In Depth

Andy Murray wins broken trophy as SPOTY 'defies parody'

The winner was unanimous but the 'mawkish' BBC end-of-year spectacular failed to win over all the critics

Andy Murray romped to his third Sports Personality of the Year award on Sunday, but was presented with a replica of the trophy held together with sticky tape in a ceremony that frequently "defied parody".

BBC viewers were quick to spot that the award handed to Murray by boxer Lennox Lewis was not in pristine condition, and Martha Kelner of the Daily Mail reported that Murray revealed he was told "if I won to hold it close to my body so it didn't fall over on camera".

Murray said the trophy was "kind of stuck down with tape" after it was damaged en route to Miami, where he is at a training camp. And it was clear that the camera atop the award was not securely attached to its tripod.

The wonky trophy was not the only issue with this year's show. Some viewers objected to presenter Gary Lineker, who was fronting the show for the 16th year in a row but has branched out from sport into the shark-infested world of politics in recent months.

According to the Daily Express, people turned off Sunday night's show because they had been "offended by his comments" about Brexit voters when he hosted the political news quiz Have I Got News for You on Friday.

Others were put off by the tone of the event. "The cheerleading grated at times," said Oliver Brown of the Daily Telegraph. "It was difficult to take this seriously as a celebration of sporting endeavour when the BBC found places in the arena for the winners of Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Bake-Off but not for Pete Cowen, who coached two of this year’s four major champions in golf.

"A few moments defied parody, not least the sequence in which 12,000 people were prevailed upon to perform the 'Viking Thunderclap' that became a cult classic courtesy of Iceland's heroics at the European Championships. The fact that Iceland also inflicted the greatest humiliation in the annals of English football was conveniently omitted."

However, SPOTY is an event where "excessive mawkishness is not only expected but tolerated", said Barry Glendenning of The Guardian. Although he took issue with the fact that Tour de France winner Chris Froome was not included on the shortlist of candidates for the award.

Others agreed with him, including Giles Clark, TV critic of The Times, who said that Froome "must be wondering what he has to do to feature properly in the BBC's Christmas story".

However, he was won over in the end. "This was a slick SPOTY show, and warmer than previous episodes in the Enormodome era, which have tended to lose intimacy in the space and the echoes," he says.

James Corrigan of the Daily Telegraph was less impressed.

"Let's face it, this is not a serious review of the British sporting year as it first set out to be," he said. "It is a show; and an unashamed show at that. That much was evident from the moment the organisers had the dumbfounded cheek to persuade Usain Bolt, one of the few genuine sporting heroes of our age, to announce the presenters on to stage."

He also contrasted the BBC's decreasing sports output with its grandiose attitude towards SPOTY. "Tell me, does anybody out there really believe that the BBC would feature the Olympics so heavily if Sky held the rights?" he asked.

For the BBC "this is its proud night out in a glitzy outfit, drinking the finest with the best, while its day-to-day sports department is condemned to live in rags, survive off scraps".

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