BBC's Lineker solution? Offer Jeff Stelling the job and it’s Gary who? | The Sun

MOST welcome broadcast of the week arrived, unscheduled, in BBC1’s traditional Football Focus slot, on Saturday at midday.

An episode of Bargain Hunt where a very focused red team was looking for something, “random, functional and wooden”.

Well, tough luck, girls. Alex Scott’s taken time off, in a fit of empty, self-righteous pique that’s become her hallmark.

She’s not the only one either. The entire Focus team had joined her, along with Match Of The Day’s Ian Wright and Alan Shearer and Final Score’s Jason Mohammad who all, I’m sure, wrestled night and day with the discomfort of presenting the 2022 World Cup from Qatar, where 6,500 migrant workers died to make the tournament possible.

But now they’d finally found a hill on which they were ­prepared to die. And it’s a Gary Lineker tweet.

An ill-judged tweet comparing our own migrant crisis to Nazi Germany that, I must confess, I’d hoped and assumed would go away.


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However it didn’t, thanks to the BBC, who began last week by leading with the story, on the main evening news and then, in a spasm of unfathomable stupidity, ended it by ­suspending Lineker from his MoTD duties.

Not the route I’d have taken, as common sense demanded BBC boss Tim Davie had a private “chat” with Lineker where he gave him a history lesson about both the Third Reich and his own career, which owes everything to the loyalty of the BBC who have, over many years, fashioned him into a decent football presenter.

Spasm of stupidity

Had it failed to register with him that the BBC’s sacred concept of impartiality is more ­important than any presenter’s Twitter feed, Davie should’ve discretely approached Jeff Stelling, TV’s best live sports anchor, offering him a bigger salary than Gary’s to host MoTD and Final Score.

And if he turned them down? He should’ve made either the ­brilliant Hazel ­Irvine or Gabby Logan the first permanent female host, and watched all of Lineker’s fairweather PC friends vanish into thin air.

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Instead, the BBC chose option C, prompting a mass walkout by the BBC’s football staff whose “solidarity” was laughably described by fellow travellers as “brave and heroic,” even though they knew they’d be torn to shreds and cancelled by Twitter if they failed to toe the “free speech” line.

Purely for the sake of comedy, I’d have been tempted to call in the Army to present Saturday’s Match Of T­he Day, with a regimental sergeant major in the Lineker role, gruffly asking: “Was ­Martinelli in an offside ­position then, you ’orrible little man?”

Thankfully, I suppose, wiser heads prevailed for once.

The trouble with strikes, though, as border security employees recently discovered when troops stood in for them, is that they often shine a light on the shortcomings of regular staff.

So it proved, this week, as MoTD’s audience increased by 500,000 and the only thing I genuinely missed on the scaled-back MoTD, shorn of all its BS, was the theme tune.

The really welcome absence, however, was Football Focus where on the February 25 ­episode Alex Scott had not one single word to say about the 30th anniversary of Bobby Moore’s death, presumably because of the time it would’ve eaten into features on the mental health of French women’s captain Wendie ­Renard and the Football v Homophobia awards.

Even as a card-carrying Tartan Army member, who has trouble mentioning a ­certain event that happened between 1965 and 1967, this struck me as deranged, so I can only imagine how it must have made England fans feel.

It does go to the real root of the Lineker issue, though, and highlights how the cult of woke has captured and swamped the BBC with a left-of-centre agenda that infects and ruins everything from its panel shows and soaps to its news, dramas and even ­Football-bloody-Focus.

Empty ‘victory’

This week’s sorry events were an acknowledgement of this problem but dealt with so stupidly they’ve created a martyr, given Jermain Defoe the moral high ground and handed the emptiest ever “victory” to Twitter’s “free speech” warriors — the very same people who’d have hounded Lineker into oblivion if he’d ever dared to compare Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-semitic version of the Labour Party to the Third Reich.

The BBC’s sense of ­impartiality now also looks fatally compromised.
And once that’s gone? Well, just like the blue team on ­Saturday’s Bargain Hunt, you end up with a worthless ­“basket/case”.

Unexpected morons in the bagging area

THE Chase, Bradley Walsh: “ is the website of which X Factor pop star?”

George: “Alexandra Burke.”

Bradley Walsh: “What name for a male red deer goes before ‘beetle’ in the name of a large insect?”

Helen: “Dung.”

Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “Holly Johnson was the lead singer of which chart-topping 1980s band from ­Liverpool?”

Anne: “Steps.”

Ben Shephard: “Musselburgh, Perth and Kelso are racecourses in which ­country of the UK?”

Kelly: “Australia.”

