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Back of the Net
Tuesday evening's wash-out in Warsaw has left ITV's cuddly nincompoop on the wane, reveals Back of the Net's Paul Watson...
Adrian Chiles and his ITV punditry team are beginning to struggle to fill the 20 hours of airtime caused by the postponement of England’s World Cup 2014 qualifier with Poland.
The game was scheduled to kick off at 8pm on Tuesday evening but the pitch was deemed waterlogged after Polish officials opted not to close the roof for fear it may ‘get a little stuffy’ inside the stadium.
The postponement was dire news for Chiles and his team of Roy Keane, Lee Dixon and Gareth Southgate, who had battled gamely to fill the half-hour before the scheduled start time with wafer-thin punditry and wry witticisms.
When it became clear that the game would not be played until Wednesday afternoon, Chiles adopted a haunted expression as he introduced a hastily cobbled together feature called ‘Pole And Bear’ in which Gabriel Clarke tracked down several Polish people who claimed to have once seen bears.
The feature was dogged by Clarke’s inability to speak Polish, his interviewees’ inability to speak more than a few phrases of basic English and nobody being sure how impressive it was to have seen a bear.
Inevitably the night shift took a heavy toll in the ITV studio. An increasingly outspoken Keane became fidgety in hour six of the coverage – an analysis of Michael Palin’s 1992 documentary travel series Pole to Pole – and began to mutter increasingly audible threats against the production team who refused to let him leave, the people of Poland and Palin.
But the team seem to have weathered the storm and just minutes prior to this report being published Chiles was still gamely battling on, posing a facile question to Southgate, who gave a measured, lengthy answer while brushing his teeth.
"I knew it was a mistake to get him in the studio" - Chiles on Keane
"We have every belief that the lads will make it to 4pm," an ITV spokesman said. "That said, we have now analysed every single facet of Polish life and we’re obviously worried that Adrian might become so wry that he hurts himself or others."
The postponement has also inconvenienced travelling fans and several of the Polish players, whose next round of domestic fixtures will now begin during the second half of the rescheduled game.
Arkadiusz Piech has already booked a taxi for the 65th minute to take him from the Polish bench to the Stadion Polonii across town where he will play for Ruch Chorzow against Polonia Warsaw.
Editor's note: this isn't a serious accusation and all quotes are fictionalised. But you knew that, because you're not stupid.
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