Week 257: bonus minutes

Week 256: Caesar salad days

Week 255

Did Football Focus’s Garth Crooks really call The Last Dinner Party ‘fine young women making really exciting pop music’?

The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis writes that the baroque indie pop band The Last Dinner Party

were lavished with praise by everyone from Florence Welch to Garth Crooks (the latter feeling impelled to interrupt an episode of Football Focus to describe them as “fine young women making really exciting pop music”)

Football Focus is a long-running Saturday lunchtime BBC programme that focuses on football, and Garth Crooks is an ex-footballer now better known as a pundit.

Garth has worked for the BBC since 1982 as a match analyst and also as an interviewer, noted for his wordy and rambling questions, which have been much parodied. Seen frequently on BBC’s Saturday afternoon football programme “Final Score” and he has been comically lampooned for his rambling questions to football players and managers.

But did GC really praise TLDP on FF? This sentence was added to The Last Dinner Party’s Wikipedia article a few months earlier, in November 2023:

After their music was played on an episode of the BBC's Football Focus, Garth Crooks cited the band as potential future stars, stating in his weekly Team of the Week column that "these fine young women are making really exciting pop music. Lovely Stuff".

and thereafter several people tweeted screenshots of it going ha ha at the idea of Crooksy as tastemaker. But the citation given, an article from Rolling Stone, doesn’t even mention Crooks or Football Focus at all.

The Wikipedia user responsible has a dubious track record, e.g. adding this paragraph to the Video Killed the Radio Star article:

In February 2002, while on international duty with England, David Beckham got into an argument with journalist Rob Shepherd, during a press conference, after Shepherd made a joke about David and Victoria Beckham’s habit of finishing second (David finishing second in the recent FIFA World Player of the Year vote, and Victoria’s inability to have a number 1 hit). Beckham sarcastically asked Shepherd “what do you know about music? How many people in your family have ever had a number one?”. Shepherd replied “one. My sister was in The Buggles”. His sister was Linda Jardim-Allen, who sang vocals on the number one hit.

Actually, that one’s completely true, and a further fun fact is that Rob Shepherd was later gaoled for biting a man in a wine bar in Beckenham. And I know that the user in question is an unregistered guest idenfitied only by their IP address, so they could be several people. But apart from that, they do seem to like making up lies about Garth Crooks in particular, e.g. that the former rugby union player Richard Hill is his daughter’s godfather, and that he once claimed to have performed the finger clicks in Queen’s It’s a Kind of Magic. (The song is actually called A Kind of Magic, and the clicks were performed by Chris Rea.)

To be really sure, we’d have to watch every episode of Football Focus – at least all those between April 2023, when The Last Dinner Party released their their first single, and November 2023. Fortunately, an under-celebrated feature of the BBC programmes website is the “Music played” section listing every song played in an episode, with timestamps.

So we should be able to narrow it down to episodes where The Last Dinner Party are listed there and Garth Crooks is named in the credits. But unfortunately, maybe due to budget cuts, there are no playlists for episodes of Football Focus broadcast after February 2023. I can’t even tell if Crooksy appeared on Football Focus during the relevant period – some episodes have no credits, and he’s not credited in any that have them.

Actually, years ago, I started (using get_iplayer) bulk-downloading the subtitles of every BBC programme, and indexing them in Elasticsearch and even making a tool that graphed mentions of [search term] over time. But I stopped, because breaking the law is illegal, and I didn’t know that one day I’d want to know if a band were ever mentioned on Football Focus. And now it’s too late, because episodes of Football Focus don’t stay on the iPlayer for very long.

Anyway. I don’t like to be a spoilsport, but I sadly suspect that Petridis has been the gullible victim of a hoax, and now his article in a once-respected newspaper can be cited in the original Wikipedia article – citogenesis.

(I had a listen to some of The Last Dinner Party’s music, cos it sounds like the sort of thing I like, and I didn’t like it very much.)

Week 254: phlebotomist’s nightmare

Week 253

Week 252

Week 251: not a guillemot

Week 250: NYE

Week 249