Paul Casserly 's Opinion

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

Paul Casserly: As happy as a penguin in a microwave

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Sports commentator Stephen McIvor. Photo / File
Sports commentator Stephen McIvor. Photo / File

The Olympics came and went like it always does. We're unsure about it initially, then hopelessly addicted and then ready to give it up just 10 seconds before it stops, leaving us bereft. There was so much to love: I couldn't get enough of the women's heptathlon, the weightlifting, the pole-vaulting. We all lapped up the magic laid on by our rowers, our sailers our horsey types, our Mr Manawatu, our hockey moms and our queen of 'hugs not drugs' - Valerie Adams.

The opening and closing ceremonies were sensational things, full of music, action and humour. I don't recall many gags at the Beijing ceremony or at our own Rugby World Cup for that matter, but London certainly had laughs.

James Bond and the Queen leaping from a helicopter, Eric Idle as a human cannonball, Russell Brand as Willy Wonka. Shame our commentary wasn't able to provide much in the way of useful information let alone humour. No mention of Brand as Wonka, no explanation of the hundreds of scooters that appeared in way of tribute to the mods of Quadrophenia, in fact so many things of actual interest were completely ignored although Stephen McIvor managed to say "Russell Brand" when the text "Russell Brand" appeared on screen.

Then his co-host then shouted, "Jackie J is in da house," like a drunk auntie at a wedding. It was of course Jessie J who was in da house. I do have sympathy for these guys, who were no doubt working in makeshift conditions on a povo NZ budget, possibly in a broom cupboard watching a 14 inch TV.

Engaging commentary is easy to criticise and hard to deliver. Mostly they had the good sense to shut up, but it still felt like a missed opportunity. Why not give the job to people who have a way with words? That would be better than cliché machines who dribble out pointless waffle - "The Union Jack flies proudly in the Olympic stadium" or "That's one hell of a catwalk" or this insightful observation about the London's black cabs that delivered the Spice Girls - "They come in all shapes and sizes now, and dare I say it, they're not just black." Stephen could have got better material if he'd googled that shit. He could have mentioned the playstation 2 game London Taxi: Rushour perhaps? Presumably not one of the console's biggest selling titles. At least he could have brought up the late King of Tonga.

Don't get me wrong, I usually enjoy the ramblings of shambling and bewildered sportscasters, but we are actually paying for this stuff. It should be better not worse than it used to be. And if it's going to be moronic it needs to be the inspired lunacy of the Murray Mexted variety.

Sky had some great people working at these games, both here and in London, but the opening and closing ceremonies had me feeling nostalgic for the genial bumblings of Keith Quin. Clearly we need some high performance training for our commentators. Or maybe just let The Crowd Goes Wild team do the lot? That would work. Or we could just do away with the commentary altogether and rely on twitter, where the closing ceremony was described thus:

@Martinrowson "What Vegas would be like every night if the Nazis had won the war."
@h_yd_n "NOOOO JESSIE J IS BACK TO RUIN EVERYTHING!"

Haven't had enough Olympics yet? Leigh Hart's Olympico wraps it all up in anti-style at 9pm on Wednesday (Comedy Central).

Watch how a French commentary team dealt with the Spice Girls at the closing ceremony here. One of them explains the meaning of Posh Spice's name - "Like a snob."

RIP. Legendary British darts commentator Sid Waddell passed away on the weekend.

Among his famous lines "Look at the man go: it's like trying to stop a water buffalo with a pea-shooter." And this for a player who was losing - "He looks as happy as a penguin in a microwave."

Talk about having a way with words.

Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

It began with Dr Who, in black and white, when it was actually scary. The addiction took hold with Chips, in colour. He made his mum knit a Starsky and Hutch cardigan. Later, Twin Peaks would blow what was left of his mind. He’s been working in radio and TV since the 1990s and has an award in his pool room for Eating Media Lunch.

Read more by Paul Casserly

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