A League Of Their Own: Television Review.
A League Of Their Own is back on Sky one for its fifth season and already there has been an excess of excitement in the studio. The popular irreverent sports quiz show has so far welcomed football stars Steven Gerrard and Peter Crouch to join the regular trio of ex-footballer and now Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp, comedian John Bishop and former England cricketer Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff as well as the shows host James Cordon, for a glut of thrills, spills and amusement.
In the opening episode of the series, Liverpool Captain Steven Gerrard faced the ‘Stevie-G Force’ challenge in which he had to fire a ball at a target with as much power as possible, and then it was Jamie Redknapp’s turn to fire the ball, only this time towards the backside of comedian Jack Whitehall as part of his ‘initiation’ into the role of the new blue team member as he replaces Georgie Thompson who will be fulfilling her new role as Sky Sports’ Formula One coverage.
In the second episode, Peter Crouch demonstrated why he is one of the rare footballers with personality as he performed the renowned robot dance for a delighted studio audience and even went one step further, grabbing the microphone to sing The Jackson Five hit, Blame it on the Boogie, complete with dance moves and a modulation of notes Simon Cowell would be proud of. Louise Hazel, a gold medal athlete winner also stopped by to join the blue team and was the object of typically humorous flirtation, something that is only really found on such cheeky, tongue-in-cheek shows as this one.
Whilst the show is predominantly a laid back, alternative look at sport, there are moments of genuine sporting feats achieved; in episode one Redknapp, Bishop and Flintoff all bravely parachuted out of a plane whilst in episode 2 Cordon, Bishop and guest Jimmy Carr had a go at formula one themselves. Whilst these sorts of pre-recorded challenges are often pervaded with the same banter that dominates the studio, they do have the odd moment of nervous tension, particularly in the case of Jimmy Carr who was told if it was not a one off special training in driving formula one cars for the show, he would have been sent home already for reckless driving. In this respect, the show mirrors the adrenalin fuelled moments of real sport.
A League Of Their Own is not for everyone; if you are looking for a serious sporting quiz show stick with A Question of Sport. There have been arguments that Cordon is smug, self righteous and hogs the limelight, and admittedly I was never a big James Cordon fan, however as a host of this sort of show where anything and everything goes, he is funny, allows his guests to speak and often comes out with witty one liners that have the audience in fits of laughter. It is not pot luck that this quiz show is already into its fifth season; an unusual mix of ex sportsmen, comedians and presenters, big name guest stars and a 6 foot 7 footballer feeding a Milky Bar yoghurt to Jack Whitehall, what more could you ask for?
A League Of Their Own airs on Friday nights at 9 pm on Sky One