Love Actually

Fourteen winters ago I spent three weeks in Durban doing a show curated and hosted by global comedy sensation Russell Peters called “India’s Kings of Comedy”. I was the token gay one trying to make a connection with an audience more used to alpha male posturing. It was a fascinating three weeks in that I experienced hippos and crocodiles in the wild, racially segregated nightlife, and the Richard Curtis rom com Love Actually.

I don’t usually hate a visit to the cinema, because I don’t take many chances. I hated Love Actually. Yes it was beautifully made, had a great soundtrack, and a cast to die for. The quiet underplayed majesty of Emma Thompson is still a thing of wonder. But in my opinion the overambition of Curtis, his desire to be Altman, floundered badly.

At the 2004 Edinburgh Fringe, my first solo show was devoted to explaining what I disliked about the film. Amazingly, despite an overheated room in the glamorous 2245 time slot, nobody came. The Stage called me “smug”, getting me prepared for the first six years of being a Chaser on Twitter. The Scotsman went harsher with “irritating”. One thing was for sure, I lost the battle.

Thirteen years later, it is clear that I lost the war. Love Actually has inveigled its way into the affections of mainstream Britain where it is considered “feelgood”. Certainly when Laura Linney loses her man because of the interruptions of her brother with mental health issues, I have rarely felt more full of Christmas cheer. People I know, adore and respect love this film and cannot fathom the occasional opprobrium. I will try today to explain, because I am procrastinating on Christmas shopping. I am aware that someone, somewhere has done the definitive sassy take. This is my milder version.

 

  1. For the opening monologue to invoke the memory of the victims of 9/11 was a risk. It puts a lot of pressure on the rest of the film be be a fitting tribute, rather than a film where Kris Marshall has an orgy with the first cartoonishly hot women he meets in US. It suggests an awareness of a post terrorism world that is curiously absent when Liam Neeson’s son is sprinting past those jobsworth curmudgeons, airport security. Still, he’s white so clearly he can do what he likes.

2.  Post Notting Hill, Curtis finds black actors. None of their roles have any bearing on the plot whatsoever. Most damningly he casts Chiwetel Ejiofor as the husband of Keira Knightley and reduces one of the greatest actors of his generation to irrelevance.

3.  The plotting falls apart. At one point porn doubles Freeman and Page kiss each other on Christmas Eve, wish each other a Merry Christmas. Then later they are sat together at the school concert on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve when schoolkids are at home with their family. My favourite is Neeson telling a taxi driver “Heathrow Airport please, I know a short cut”. When they get to Heathrow the kid’s potential paramour is about to board the plane. Great short cut.

4. The fat jibes at the expense of beautiful, healthy Martine McCutcheon are appalling. The ones at the expense of Colin Firth’s potential Portugese sister-in-law are unforgivably crass. “Shut up miss dunkin donut 2003”   Feelgood. Merry Christmas.

5. The film is meant to be a paean to love. Kriss Marshall has an orgy, Alan Rickman plans an affair with the first younger hotter colleague he meets, a kid stops mourning his Mum within weeks because he fancies a schoolmate he has never spoken to. Colin Firth’s missus cheats on  him with his brother, he reacts by proposing to a woman he knows nothing about.

6. Egg/Rick Grimes. He hires a choir to interrupt his best mate’s wedding, he videos Keira Knightley obsessively. He feels the need to tell her the depth of his feelings. Somehow this behaviour is normalised.

The film is meant to be a multilayered look at love, and yet is driven almost entirely by the sexual desires of white heterosexual men. It is meant to be Christmassy and yet contains the biggest Christmas lie of all.

Image result for love actually at christmas you tell the truth

In one fell swoop this card demolishes any idea that the film has any understanding about Christmas. At Christmas, lies are the glue to keep families together.

 

In the 14 years since this film, I have mellowed a little on account of the fact the film’s ambition and cast are to be applauded. My anger is not with the film but with the intelligent friends I have who can’t seem to see that the film is a cruel, superficial, misogynist mess with very little to say about love, and even less about Christmas. I cheerfully accept however, that I lost the war.

Talking to the Paxman about poetry

December 1st 2007. Ten years ago today.

