Jonathan Green: the poor man’s Jeremy Clarkson
Unless I missed it, without fanfare or ceremony one of the speedway broadcasting greats – Jonathan Green – has slunk away from our screens without the brilliance of his decade of live television work being truly appreciated and acknowledged. Surely this is a crime! With a whimper rather than a bang – after the last hurrah of the Eastbourne versus Poole televised meeting – Greeny has left our screens and has (rather unbelievably) apparently being headhunted and paid well to stir new audiences to catatonia with his words of wisdom upon F1 racing.
Jonathan’s on-air, off-the-cuff performance has consistently been one of the key reasons to tune into the Sky speedway broadcasts. Let’s face it, there have been some dire processional meetings only enlivened by the entertainment provided Jonathan’s relentless forced bonhomie and tactical faux naiveté. Broadcasts really won’t be the same without his insightful questioning, never mind the wonderful on screen chemistry of his relationship with Kelvin. We also forget at our peril his almost post-modern but nonetheless innovative stream of consciousness technique (I’m struggling for a thought but I’ll try to articulate it anyway) that he invariably brought to comment, analysis and interviews. To be able to consistently spout nonsense so enthusiastically about a sport you have no affinity or interest in – on live television – is a dark art that few master so brilliantly effortlessly as the inimitable Jonathan Green.
In my forthcoming book Concrete for Breakfast (published June 2008), Jonathan has a starring role and pride of place in many of the Skyballs snippets at the head of each chapter. However, here’s a brief selection from the man some (well, me) have christened speedway’s Forrest Gump and others have dubbed (probably for their shared girth, over confidence and will-to-fatuousness) THE POOR MAN’S JEREMY CLARKSON!
“What a brave interviewer our Soph is. Ulamek says he can’t speak English and she interviews him anyway”
(To Lee Richardson) “You tell us exactly what you were thinking in the fantastic overtaking of Loram when you were second”
(Lee) “Dunno, nothing! I probably wasn’t thinking which is why I did it”
“We’re just about to see the incident, why don’t you talk us through it”
(to practically every rider every televised meeting)
“Both teams really want to win here tonight”
“You know it never ceases to amaze me how tough speedway riders are”
“You know it’s really strange, it just keeps getting more exciting!”
“This is a really vital meeting for both sides”
“We’ll have more talk about the track in a moment”
Jonathan “I just wondered – have you ever done a wheelie like that?”
Kelvin “No, I haven’t”
“The only league team to keep the same seven – that’s an interesting statistic!”
“I remember they dedicated the win to him – they said ‘I wish you were here blah blah blah’”
“That’s what I like about him – he wears his arm on his sleeve and tells you how it is!”