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Sunday, 09 July 2006

3376: Italy: Bring back the Gazetta!

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by : Sam Cullen

As Italy prepare to take to the field tonight in the World Cup final, it makes me all dewy eyed and nostaglia for a piece of classic football TV action.

Channel 4’s Football Italia.

When it launched in the 1992, it was quickly apparent it was the classiest football show on TV.

On Saturday mornings at 10am, you had the gazetta(magazine) show, presented with consummate ease by James Richardson. The classy continental feel was enhanced by the location filming, which frequently featured Mr Richardson reviewing the weeks football news while enjoying an ice cream or cappuccino in a plush Italian square.

Meanwhile, the late Kenneth “they think it’s all over” Wolstenhome provided the knowledgeable voice overs when highlights of the games from the previous week were shown.

The live game would then follow on Sunday. Predominately commentated by the excellent Peter Brackley, who would still find flair and skill to rave about, in a very controlled manner, despite the common perception of the defence minded angle of Italian football.

In an age where terrestrial television was starved of live football( BBC even lost the rights to broadcast the World Cup qualifiers for a spell) Football Italia was a breathe of fresh air, an image further enhanced by the impressive production values and direction of the gazetta.

I mean, who will ever forget the theme tune?

Yet suddenly, there was Thunder in Paradise. After 10 years of ice cream, Richardson, Brackley and Chievo were no more, vanishing from the face of Channel 4.

The concept of the show has since been picked up by two digital channels, the Carlton Palmer esque Eurosport and the sometimes sleazy Bravo TV. While it was nice to see Richardson retained, the show just didn’t seem right in these lesser settings with a far smaller audience.

As pointed out previously, Italian football is constantly derided for the defensive minded tactics. Despite this, should Italy claim then trophy tonight, then I for one will be clamouring for a return of Football Italia.

There hasn’t been anything quite like it since.

Sam Cullen
8 July 2006

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