Think Balotelli's a drama queen Try Montalbano
00:01 GMT, 5 November 2012
00:01 GMT, 5 November 2012
I for one could not be more grateful that BBC 4 are running the Sicilian detective series Inspector Montalbano.
I am learning so much. First of all, I now know that every building on the island seems to be made from the same cream coloured rock.
That, or some rather over-zealous local council official went a bit crazy with the magnolia paint they clearly got a great deal on.
Nothing to write home about: Mario Balotelli was relatively restrained
Second, I have learned that only about eight people live there.
On the beach, in the town, at the police station, on the roads – not a soul, save for the Inspector, his sidekicks, the odd suspect or witness, and the fragrant young woman he’ll take for a giant plate of so-fresh-it's-still-squirming seafood that he’ll eat with her on the terrace of his favourite restaurant. Which is empty.
Thirdly, I have been getting a weekly crash course in the Italian language, as spoken by Italians. Close study has revealed you say ‘pronto’ when you answer the phone and that aside from a mouth to form words, you also need rolling eyes, fully shruggable shoulders and very wavey arms to be able to express yourself eloquently.
It is, all in all, great late night telly. It is not, however, the great Mario Balotelli.
Not my word, you understand. Nor, indeed, Alan Shearer’s if Saturday’s exchange on Match Of The Day was anything to go by.
The inscrutable Geordie was all fixed grin and no eye contact as his opposite Alan – Hansen – informed the Shearer right ear that ‘you called him great twice’ as once again Manchester City’s enfant terrible striker was put under the microscope.
A shining wall of gritted teeth, through which the former centre forward growled ‘I said good’, said happy. While the eyes said ‘as soon as the red light goes off on that camera..’.
In spite all of this, I really couldn’t fathom from what I’d seen of their highlights, just why it was all about Mario again Even Gary Lineker sounded a little surprised as he made the very same point, and I must say it did feel like they were hammering an editorial square peg into a round hole.
Smooth: Inspector Montalbano (right) with one of his 'fragrant' beauties
Sure, we saw images of a manager barking instructions at a player, and the same player looking disgruntled at coming off and sitting solemnly on the bench as he zipped up his coat. Yet no water bottles appeared to go flying. Nor did he make straight for the tunnel. All in all, by Sicilian TV body language standards, the pair might have barely exchanged brief ‘how do you dos’.
Which probably explains why Mancini looked as baffled as Lineker had done, when asked twice in the post match interview if it got on his nerves answering questions about Mario Balotelli. Think I might have spotted the eyes on a bit of a roll then!
Of course the young Italian will make headlines again. However, on November 3rd, he seemed to do nothing to warrant it. Lest we forget, though, you’re likely reading this on 5th of November. So if you ARE looking for some Super Mario gunpowder, treason and plot…
Come the following morning on Sky Sports, and there wasn’t even really a mention of him on Goals On Sunday in their coverage of Man City’s trip to West Ham. As the theme song says, Sunday mornings are decidedly ‘easy’ in the exceptionally capable hands of Ben Shephard and Chris Kamara, and they were clearly much more laid back about what they’d seen at Upton Park.
Personable: Chris Kamara is normally relaxed
Which is – unless Kammy is on a mission with the officials – the way of a pair who are one of the best teams in televised sport. Their rapport puts them right up there with the BBC’s F1 boys and Jeff Stelling and the team on a Saturday.
What’s more, it helps make their weekly guests feel really relaxed, so that you get so much more from the players and managers who arrive on their settee than you’ll see pretty much anywhere else on the box.
It’s a long show, happy to take it’s time in allowing everyone to have their say about all the action and incidents, as well as discuss their own careers and lives. This week was no exception, with two excellent guests in former Bolton colleagues Stuart Holden and Patrice Muamba.
By Kammy’s standard in particular, this was a rather sombre day on the shirt front, but young American Holden certainly helped brighten the place up with a pair of truly appalling union flag socks. He was also very engaging, funny and pretty ‘northern’ nowadays in the accent department, which certainly helped with the dead pan delivery when he enquired at the end of the show as to where he could make a donation to Kammy’s Movember ‘tache
However, it was the presence of Muamba that really made the morning. The fact that he was there and well would have been good enough. But it was also a pleasure to listen to a man whose quietly spoken, thoughtful words couldn’t have been further away from where Mario’s do their business.
Ben pointed out that they had been inundated with well wishers on email enquiring about his future. Patrice replied that he would ‘take his time… then see where I fit in, in the football world’.
Here’s hoping it somewhere nice and snug. The game could do with his company.