Michelle Keegan shines as a footballer’s wife in the ‘60s with the same name as the Coronation Street character that made her famous. Unfortunately Tina & Bobby was an own goal, by Jim Shelley 

Tina & Bobby was a three-part ITV drama about the legendary footballer who captained England to victory in the 1966 World Cup, with Michelle Keegan starring in the lead role.

No not as Bobby Moore.

Taking the part of the West Ham centre-half would have been a stretch even for Keegan. The former Coronation Street bombshell didn’t have the legs for it for a start. (The 1960s mini skirts she was wearing confirmed her pins were far too shapely.)

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Tina & Bobby was a three-part ITV drama about the legendary footballer who captained England to victory in the 1966 World Cup, with Michelle Keegan in the lead role and Lorne Macfayden playing the iconic Bobby 

Keegan following in the footsteps of Cate Blanchett (who once played Bob Dylan) or Glenda Jackson (currently in the West End as King Lear) and swapping sexes would have interesting, not to say preferable - given the horribly wooden performance as Bobby Moore by Lorne Macfayden.

Instead, the buxom, pneumatic, pocket rocket appeared as Moore’s first wife Tina.

Keegan was easily the best thing about it too. The 60s’ fashion, thick eyelashes, and blonde mane suited her, giving her a doe-eyed beauty reminiscent of Joanne Whalley as Christine Keeler in Scandal.

Perfect choice: Keegan was easily the best thing about it too. The 60s’ fashion, thick eyelashes, and blonde mane suited her, giving her a doe-eyed beauty

As Tina Moore (nee Dean) Keegan had the same combination of youthful vulnerability and spirited heart that she perfected in Coronation Street between 2008 and ‘14 as David Platt’s on/off girlfriend Tina McIntyre.

Tina & Bobby was probably never going to work. It had two potential audiences: football followers interested in the life of Bobby Moore and fans of Michelle Keegan. They weren’t entirely mutually exclusive but you wondered how many of Keegan’s (predominantly young) fanbase had even heard of Bobby Moore or were really interested in them.

There was more Tina than Bobby but it should have focused on the ‘woman behind the man’ like another 60s biopic, Mrs Biggs.

Disappointing: There was nothing about either character’s back-story before the first meeting between Tina and Bobby (aged 15 and 16 respectively), beyond the fact that Tina had gone to grammar school and her mother had paid for her to have elocution lessons

The detail of the terraced houses with outside toilets, retro double-decker buses, and old leather footballs like cannonballs may have been immaculate but the actual drama was disappointingly shallow. 

There was nothing about either character’s back-story before the first meeting between Tina and Bobby (aged 15 and 16 respectively), beyond the fact that Tina had gone to grammar school and her mother (played by Patsy Kensit) had paid for her to have elocution lessons.

‘You don’t have to worry about me anymore mum,’ Tina reassured her having turned down a job as a secretary at Vogue. ‘I’ve got a great future. As Mrs Moore.’

I do: Even though Tina’s response was ‘he’s not my type’ and ‘he’s a bit square’, they were married by the fourth minute

Tina & Bobby met in the very first scene, when Moore eyed her up in the queue outside a dancehall.

‘Apparently he’s a footballer for West Ham,’ Tina’s best friend told her - and any less viewers at home who didn’t know who he was.

Even though Tina’s response was ‘he’s not my type’ and ‘he’s a bit square’, they were married by the fourth minute.

Subtle it wasn’t.

The Early Happy Years were signalled by Moore’s speech at the wedding (telling her ‘I promise I’ll look after you, so you never have to work another day in your life. You’re my princess’) and the lyrics of the song the two lovebirds danced to. ‘I wanna be Bobby’s Girl…’

Married man: The Early Happy Years were signalled by Moore’s speech at the wedding (telling her ‘I promise I’ll look after you, so you never have to work another day in your life. You’re my princess’)

Bad omen: Tina had experienced a foretaste of her life to come when Moore’s best man and team-mate at West Ham, Noel Cantwell, turned up on their honeymoon in Spain

The arc of Bobby’s football career was spelt out in the same stilted style.

