Match of the Day review: hollow zombie show proves the magic of Gary Lineker and co
This weekend’s zombie version of Match of the Day proves the magic of the traditional episodes
and live on Freeview channel 276
Making a successful TV show is often described in terms akin to searching for the perfect alchemic formula.
If producers, directors, writers and showrunners are constantly searching for the way to transform lead into gold, the BBC have stumbled into the minor miracle of being able to perform this transmutation in reverse. Taking the Philosopher Stone and using it to make gold turn back into lead.
It might be only March, but it is hard to imagine that a TV network anywhere on this planet will perform a more spectacular act of self-sabotage in the months to come. If you were lucky enough not to have watched the reanimated corpse that was Match of the Day on Saturday (11 March) let me paint you a picture.
Due to boycotts by presenters, pundits and commentators, the BBC were simply only able to show snippets of highlights from the games accompanied by the sound of the crowds alone. It is like booting up FIFA and playing a match with the TV on mute.
The lack of commentary, due to the broadcaster not having the rights to use the Premier League’s global feed, turns a farcical situation into a complete joke. Major decisions are made by VAR without the familar explanation about what has gone on - Liverpool are given a penalty, but if you looked away and didn’t see what the check is for, you would be none the wiser.
All you have is the crowd noise, which sounds oddly distant and removed, echoing around the room, lingering like the ringing in your ears after a concert has ended. It is an eerily surreal experience, akin to a waking dream.
It is such a pitiful offering that it makes you question why the BBC even bothered to go ahead with it. Surely no Match of the Day is better than this hollowed out, shell of a product served up tonight.
On the face of it MOTD appears to be simple: highlights of matches you likely already know the results from, a couple of interview clips and a few minutes of analysis. But when that is all stripped away you realise just how magic the formula is.
The familiarity, the warmth of Gary Lineker’s presenting style and his rapport with pundits like Ian Wright or Alan Shearer. It has been a constant throughout most if not all of our lives, you know that every Saturday night or Sunday morning MOTD will be there.
Sure you might have a gripe or two about the order, grumbling that “my team should be first”, but yet we still tune in. However that is all part of the magic, the MOTD experience if you will.
The zombie version served up by the BBC this weekend is likely to rank high among the worst television on offer in 2023. And it also puts paid to claims by channels such as GB News and TalkTV that Lineker and co are deadweight who are no longer needed - because if this is the alternative, I would honestly pay the Match of the Day regulars £100m a year to avoid having to suffer through it again.