When the esteemed comedian Simon Evans rang me up one afternoon to explain that comedy impresario Peter Grahame wanted to put a comedians team together for  a series called University Challenge the Professionals, he explained that my name had come up, with the explanation “We need a scientist”.

What I didn’t say was “Don’t be silly. Family pressure saw me stumble into a medical career with no real understanding of, or enthusiasm for science”

What I didn’t say was “Oh my f**king lord. I have been obsessed with quizzing all my life, represented my school, my medical school, and have a longstanding and mostly successful addiction to pub quiz machines. This would be a dream. Do not under any circumstances take this dream away from me. I really, really need this.”

I think I said something like “Yeah I will give it a go”.

I was pretty sure that Pete, Simon, Natalie Haynes and myself had stormed the audition. I was sorry that Nick Revell and Stewart Lee couldn’t make the audition, and that Dan Antopolski had made the audition but not the final cut. Well more delighted than sorry, to be fair.

All that was left was to do our thing for the comedy community and defeat a team from the Ministry of Justice. Looking back, I don’t know why we were utterly confident that we would win. We weren’t to know that one of their players Rob Linham was one of the most significant figures in the history of academic buzzer quizzing. Or that another one of their players, Andrew Frazer was a veteran of the upper echelons of the Quiz League of London, whose knowledge of history was reputed to make Kevin Ashman look like Amir Khan.

We started well. Personal dreams seemed intact. Then slowly, and then remorselessly we got taken apart by the speed and brilliance of a remarkably knowledgable quartet, who would go on to win the series by marmalising all opposition. Watching back, the failure to identify the Graf Spee, or Kaliningrad stand out as poor misses.

It hurt like hell.

Then at the end Paxman said “Sporting enough to take part, anyway”

Which I heard as “Thank you for agreeing to be such amiable cannon fodder. Now piss off and let the civil servants do their thing.”

As usual I found solace in lager, as many of the teams convened in the hotel bar in the evening. I got chatting to the captain of The Lutenists, and the conversation moved on to our heavy defeat. I was asked the score, and replied “215-100”  He looked genuinely astonished.

“100? That’s actually a good score for a team of comedians”

That is how it all started. Being patronised by a lutenist. The shame. I looked at him. Then I looked around the bar. And all I could see in my head,  were white, middle aged, supremely well educated, badly dressed men.

And I made a vow that  I would bloody well join their gang. That one day I would be as good as them at quizzing, and as badly dressed as them as well.

I had no idea just how accurately I would fulfil my vows. Today I’d like to thank the lutenist who, ten years ago today, utterly changed my life. I owe you a pint.

 

Tour dates

So that is Edinburgh done for 2017. I have learnt that I am old now, and that I don’t always see getting drunk as a cure for everything anymore. I learnt that thanks to the symbiotic relationship between PR and an extremely complacent and lazy press, the Fringe will never remotely approach being a true meritocrcacy, but nonetheless great comics do succeed. Congrats to all the performers.

So it is now time to take this show on the road. I’m bloody proud of it, and I am looking forward to the travel. This show was developed around the UK and that is where it shall be seen. Many more dates will be added in the new year but for this autumn here we go……..

Saturday October 7th.

WINCHESTER – Discovery Arts Centre

https://www.hants.gov.uk/shop/product.php?productid=50030&cat=490&page=1

 

Friday October 13th 

SOUTHPORT – Southport Comedy Festival, at the Bold Hotel

https://www.skiddle.com/whats-on/Southport/The-Bold-Hotel/Paul-Sinha-Shout-Out-to-My-Ex/12971809/

 

Friday October 20th

NEWCASTLE-UPON- TYNE – Stand Comedy Club

http://www.thestand.co.uk/show/29076/paul_sinha_shout_out_to_my_ex

 

Sunday October 22nd

WETHERBY   – Wetherby Festival *double bill with Mitch Benn

https://wetherbyfestival.co.uk/2017-festival-programme/#1503667862812-5c575699-b841

 

Thursday November 2nd

LIVERPOOL – Hot Water Comedy Club

https://www.hotwatercomedy.co.uk/event/478/#event

 

Friday November 3rd

COLWYN BAY – Theatre Colwyn

http://www.visitllandudno.org.uk/events/paul-sinha-shout-out-to-my-ex-at-theatr-colwyn-p393121

 

Thursday November 23rd

CORSHAM – Pound Arts Centre

http://www.poundarts.org.uk/pound/EventDetails.aspx?artid=9344

 

Thursday November 30th

BROMSGROVE – Artrix Arts Centre

http://www.artrix.co.uk/whats-on/comedy/paul-sinha-shout-out-to-my-ex

The Last Push.