Random irritations

EMMA, Oti and Rylan whingeing their way up a steep incline for Comic Relief.

Channel 4 making a two-hour docu- mentary about Paula Yates’ relationship with the Press without any mention of the fact she was a Sun columnist.

Win Every Argument author Mehdi Hasan losing GMB’s entire audience when he said: “Winston Churchill wasn’t the best of ­orators.”

All those appalling, over-emotional ego-driven speeches at the Oscars.

And Best Costume Designer Ruth E Carter thanking the Academy “for recognising the superhero that is a black woman”. ’Cos Ruth, luv, you make frocks. You’re not Rosa Parks.

STARSTRUCK, team Justin Bieber: “Is it too late now to say I’m sorry.”

Far too late.


GENERATION snowflake is still probably stamping its little feet with fury at the treatment dished out to the five female semi-finalists on last night’s Apprentice.

“So much for the sisterhood and blah blah blah,” they’ll bleat.

Personally, though, I think it’s to BBC1 and the show’s great credit they employ the last four people on television, Linda Plant, Claude Littner, Mike Soutar and Karren Brady, who understand the cold, hard truth will serve these flannelling contestants far better in the long run, than indulging their wild fantasies and over-entitled egos with empty woke aphorisms like: “Be whoever you want to be.”

Karren, or “Baroness Brady” as she suddenly insisted on being called, was the “trusted adviser” who drew the most blood and made both former Emirates trolley dolly Victoria Goulbourne and Dani Donovan, the Piella Bakewell lookalike, cry in the process.

My own favourite, and the woman who can save even the duffest series, however, remains Linda Plant, who doesn’t just tell you the interview is terminated.

She shuffles her notes theatrically, smiles sweetly, as if she’s about to deliver the best news ever and then tells Victoria: “Airlines will always need good stewardesses.”

Then she tells you the interview is terminated.

Quite magnificent.

CELEBRITY Mastermind, Clive Myrie: “Dear viewer, tonight’s celebrities are used to the spotlight, the trappings of fame, the adulation, but the black chair ain’t gonna ask for your autograph, the ticking clock ain’t gonna slow ’cos you’re famous.”

Dear Clive, it’s Jayne Middlemiss, Neil Delamere, Harpreet Kaur and Amar Latif.

Great sporting insights

GLENN HODDLE: “Spurs haven’t got anyone who can go past their man. There’s no one out there who can. Son is the only one.”

Stuart Pearce: “Well, it’s a 24,000 dollar question.”

Michael Owen: “Salah makes it look easy but it is actually very easy.”

(Compiled by Graham Wray)

TV Gold

THE annual Apprentice bloodbath, at the interviews stage.

The Gold’s brilliant writer Neil ­Forsyth inserting a Dundee United retro top and the names of club legends “(Ralph) Milne and (Paul) Sturrock” into one of the BBC1 drama’s prison scenes.

Sky Nature’s hidden gem Dehesa: Forest Of The Iberian Lynx.

And BBC2’s underplayed masterpiece Parole, which might come with a depressing sting in the tail every week, but it’s revealing, brilliantly edited and has dialogue too good to be scripted from ne’er-do-wells like Mark Elwood, who had the perfect excuse for everything a board member threw at him except: “In 2009, you were ­sentenced for possession of an imitation firearm?”

“Yeah, I hold my hands up to that one.” It’s the best show ­currently on telly.

  • INCIDENTALLY, at the end of every Parole episode, the BBC asks: “Could you make a decision about someone’s right to parole?” Yeah. None of them are ­getting out.

Great TV lies and delusions of the week

GREAT TV lies and ­delusions of the week.

Starstruck, Shania Twain: “I believe Stevie Nicks would’ve been really ­flattered by what you did tonight.”

Love Island, Maya Jama: “After the break, we’ll be crowning the winners. You don’t want to miss it.”

And Sex Actually, fat fetish week, Alice Levine: “Ivy’s aim is get the world to love and accept ‘feedism’ and she’s not going to stop for anything.” Except, probably, a heart attack.


Sky planner: “Live At The Apollo: The inimitable Tom Allen introduces the ­fantastic Rosie Jones and the wonderful Kae Kurd.”

’Cos what I think it meant to say was: “The poor man’s Alan Carr introduces the inevitable Rosie Jones and some piece of rhyming slang, to make up the ­numbers.”

I’m happy to set the record straight.

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Lookalike of the week

THIS week’s winner is Karl as “Robbie Williams” on Saturday’s Starstruck and Vinnie Jones.

Sent in by Paul Burkett, of Millwall, South London.

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