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David Basckin... On the Couch: Bar the nose, it’s all good

You don’t need to be in Brazil and you didn’t need to be at Kings Park to be riveted – and wherever Frans Steyn lands up, you’ll be able to enjoy him, writes David Basckin

As the soccer World Cup so clearly shows, televised sport delivers the biggest audiences. You really don’t have to be in Brazil to get the stories, such as they are.  

Meanwhile, fans of the even more beautiful game had two sizzling international tests this last weekend: France/Australia and South Africa/Wales. Of course, television increasingly promotes referees to star status and Wayne Barnes who controlled the France/Australia game revealed his class.  Not only were there unambiguous decisions but all were conducted in an unconfrontational tone emphasising his clear belief that he was neither a player nor God. What’s more he spoke English to the Australians and French to the French. Peace in scrums, goodwill to all men.

Meanwhile back in Durban the Springboks performed to a whole new script. Topping the bill was the extraordinary Willie le Roux who combined personal brilliance with a clear understanding of team play.  

Ah, but what about the absent Frans Steyn, I hear you whisper?  What indeed. Greater rugby minds than mine have shaken their wise old heads at the lèse-majesté of Mr Steyn who removed himself from the Springbok team. 
Sadly this curious form of nationalism assumes that the Springboks are anything more than a corporate structure with similar forms, goals and management to any other business. What we see with Steyn’s appropriate action is the withering away of the State, a direct and healthy consequence of professionalism in sport. Steyn is a brand in his own right and is free – truly free – to ally himself with the rugger business that offers him the best deal. Believe me, so great is his television presence that I will go out of my way to watch the team that he ornaments, rather than pretend any silly “national” loyalties .

Which brings us, kinda inevitably, to a series called Last Chance Salon. This is classic late-night viewing, specially crafted for an audience of night crew, lighthouse keepers, oil riggers, serial insomniacs and the custodial staff of prisons throughout the world. This show is entirely about plastic surgery gone wrong and the cast’s heroic attempts to repair the damage. Just as a warning, or maybe a taster, is a brief disclaimer after the main titles: The Following Program Contains Scenes of Real Surgery or Injuries. 

Being an urbane and seasoned citizen of the universe this cut no ice with me, with the result that when the good doctor unpeeled a living nose and revealed red pulsing flesh, I nearly choked on my mutton quarter bunny.

What else was good? Ah yes, Dating In The Dark. This is a deeply, profoundly and unambiguously queasy BBC show in which morons of both standard genders feel each other up in the dark. They can’t see anything, but thanks to the miracle of infrared lighting, we can. This degrades the image to grainy greys with the irises of the performers reduced to coal black. 

The effect for fans of True Blood is not too different from the Maenads as demonic possession set in, way back in Series One. To assist our understanding of events, the performers chatted to the camera revealing their deepest thoughts and emotions on the topic of human relationships. It seems that what really matters is appearance. 
Even in the dark, you gotta look good. That’s all folks.

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