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STAN HEY & ANDREW NICKOLDS
Hold the Back Page


click to enlarge

Futura, London, 1985
price: 1.95; 208 pages


The blurb on the backs:

Ken Wordsworth is getting into a whole new ball game.
A brilliant sports journalist and an incompetent husband, Ken's career is on the up but his marriage is on the rocks. Lured away from a posh Sunday paper to a popular daily tabloid in the hope of reaching the masses - the 27,500 plus expenses had nothing to do with it - he sets out to take a fresh look at the sporting life.
Known as the 'Poet Laureate of Sport' (although he thinks the phrase 'lunchtime drinking is the most poetic phrase in the English language) Ken always gets into the frame - despite being handicapped by a roving eye, a raving ex-wife and Charlie, a very on-the-ball son.


opening lines:
Somehow Ken had hoped for more of a send off. He'd not really enjoyed the drinks party his colleagues - or rather his ex-colleagues - had thrown together for him. The hearty back-slapping and raucous jokes wear a bit thin when you're rather the worse for wear.


Stan Hey and Andrew Nickolds aren't necessarily household names (well, in their own households, obviously), but they have written some big shows. In particular they took over the acclaimed sitcom Agony and wrote the second and third series: not my taste, 'cos I hate Maureen Lipman, but sharper than most British stuff at the time. And later on they did The Lenny Henry Show - that was the sitcom about Delbert Wilkins - which ran for two series. In a solo capacity, Stan Hey also wrote a substantial chunk of the original Auf Wiedersehn Pet, and The Manageress.

In between that lot came this show in ten one-hour episodes. And I have absolutely no memory of it whatsoever. I don't think I ever saw it, so I can't really comment.

Oh, all right then, I'll comment. The book is uninspiring - it plods, it lacks any sense of sparkle and the good gags are as rare as Chinese Jim Davidson fans. And they don't make up for the poor printing and paper quality.

However, I have the feeling that this would have made a fine TV series. The premise is good - a high-falutin' broadsheet sports writer plunges downmarket to become a red-top hack - whilst David Warner is always worth watching. And the episodic structure, which is one of the things that screws up the book, is of course precisely what makes a TV show tick. I'd be interested in seeing it, but I shan't bother with the book again.


ARTISTIC MERIT: 2/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
1/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
1/5


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