Egon- watching late night television so you don't have to.
This week: MLB All-Star Game, Up All Night
My main review this week is going to be of BBC Radio Five Live's 'Up All Night', which counts as
TV as it's on freeview digital television. But first, a small rant about an insignificant detail of the
pre-game build up to Major League Baseball's all-star game.
Part of the all-star game build up featured the boxer Muhammad Ali, who suffers from
Parkinson's disease, taking to the field to hand the balls to two representatives of the Boy's clubs of
America who were throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. The American commentators spoke about
how Ali 'had not changed, in words or actions, despite his illness, and is testimony to the power of
Not changed his actions? So, he shook like that when he was world champion, did he? The power of
sport? This is the man who, when he was still young Cassius Clay, threw his Olympic Gold Medal into a
river in despair because despite being recognisable all over the world he couldn't gets served in
restaurants in his home town. The man who was stripped of a title for refusing to take a purely
promotional role in the US Army during the Vietnam War on the grounds that he had no beef with
Vietnam, while he did with the US. He famously said 'No Viet Cong never called me
This brave, courageous, skilful sportsman is riddled by Parkinson's because he took too many blows
to the head. When he should have retired, his advisors, his promoters, and most shamefully his doctors
all continued to exploit him and damage him for life by allowing this repeated torture. Muhammad
Ali/Cassisus Clay didn't embody the power of sport, he reflected it's greed. The greatest boxer ever
was spat up and chewed out in the name of profit and headlines. That is what Muhammad Ali's
story tells us about sport.
Anyway, 'Up All Night', which I intended to make the main subject of this column, is a mainstay of
Five Live's radio schedules, still running ten years after the station launched as Britain's first
24-hour news and sport radio station. The simple premise behind the nightly 1am-5am show being to
bring British insomniacs and night shift workers news from around the world. British newspapers get
reviewed, reporters from Australia, Russia, India, Africa and America file reports about all sorts
of things, and every half hour there's a news update. there are two main features of this show I love,
and they're 'My Lovely Slot' and 'Trans-American football phone in'.
'My Lovely Slot' is an idiosyncratic US TV review by LA-based British writer Cash Peters, which features on Tuesday nights/Wednesday
mornings at around 2.40. Peters tends to concentrate on the trashier end of the market- reality TV,
soaps, corny new sitcoms, TV-movies and dramas, and hwe is quite scathing about most of them, and has
a fine line in banter with Up All Night's senior host, Rhod Sharp. The mix of gossip, ridicule, and
general chat that Peters provides is always refreshing and never boring. The man should get his own
show. This week's slot ended with Peters discussing forgotten TV puppet Alf with the newsreader
who was waiting to do the 3.00 bulletin!
The Trans-American football phone-in is a pinnacle of the Sunday night/Monday morning show
normally hosted by Anita Anand. Running from 2.30 to 3.30, the premise is exceedingly simple- US
soccer TV presenter Sean Wheelock and BBC South-American football correspondent Tim Vickery
field questions about any aspect of their regions' football, or indeed footballers. The knowledge of
the duo, who don't get advance notice of questions1 and, as with Sharp and Peters, the banter and bonhomie between Anand,
Wheelock and Vickery makes for enjoyable listening.
A large part of Up All Night's appeal to those of us who are up at that time of night is the
presentation. Sharp, a political journalist who has been with the show since it's inception, hosts
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Dotun Adebayo, an independent filmmaker and presenter of
Five Live's weekly obituary show 'Brief Lives', hosts on Thursday and Friday nights, while Anand, a
qualified lawyer with the most delightful voice in radio, takes care of Saturday and Sunday nights.
Adebayo's sex phone-in and string of 'dear Dotun' filthy emails are as much a part of his shows as
Anand's football and Sharp's chats with Peters. The show also benefits from occasionally sending
Sharp to the US- he hosted World Series Baseball for the station, and covered the campaign for the
Democratic nomination to congress.
Up All Night educates, amuses, interests and relaxes the listener, and is everything a talk radio
show should be.
sent about Argentine footballer Julio Arca was once read out by Anita less than a minute after I