I have been very lucky.  It is hard to moan when numbers have been good and reveiwers have been kind. I do wonder sometimes where my comedy career might be floundering without the veneer of minor celebrity, but so be it.

A summary thus far can be found here….https://www.comedy.co.uk/fringe/2017/paul_sinha/

 

Whilst crossing every finger and touching all available wooden structures, my sanity, voice and health are all intact. I am damn proud of the show, even if on at least three occasions the audience seemed to majorly disagree. Such is the nature of the fringe. By far the most important audience member liked it though. My ex.

The Stand Comedy Club have been amazing. Across the rest of the Fringe are many great shows in terrible, illness-inducing venues* The uber professional staff at the Stand have ensured that my show starts at 1655 on the dot every day, and I never have even the slightest complaint. Various factors have served to geographically isolate the venues from the main hub of the Fringe, and the usual names who delude themselves into calling themselves comedy journalists,  have shamefully never ventured anywhere near, but the Stand remains a defiant network of excellent venues full of excellent people. I can’t see myself ever doing a show anywhere else.

*Monkey Barrel and the Tron are superb spaces.

As for other shows, well they have all been brilliant in their own ways. Hannah Gadsby, Glenn Wool, Matt Ewins have been rightly earning accolades, but it has been inspiring to watch so many acts of every level of status and skill busting a gut to bring their passion pieces to a wider audience. Themes that have recurred include mental illness, trauma, comedians whinging about comedians talking about mental illness and trauma, sexual experimentation, LGBT abbreviations, gay marriage, Trump, Brexit and especially lefty disillusionment with lefties. Despite this bleak sounding list, there is enough joyful silliness about as well. It is a bewilderingly massive and varied smorgasbord and any attempt to make crass and lazy generalisations would be crass and lazy.

Edinburgh seems to be struggling  though. Not the Festival, the city. As the festival expands exponentially, the strain on the city is palpable. It is a city of amazing sights and great bars and restaurants. But the time taken to get from A to B is getting longer, and on a Saturday night there is barely room to move in the Old Town. Meanwhile the Ibis Hotel on Nicholson Street continues to cheerfully advertise rooms for £250 and upwards.

But I am content. Proud that I have given it my best shot and that I have a new show to tour. The show is definitively not for the prurient, nor for those whose only interest in me is as a Chaser. I can also say without any doubt that I have no idea where this show would be without the help of friends, family, supportive promoters and especially my agent, and my boyfriend. And of course, lovely audiences.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/paul-sinha-shout-out-to-my-ex

 

Fringe begins.

It is here. At 1655 today, I take to the stage at the Stand Comedy Club for the first Fringe outing of Shout out to my Ex, my eighth full length Edinburgh show. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Little Mix, and everything to do with the fact that I still love Edinburgh, enough to only ever want to do a full run, and I believe that I have an interesting, feelgood and most importantly funny story to tell.

Preview season has been tough, in the sense that in May I had one quarter of a show, and although I knew what I was trying to do with the previews, audiences aren’t necessarily expecting a lack of slickness from a minor celebrity. But it has been creatively energizing to have taken so many steps way out of my comfort zone, and I am pleased to say that the last week and a half of preview shows have been deeply satisfying.

A quick summary of how Edinburgh has been for me thus far…..

2001 Big Value on a bill with Birdman, Cochrane and Micky Flanagan. Watched the “out Out” routine 25 times.

2004 First solo show about my hatred of “Love Actually”. I hope I convinced the 17 people who turned up that month of how bad the film was.

2005 Came up for 2 days. Saw Kitson. Suddenly realised how lazy and shit much of my writing had been.

2006 Surprise nomination for the prize leading to….

2007 A whole month of being a talked about comedian.

2008 A short run including my worst ever Fringe gig, involving me offering a punter 20 quid to leave, and him being cheered by the audience when he took it. I cried behind the stage for twenty minutes afterwards. It wasn’t the Pleasance’s fault, but in my head I decided I needed a new venue.