‘You’ve got commanding presence on the pitch and your fellow players listen to you,’ England boss Alf Ramsay commended him. ‘One is aware of the tremendous responsibility for a man of just 23 years old, but I would be delighted if you would accept the position of captain.’

This was in May 1963, for a game against Czechoslovakia.

‘What about our holiday?’ the newly married Mrs Moore protested naively.

‘We have to cancel,’ the new England hero told her. Quite right.

Limited: The arc of Bobby’s football career was spelt out in the same stilted style

Reward: ‘You’ve got commanding presence on the pitch and your fellow players listen to you,’ England boss Alf Ramsay commended him. ‘One is aware of the tremendous responsibility for a man of just 23 years old, but I would be delighted if you would accept the position of captain’

Tina had experienced a foretaste of her life to come when Moore’s best man and team-mate at West Ham, Noel Cantwell, turned up on their honeymoon in Spain, sitting round the pool discussing such fascinating issues as ‘what do you think of Ron Greenwood’s new formation, playing further back?’

Tina’s growing dissatisfaction was symbolised like a sitcom - burning Bobby’s dinner and struggling to live up to the way his mother sewed his football shorts.

‘Robert’s always had a larger than average girth…’ 

Awkward: Tina’s growing dissatisfaction was symbolised like a sitcom - burning Bobby’s dinner and struggling to live up to the way his mother sewed his football shorts

When the shorts promptly tore during one match, Tina’s humiliation was capped by Moore glaring directly at her in the crowd. Clearly a straight red card offence…

‘I don’t think I’m cut out for all this domestic stuff,’ she insisted, desperately considering taking another job at Vogue.

‘You married a footballer. You might be his wife but the game will always be his mistress,’ she was told, bluntly advised to be content with her lot and the luxuries that accompanied it.

Breaking the cliche: The only time the drama steered past such trite stereotypes was when Tina found out she was pregnant and shortly afterwards, at the age of just 23, Moore had to have a testicle removed

The only time the drama steered past such trite stereotypes was when Tina found out she was pregnant and shortly afterwards, at the age of just 23, Moore had to have a testicle removed. ‘In cases like this we don’t advise it,’ his doctor told Tina, reluctantly offering to talk to Moore and explain ‘the full diagnosis’ – cancer.

‘No ! You mustn’t use that word. It’s like a death sentence !’ Tina insisting, reflecting the stigma around it at the time. She kept it secret from him, from her mum, and everyone - until a priest found her praying, confiding that she had a husband who’d had cancer, despairing ‘What would I do without him if it came back?’

‘But he’s young, fit?’ the priest asked.

‘He’s the captain of England for God’s sake !’ she blurted out.

‘Bobby Moore?!’

‘Oh bugger !’

Not happy: ‘I don’t think I’m cut out for all this domestic stuff,’ she insisted, desperately considering taking another job at Vogue

‘There’s no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear…’ the priest encouraged her.

But Tina & Bobby’s romance was not ‘perfect love’ and was just one of the pairings that turned out to be not as idyllic as viewers might have been lead to believe.

West Ham fans who worship Bobby Moore as the club’s greatest ever icon and their own World Cup hero suffered the ignominy of seeing him trying to leave the Hammers, to join Tottenham (for more money and a £10, 000 signing on fee) - just before the 1966 tournament.

The impasse became so bitter that his reputedly beloved mentor Ron Greenwood used the fact Moore would be ineligible to play for his country if he was between contracts that he eventually forced Moore into re-signing for West Ham - without any better terms.

Insult: West Ham fans who worship Bobby Moore as the club’s greatest ever icon and their own World Cup hero suffered the ignominy of seeing him trying to leave the Hammers, to join Tottenham

Stalemate: The impasse became so bitter that his reputedly beloved mentor Ron Greenwood used the fact Moore would be ineligible to play for his country if he was between contracts

Fearing Moore would be unavailable Alf Ramsay replaced him as captain and left him out of England’s friendly matches building up to the finals.

When Tina found out what Moore had been doing and at what cost to his career she flipped.

‘I thought we’d got over this !’ she raged, referring to her husband’s inability to talk about the psychological effects of the operation. ‘What good is more money if we don’t have a happy marriage ! You know I used to be so sure what we had was special.’

‘This is completely different !’ Moore countered. ