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Tuffers' Duffers

The pieces to camera are predictable and cringeworthy but the real problem is the clips themselves which, after all, is what forms the raison d'etre of the product

Martin Williamson

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Clearing out old rubbish from the loft the other day, I came across a box of pre-recorded videos (remember them?). Among them were a bunch of dubious football-related tapes containing 'hilarious' mistakes and 'side-splitting' strange incidents fronted by players/managers/celebrities of the moment, products with cash-in-quick written all over them. Danny Baker's Own Goals and Gaffes and Big Ron Bites Back sat at the top of a rotten pile. It made me wonder why cricket hadn't suffered in the same way. The following week Tuffer's Duffers arrived and I realised that, at least in the eyes of the people who make such things, last autumn cricket was briefly the new football.

Admittedly, there have been a few cricket-related attempts to milk this seemingly lucrative market - Rory Bremner and Geoff Boycott spring to mind as two who have fronted such products - but they were not actually that bad. They certainly never stooped as low as this one.

Imagine the worst kind of ITV Saturday night show of gaffes. Not the slightly classy Dennis Norden It'll Be All Right On The Night kind. The ones that Jeremy Beadle used to front before they replaced him with appalling and ephemeral soap stars. And ones where you have seen most of the clips before. And where the producers are so short of material that they pad it out with clips that aren't funny. And where the links between clips are almost all universally excruciating. Welcome to Tuffer's Duffers.

When Phil Tufnell won I'm A Celebrity in 2003 he was seen by cricket's marketing men as the way to attract a young audience to the game. For a time he was everywhere. But last summer the Ashes proved that cricket could attract an audience all by itself, and Tufnell was left looking rather old hat.

What this DVD shows is that Tufnell is from the Frank Bruno school of drama (one character, in Tufnell's case the roguish cheeky chappie) but in fairness the lines he is given are pretty appalling and sometimes in bad taste as well. The pieces to camera are predictable - Tufnell misfields, Tufnell bats badly - and cringeworthy but the real problem is the clips themselves which, after all, is what forms the raison d'etre of the product. They are tired, unimaginative and badly researched. The impression is that this was thrown together in a hurry as a cash-in for the Christmas market.

The worry is that this will sell well - the ideal present for someone's cricket-mad nephew - and that could mean that the producers are tempted to dredge up More Tuffers' Duffers. However, one viewing and that same cricket-mad nephew is likely to be offloading this on ebay. If only that had existed when I was given those football videos ...



Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
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