2009-2011 Warmly reviewed shows at the Stand 3

2015 “Postcards from the Z List” , my first post-Chase fringe show, and an experience I loved, feeling that the Stand Comedy Club helped make me less of a clumsy performer.

 

Sixteen years since I first performed at the fringe, and of course everything has changed. It is a bloated behemoth, with statistically far less chance of getting noticed. But that is good news for the punters who have never had more choices. My plan is to drink less, eat more healthily, and see and recommend a massive number of shows. I am aware that none of this is likely to become reality but its good to have ambitions. I will start with some recommendations, which come with no explanation….

Sophie Willan

Hannah Gadsby

Michael Legge

Seymour Mace

Matt Ewins

Ahir Shah

 

My main recommendation is ………….don’t go and see shows just becuse the act is on the telly. Unless it’s me.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/paul-sinha-shout-out-to-my-ex

Previews.

The tawdry need for self-promotion awakens me from my six month blog slumber.I’m doing a new show at Edinburgh this year, called “Shout out to my Ex” which is attempting to be a feelgood look at acute heartbreak. I’ll be performing it at one of my alltime favourite comedy rooms, The Stand Comedy Club. Details here…..

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/paul-sinha-shout-out-to-my-ex

What this means is that I am deep into preview season. This is my eighth solo show, and it never gets any easier. There are bits that really work, bits that never get any laughs, and bits that I dont know about because I always forget to deliver the material. It may sound ludicrously self-important to claim that it should be fascinating watching an established comedian performing way out of his/her comfort zone, but I believe it to be true. Please don’t expect it to be a finished product yet, and please dont expect it to be bland, clean and peppered with jokes about white suits.

I thought I only had twelve previews left. I have fifteen, and here they are.

Monday 3rd July

Good Ship Comedy

289 Kilburn High Road

https://www.thegoodship.co.uk/comedy

 

Tuesday 4th July

Red Imp Comedy

Walthamstow

http://www.yeolderoseandcrowntheatrepub.co.uk/index.php/events/red-imp-edinburgh-previews-paul-sinha-bethany-black/

 

Thursday 6th July

The Courtyard

Wickersley, South Yorks

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/comedy-night-with-paul-sinha-tickets-34571677819?aff=eac2

 

Friday 7th July

Chorlton Irish Club, Manchester

 

Saturday 8th July

Darwen Library Theatre, Darwen Lancs

https://darwenlibrarytheatre.com/whats-on/paul-sinha-tom-wrigglesworth-preview/

 

Sunday 9th July

Off the Rails Comedy Club, Hebden Bridge

SOLD OUT

 

Friday 14th July

Comedy Cellar, Bracknell

http://www.southhillpark.org.uk/events/edinburgh-previews/?ri=1

 

Saturday 15th July

Northampton Playhouse

https://www.ents24.com/northampton-events/playhouse-theatre/paul-sinha/5027634

 

Thursday 20th July

Last Laugh Comedy

Lescar, Sheffield

http://www.wegottickets.com/sheffieldcomedy

 

Friday 21st July

Rotherham Civic Theatre

https://www.ents24.com/rotherham-events/rotherham-civic-theatre/paul-sinha/5039153

 

Saturday 22nd July

Great Yorkshire Fringe, York

https://greatyorkshirefringe.ticketsolve.com/shows/873573628

 

Saturday 22nd July      A second preview!

Brighouse, West yorks

https://www.ents24.com/brighouse-events/norths/paul-sinha/5035974

 

Tuesday 25th July

XS Malarkey, Manchester

http://www.xsmalarkey.com/listings/

 

Wednesday 26th July

Comedy Box, Bristol

http://www.thecomedybox.co.uk/site/index.asp

 

Thursday 27th July

Keighley Comedy Club

https://www.facebook.com/events/626018717586874/

Sunday 30th July

Milton Keynes Comedy Cow Festival

http://www.thecomedycow.co.uk/festival/

Oh yes I did.

