Darts, darts, darts, darts, darts, on the television

Sunday 13 January 2008

I’m beginning to get a sense of the shape of the year in London. The year truly begins with the concurrence of the composer weekend at the Barbican and the world darts championship on the telly. For various reasons I’m giving the Barbican a miss this year, but I still look in on the darts now and then.
Two years ago I wrote:
… it dawned on me that I was watching one of the great endangered species of popular culture, a type of television that the next generation of children will never know: the professionally-produced, relatively major television event that is completely unphotogenic. I cannot imagine that in ten years’ time a large, Western television network will be making any shows where fat, balding men in polo shirts and sovereign rings are watched by a clubhouse full of attentive smokers.

In fact it lasted only one more year; the smoking ban introduced last summer took care of that. Now instead of anxious women huddled next to their kids with a fag in one hand and a pint in the other, you see anxious women chewing furiously and dashing in and out of the hall between legs.

The fat blokes with the gold bracelets and prison tatts are still on camera offering their insights into the game while standing in the middle of what is obviously a bar; but if the reports that the game’s popularity has never been higher are true, then the homogenising influence of corporate money cannot be far from banishing them and their world.
Speaking of the photogenic new face of darts, I would like to apologise on behalf of my country for the hairstyle of this year’s Australian finalist, Simon Whitlock. He can’t help it, he’s from Queensland.