BBC / Media / TV

I’m a tennis widower . . .

And who’s this guy who’s taken over my TV?


I’ve always sympathised with football widows, who have to endure endless on-screen hours of overpaid idiots kicking a ball around.

But now I’m a tennis widower.

Gloria’s become obsessed with this sportsman whose pronouncements on Scottish independence are trumpeted in the media like the ability to bat a ball around suddenly makes him a political pundit.

I did try, honestly, to get into the swing of things, and I do admit there were occasional moments when I could almost make it. But the main thing that stopped me from becoming a fanatic was the arcane rules of this strange game.

OK, I realise that the score doesn’t go up logically. Zero is called “love” (is that based on the Shakespearian slang application of the zero to the female pudendum, as in Much Ado About NOTHING? Or Hamlet’s “Did you think I meant country matters?”?).

The score goes up from love to fifteen, then to thirty, then to forty. That much I’ve got my head round, though one, two, three would make more sense to me.

And if both players have got to forty, then it’s deuce (AKA a tie). If at that point, one player scores over the other, then it’s “advantage whoever”.

Then we enter the arcane world of break points, aces etc and I get entirely lost.

And when a serve hits the net, shouldn’t there be some sort of a penalty, like baseball’s “three strikes and you’re out” rule?

Now here’s where an intelligent commentary could be a big help. But the BBC commentaries are so inane, so often devoted to parading the speaker’s superior knowledge over all us mere mortals, that I’m tempted to hit the “mute” button. That would also have the side benefit of cutting out the massed unison clapping that must put off the players as much as it irritates me.

But otherwise the soundtrack does add to the atmosphere.

Why can’t the BBC offer a variety of two or three commentary options, accessible via the red button, eg

  • as is now,
  • for beginners only, or
  • blab-off?

Footage-wise, I think the TV cameramen do a good job, except when they zero in on completely (to me) unknown faces. OK, that pretty lady is probably a player’s girlfriend, and the glamorous grandmother is probably his mum. But how about putting up a caption to show us why you’re zooming them up to fill our screens?

I did see the final minutes of You-know-who’s victory, but it seemed to me completely a matter of chance. His opponent had been leading all the way till then, when what looked to me like a completely random accidental fault made the Scottish fish-face (not my description, but one I found on the media) the richest man on my screen.

Oh, by the way, my form teacher at the Bec School in Tooting was Mr Austin, known universally as Bunny. And I do know why, so I’m not a complete tennis ignoramus.

But I would like to have my TV screen back now, please.

(BTW, thanks to this monopolisation of the living room screen I did get round to mowing the lawn!)


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