It seems an eternity ago that my agent told me that I had been offered the part of Abanazar in a production of Aladdin at the Grand Opera House in York. My immediate instinct was to turn it down. I can’t sing, I can’t dance and my acting experience had been limited to the occasional medical revue. The idea of spending Christmas away from the family when I have a young nephew and niece did not enthuse. “But just find out how much the money is, just in case”

Two days later “Bradley. Can I have a word? I have just been offered the part of Abanazar in panto. Do you realistically think I can do it?”

And the vastly talented king of light entertainment, a true panto A lister, listened to the question. His eyes lit up and he said “Do it. It will be the most fun that you have ever had”.

It has been well documented that December is not a fun time for comedians. This was my chance to do something different. This was an opportunity to step way, way outside my comfort zone. I had no relationship with panto. I had never seen one, and knew nothing of its traditions and tropes. All I knew of Aladdin was from having watched the Disney movie in 1993. Crucially, I had no idea that by me saying yes, they had just cast a man with no acting experience into a massively important role.

When I first met the cast for rehearsals, that is when I realised the scale of the task. They were all so effortlessly talented and experienced. In amongst this cast of showbiz veterans and natural movers, was me, a man who makes John Sergeant look like Gene Kelly. I cast my mind back to November 1995, one of my first comedy gigs, dying on my arse while Harry Hill looked on, trying his best to look sympathetic. Suddenly I was an open spot again.

The dress rehearsal was one of the most dispiriting days of my life. Nothing went right. I was nervy, fluffed lines, props and scenes. Nobody really came out of it with their dignity intact. And yet, one day later, on the afternoon of Friday 9th December, I had to walk on stage as Abanazar and get the ball rolling. I walked on. And 500 kids booed their hearts out. And it felt amazing. And then a few days later, the reviews came in. The panto was great. Apart from the guy who played Abanazar, who really wasn’t very good.

I was gutted. I’m used to getting bad reviews from witless strangers on twitter. This was different. This made me feel embarrassed. I felt like a contestant on Faking It who had really, really tried his best but hadn’t quite made it. The difference was, there were still 30+ shows to go. I had  choices. Organise a longstanding personal vendetta against each of the reviewers, losing all dignity in the process. Start a hunger strike until the reviewers were forced to admit that they had unrealistic expectations of a man with no acting experience. Walk out of the production and flee to Belgium. The one option that sounded the best, though was….”You are having the time of your life. The good reviews for the show will guarantee audiences. You are working with people you utterly adore. Listen to their friendly advice, work harder and get better. Pantomime is a team game. So get over yourself.”

Team game. Stand up comedy is anything but. It is a lonely, neurotic, narcissistic journey. When Bradley had told me how much I would enjoy panto, he meant being part of a group who were all working for each other and not for themselves. If I had stopped enjoying being Abanazar because of what a critic had said, my unprofessionalism would have damaged the whole production. I desperately did not want to be that dick.

I’m back home now. I gave it everything I had for the remaining 30+ shows and I hope I improved. Pantomime, a genre I had always ignored, gave me the best month of my life. York, both the city and the Grand Opera House, was a magnificent host, and the cast, from the better known names to the stupendously talented but less heralded names made me feel humbled by how good they were. And the audiences, from people in the first year of life to people in their 90s, seemed to love the show. Pantomime appears to be based on bad puns, good puns, pop culture references and gay innuendo. Why wouldn’t I want to do it again?

 

 

 

Five Years

A tweet from a random stranger a few hours ago reminded me that it is five years to the day since I made my debut on The Chase. Five years since my life changed from being a little recognised but perfectly successful comedian, to suddenly being thrust into the role of smugfaced, shit-suited jelly-necked Granny magnet. I have tasted triumph and disaster and utterly failed to treat those two impostors just the same. I have some pithy observations to share with you.

There is no “best chaser” 

You will all have your favourites and Lord knows, I know you will all have your least favourites. But there really isn’t a best Chaser, we all have our different strengths. Shaun is supreme on sport and history, Anne is remarkable on literature. Jenny is one of the elite entertainment quizzers in the UK, I now know who plays Harry Potter. Mark brings the same ferocity and speed to devouring questions on the Final Chase as he does to finishing off three pork chops.  What an afternoon that was.

We have never thrown questions.

