameras and the "Soccer Locker" asks a studio caller to guess the famous footballer via a series of clues that come from the locker. The sometimes funny, sometimes not funny, "Can he still kick it?" is where a old famous footballer gets one chance to beat the "Fat Cat" (AKA Terry from Brookside) from the penalty spot. It's amusing to catch up on the heroes of yester-year to discover what they look like and what they are doing now: does anybody remember when Nigel Callaghan appeared on the show - a bit of a tele-tubby.

Throughout the show there are "The fans of the week", who are an eight strong unit of loyal supporters that sit in the newly christened Luther Blissett stand located within the main studio. Their function is to sit and be quite loud for four hours and then take part in "I can't believe it's not bullseye", which requires the FoTW to kick as many footballs throw a hole in a goal from about 12 yards. It's ironic that the first Soccer AM I saw featured Watford fans as FoTW (were any connected to BSaD?). (Our client would like to deny all knowledge and disclaim any responsibility - BSaD Lawyer)

For a show that last from 8am to 12pm, it does rather well mainly because it is easily accessible. It doesn't take itself seriously, it's good light-hearted fun and is perfect TV fodder for a Saturday morning. The presenters do work well together and aren't too chummy as we often see on GMTV, daytime TV etc. They have the F-factor which of course stands for football. I can imagine that some people wouldn't like it, but I believe the majority would. Anyway, who could pass up the opportunity to stare at Hels-Bells, especially as she's been to the Vic at least twice this year!

Matt Bunner