Gazza: story of a footballer mercilessly used and abused by tabloid press | Barry Glendenning

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Documentary chronicles turbulent life from early days as gifted teenage midfielder to admission to the Priory

It’s no great spoiler to reveal that, apart from Gazza’s opening and closing scenes filmed near a Hampshire fishing lake, it is comprised of archive footage. The subject of this two-part documentary, to be shown on the BBC, had been booked to participate in a Q&A after a London press screening on Thursday, but despite being spotted at the venue was a no-show. The appearance of the footballer’s latter-day incarnation proved even more fleeting in “real life” as it was on screen.

Paul Gascoigne, we were told, did not feel up to facing the press and had adjourned to his hotel. While there is no suggestion his decision to abscond was rooted in any particular mistrust of the fourth estate, this film chronicling his stellar rise and subsequent fall from grace demonstrated that any misgivings he might have had would have been entirely justified. Whether intentional or not, the underlying theme of Gazza is one of venal treachery. It is the story of how one man was mercilessly used and ultimately driven to madness and the brink of suicide by the scurrilous and often illegal machinations of the tabloid press.

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Written by Barry Glendenning
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