The accusation of throwing questions is utterly bizarre in that the complete opposite is true. Chasers are all narcissistic dullards who want to show off to the world just how much we know. But what about the Celeb Chases? Those shows get us our bigger audience figures, and our need to show off is even greater. But we are human, and we all have our weaknesses. There are hundred and hundreds of very simple questions that I do not know the answer to.

Bradley is remarkable

Before I started the show, I didn’t really know the difference between Shane Ritchie, Brian Conley and Bradley Walsh. That was to my utter shame. Bradley’s natural, effortless bonhomie with every demographic of contestant has seen him rise inexorably up the light entertainment ladder, and deservedly so. In addition, in contrast to the notion that the “mainstream” and “alternative” comedy circuits don’t get on, he has  never been anything less than supportive about my comedy career. I love the man.

I’m a stranger in my own town

Real life is now something of a rollercoaster ride. There are certain towns and cities where I can barely move for selfie requests. But in Crystal Palace where i live, I can wander around for a fortnight without a single human being spotting me. The show is not big in London, as people do not get back home from work in time. Either that or Richard Osman has Crystal Palace trapped in his vice-like grip.

The Lower Offer

The show has changed over the years. The questions are now harder, and fewer teams score 20+. It used to be that good players threw temper tantrums over contestants who take lower offers. Now, they actively encourage it. A good player who takes a higher offer back does not believe that that is the money he/she will be playing for. He/she knows that it is a tactical negotiating starting point. Do you know why the Chasers hate contestants taking the lower offer? Because it maximises the chances of us losing the game. Outside of the hate cauldron of twitter, it is seen as a valid tactic.

I’m a very good quizzer but…….

Kevin and Pat on Eggheads, and a guy called Olav Bjortomt are the three best quizzers in the UK. They have a combination of dedication and memory skills that mere mortals can only dream of. I am one of a number of quizzers who regularly trade blows in a  quest to be amongst the “best of the rest”. I can hold my own in this company, and I was 10th in last years European champs, and 14th in this years world champs. But it pains me to say that sometimes, under pressure, I can be utter dogshit. It doesn’t make me a bad quizzer, and it doesn’t mean it’s a fix. It just means that I am human, have bad days, and should not have challenged The Beast to a pork chop eating contest at lunch.

Fanny Chmelar

The magic of this moment will sadly never be repeated. The reason being that Bradley’s magical corpsing was based on utter shock. Now that the surprise element has been removed, so has the corpsing. Our most joyous moments now come from things contestants say.

“Which Prime Minister had the middle name Hilda?”    “John Prescott”

“What colour was the racehorse Desert Orchid?”              “Green”

And my alltime favourite contestant.

 

Being a Chaser and being a standup comic does have certain similarities. There is a needy desire to be liked. And there is a tendency to focus on the negatives rather than the positives. I hate losing, and it destroys me when I perform badly. I can display a clumsily short fuse with idiots on social media, when i know perfectly well that the mute button can be my friend. And I should never forget that I am privileged to do a job that I love, and that it isn’t  “proper” work.

OLYMPICS

It is the final push now. Yesterday a 58 year old showjumper produced a miracle, our hockey team turned over the world’s best team, Lutalo Muhammad suffered a crushing, heartbreaking one second lapse in concentration and our men’s 4 x 400 team were victims of utter imbeciles. There is no sport that cannot be ruined by the sheer dickheadedness of sports administrators. It was a day when disbelief was the overriding emotion, and I fully expect that to continue as this imperfect but fascinating Games reaches its conclusion. So here goes, this is what we have left.

It is Olympic silver medal hero Liam Heath. He goes at 1300 today in the K1 200M sprint, and has a decent shout of becoming 2016’s Ed McKeever.

Bianca Walkden TKD

Yes it’s Bianca Walkden. She is one of a number of contenders in the women’s 67kg+ taekwondo and hopes to replicate Jade Jones. Her first fight is due at 1630.

Though please don’t rule out Mahama Cho in the men’s 80kg + category. He starts as an outsider which may just mean he is going to win.

Nicola Adams was superb in her semi final. She goes for gold at approximately 1800. Go Nicola !

