judging by the reaction on twitter last night, I’d say the BBC2 dramatised account of the Munich air crash went down rather better than the ‘let’s cash in quick’ Kate and Wiliam ‘movie’.
At one point, Munich, Manchester United, Bobby Charlton, Duncan Edwards and David Tennant were all trending. So it certainly had an audience. It was connecting. And in a very positive way.
I tweeted myself a few times – first to say I thought it was a brilliant idea to tell the story through the eyes of Charlton and coach Jimmy Murphy (superbly played by Jack O’Connell and David Tennant). I said I hoped Bobby Charlton liked it. I have met Sir Bobby often, and he really is as nice as he seems. I thought his character came across superbly, but I received a lot of tweets last night from people pointing out that several of the families of those portrayed, notably manager Matt Busby, were not happy with the programme. A fair few people did not like the way key figures like Bill Foulkes were written out of the script. By the end of the evening I was being told goalkeeper Harry Gregg hated the film too.
I have blogged before about this area of the dramatisation of real events. I have sat in cinemas and in front of TVs and seen myself being portrayed in situations as diverse as Diana’s death, Kosovo, Ireland, David Kelly’s death and David Blunkett’s private life. ‘Did that bit really happen?’ is a question that gets asked many times. The answer is usually No. Or, perhaps more accurately, No but … The but revealing grains of truth in there somewhere.
It is unlikely that any of the conversations seen last night actually took place exactly as recorded. I have no doubt at all there would have been factual errors galore which will have annoyed real experts, not to mention survivors and relatives of those who perished.
But there are other questions worth asking. Was it good TV? Did it help inform and educate? Was it a broadly sympathetic portrayal of an important event? Did it add to the legend of one of the biggest sporting brands on the planet? Did it make people feel even more warmly towards one of our most popular living legends? I think e answer to all those questions is Yes.
— Off to Burnley today. We are still in with a chance of the play-offs, but also I wanted to be there for the pre-match celebration of Graham Alexander reaching his 1000th professional game. Fitting too that Steve Cotterill, who was the manager who signed Grezza for Burnley, should be there today in charge of Portsmouth, our opponents.
On the subject of Bobby Charlton, I once had a terrific evening sitting with him at a fundraiser for Burnley. Alex Ferguson was due to be after dinner speaker but was taken ill. Bobby stood in literally at the last minute and was absolutely terrific. He also said he had a soft spot for Burnley, so I am taking that as an extra piece of support for today’s must win match.