Playing games

My radio review in The Times… Football chat from Lineker and Baker, parenting debates on the World Service and a look at how boys are faring in the age of #MeToo:

Too many games, too much hype. Has anyone else fallen out of love with football since the World Cup? I usually start paying full attention to the Premier League around November. I always need a proper break now that one season seems to merge into the next. Yet I haven’t been able to get my appetite back. I still play five-a-side — our team often has a combined age of nearly 300 — yet I’ve barely watched 20 minutes of Match of the Day since August, and even the 606 phone-in on BBC Radio 5 Live has lost its allure.

Maybe Gary Lineker and Danny Baker can get my mojo going. Their podcast, freewheeling and irreverent, taps into the same audience carved out by Peter Crouch’s insider confessions. There isn’t quite so much laddish giggling, but you can be sure that Baker — a Millwall diehard and the best presenter that 606 has had — will always come up with his share of eccentric trivia. Did you know, for instance, that the logo for Chupa Chups, the favourite sweet of a Liverpool star of yesteryear, was designed by Salvador Dalí?

If you are allergic to Baker’s garrulous, scatter-gun approach, the show might be hard work. Even Lineker seems bemused at times. Sometimes the duo try too hard to be quirky. But at its best the conversation has the atmosphere of two off-duty supporters chatting away over a packet of crisps (Walkers, naturally) in the corner of a pub. Adrian Chiles does this kind of thing effortlessly on his Friday morning BBC Radio 5 Live show. Like Baker, of course, he is besotted with a team outside the Premier League’s magic circle, a reminder that there is more to football than agents and fancy cars.

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Chief theatre critic for The Times. Twitter: CliveDavisUK Facebook: Instagram: clivephotos
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