Tom Daley produced his statistically best performance in the 10m platform diving preliminaries yesterday. I hope he hasn’t peaked too soon, because if he replicates it in today’s semi finals and tonight’s final he has a real shout of challenging the two Chinese divers. Diving, as we have seen, can be unpredictable though.

All logic suggests that tonight’s men’s 5000m final will be a much tougher race than we have come to expect. I am keeping everything crossed. Also in the athletics, our women’s 4 x 400 relay team will no doubt be disqualified, Lynsey Sharp has an outside chance of a medal in the women’s 800m, a race in theory dominated by Caster Semenya. Charlie Grice will surely be making up the numbers in the men’s 1500m, as will Morgan Lake in the high jump. The men’s javelin looks like a thriller, with Trinidad’s Keshorn Walcott now favourite after looking great in qualifying.

We have not one but two candidates in the women’s triathlon. World champion Gwen Jorgensen of US will deservedly start hot favourite, but Helen Jenkins and Non Stanford have both won world championship races this year and as such cannot be ruled out of medal contention.

We also have Charley Hull in the golf, and Joseph Choong and Jamie Cooke in the modern pentathlon. Then tomorrow night, at approximately 1915 we have a guaranteed medal to finish Team GB ‘s games.

Joe Joyce has been superb so far. The judges however have been erratic bordering on corrupt. So I make no predictions with any confidence. He looked better than Voka in the semi finals, and lets hope it stays that way.

But GB have won 24 gold medals. Even for a relentless cheerleader like me it has been beyond my dreams.  I go into this last weekend, relaxed. Whatever happens now, goals have been surpassed. If a curmudgeon were to take away all our golds in cycling, rowing and equestrianism, we’d still be lying fifth ahead of Russia. It has been emotional. I leave you with a photograph of GB’s new Olympic hero, the fearless, unvanquishable hockey goalkeeper Maddie Hinch. The photo is of history’s greatest Olympian. Meeting Usain Bolt.

Photo published for Rio 2016, meeting Usain Bolt and what I cannot do without - Maddie Hinch column

 

 

 

Day 14 Friday August 19th.

Well wasn’t yesterday splendid. Kudos obviously to the Brownlees and Jade Jones, but the canoeing and badminton medals were also magnificent. In addition, Nicola Adams destroyed her main rival to reach the final. Finishing above China still remains a long shot, but it is not an impossible dream. On this day in 2012 we did not do very well at all. Today we are at least guaranteed a silver because……….

It’s the ladies hockey final.

  Staying up to watch the 1988 men’s final remains one of my cherished 1980s memories. Can we get a repeat at 2100 tonight? They are going to have to play out of their skin against the mighty Dutch, but whatever happens congratulations to a team who have been comfortably GBs best hockey team since 1988.

Also today………….

Liam Heath

One of yesterday’s medal heroes starts his campaign for glory in the mens K1 200m sprint.

Women’s 4 x 100 relay

It is a race where much can go wrong. As such our talented quartet are in the mix for a medal.

Joe Joyce

Our last male boxer standing goes in his semi final some time after 1900 tonight against a tough Kazakhstani. The controversial judges thus far have been very pro Soviet bloc, and although Joyce starts comfortable favourite, my suspicion is that he will have his work cut out.

Takewondo 80kg men.

Intriguingly, 2012 bronze medal Brit Lutalo Mohammed, and lapsed Brit turned Moldovan Aaron Cook both fight for medals today.

Show Jumping 

A question that I have been hearing since the 1980s. Can Nick Skelton do it?

In addition………..

Will Almaz Ayana break another world record in the women’s 5000m?

It’s the men’s basketball semi finals. Spain are the latest to stand in the way of the US

The women’s modern pentathlon concludes today. 2012 silver medallist Samantha Murray already looks out of it.

It is round three of the ladies’ golf. Pleasingly Charley Hull is in the mix. Can she stay there?

Women’s water polo and men’s volleyball semi finals.

Women’s pole vault features Holly Bradshaw, who in theory will struggle to feature.

Tom Daley begins his quest to finish the highest non Chinese diver in the 10m platform.

Then at 0235 is the mens 4 x 100 relay.

Can the great Usain Bolt crown his Olympics career with a ninth gold medal out of nine? Of course he can. But watch out for the Japanese.