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6th November 2004
Wales on Saturday

At the best of times, I'm not convinvced about the need for Wales on Saturday to appear on our screens, but 6th November was really taking the mickey. Surely it wouldn't be a bad idea to check what coverage you'll be interrupting, and occasionally be willing to give WoS a miss, or have it start a bit later. (For those not fortunate enough to live in Wales, at about 4:30pm on a Saturday BBC 1 Wales leaves Grandstand coverage and switches to a program called 'Wales on Saturday' - kind of like 'final score', but from a Welsh perspective.)

The reason this particular occasion seemed somewhat ridiculous to me is fairly straightforward - Grandstand has been showing Wales' game against South Africa (and a good game it was too), and both before the match and during half-time we've had expert opinion on Wales - something we don't get that much of. But, when the full-time whistle goes, whilst the rest of the UK enjoys a few replays of incidents from the game and comments on them from Jonathan Davies, most of us in Wales get to enjoy: no replays from the rugby, Jason Mohammad making bizarre comments (my favourite this time was: "another goal at Mill Moor, but don't worry Cardiff fans - it's gone to Rotherham"), various errors (at one point Rotherham were apparently beating Cardiff 10-2), a videprinter which can only show three scores at a time as opposed to the normal one which shows six, and of course the wonderful spectacle which is Barry Horne seemingly concentrating so hard on stringing an accurate sentence together that he forgets to make sure he's saying something interesting (not to mention the fact that he's usually at a game which the BBC already has a reporter at anyway).

It's not that I think WoS is of no use at all - I'm glad to get more in-depth coverage of the Welsh football clubs and highlights from the Celtic league - it's just that it seems to be so inferior to the usual 'final score' program. Mistakes are pretty commonplace, and the little caption box at the bottom of the screen often contains out of date information which any casual viewer could easily update with a quick glance at ceefax. And Jason is always waiting for a chance to get in his favourite phrase "...and I can (now) tell you that...", which is usually followed by a piece of information which actually popped up on our TV set (or at least on ceefax) a couple of minutes earlier, so perhaps we could have done with being able to "tell Jason that..." when it actually happened.

But on this particular occasion, we left the Grandstand rugby coverage to hear about the football - which still had about 20 minutes left, and then when the full-time results were coming in (and as we all know, it's the score at the final whistle which matters, not each goal as it goes in, and in any case you can use the new interactive digital service, or the web, or ceefax, to get information on goals 'as they go in'), we then ignored the football and decided that it was a good time to have a chat with Ieuan Evans at the Millennium Stadium (and so not cover the football results as they came in), even though he could use no actual match action in his comments as Davies and Guscot on Grandstand would've been able to do (and no doubt did). Wouldn't we have been better off to talk about the rugby (preferably using Grandstand - no point wasting licence payers' money) straight after the game, and then start Wales on Saturday a bit later - when the football results are starting to come in? Generally in fact, I'm sure we could still give adequate coverage of each football league Welsh club, the Welsh league and other Welsh sporting news with just a brief 15 minute program a little later on (maybe between 5 and 6 'o' clock) which would be nowhere near as expensive to make as a live program with live (if a little slow sometimes) updates. Such a program would also not require such a high standard of the presenter, so we presumably wouldn't have to put up with so many errors.

I'm not really sure what my point is after writing all that - maybe that BBC Wales should give a bit more thought to when WoS is on, and whether they could use more of the national BBC coverage, which tends to be of a higher quality (as the best presenters/reporters/researchers etc tend to get the biggest jobs). I do enjoy hearing about Cardiff City, and about the Celtic League, but I just don't feel I can trust this program to always give me correct and useful information - sometimes I'm almost tempted to put ceefax on and use that!

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