Grandstand is the greatest TV theme tune of all time (don’t @ me). So the fact that Michael Brunström has it as the pre-show warm-up music to this hour of sports-themed madcappery is only ever going to put us right on his side. A man who looks like he’d be lapped in the 400 metres + personalised 80s tracksuit and headband + memories of Saturday afternoons with Des Lynam = big win.
There’s a feelgood ‘we’re all winners, really’ message in World of Sports, but by crikey, it goes a circuitous route to it. If this show were the 3000m steeplechase, it would involve leaving the stadium, spending an hour carp fishing, walking up and down the high street in a bin-liner, coming back to the stadium, having a snooze atop one of the hurdles, filing a tax return and then crawling backwards over the line. Not that this is at all a bad thing.
Brunström is full of non-sequiturs. His opening speech, Olympic flag and all, is rousing and scene-setting, but he’s soon off into a parallel universe of his own. He works his way through a series of ‘sports’, sometimes versus us, sometimes versus the workings of his own mind, all the while keeping a vague record of wins and losses on a chalkboard. Some have some basis in reality (multi-player paper/rock/scissors), some are plucked out of the ether (anyone for a game of octopus?), some are radical re-workings of actual Olympic events (a long distance race run by bottles of fabric conditioner with Tom Selleck‘s face stuck on the front). They operate with varying levels of success – the Selleck race is great fun, octopus more esoteric – but Brunström’s lovable eccentricity manages to keep us on board for the duration.
The only time it begins to wear a little thin is as it closes in on the finish line. As with the actual Olympics, the 100m is the biggie and Brunström sets off on a metre by metre deconstruction of it. Surely he’s not going to keep this going for 100m of anti-comedy? Well, let’s just say he doesn’t break any world records reaching the otherwise fitting finale.
Life is a race. It’s not the winning, it’s the taking part. And lots of other clichés that Brunström doesn’t spell out explicitly but are somehow understood through the madness. Brunström’s may be more Eddie the Eagle than Michael Phelps but which one to do we hold dearer?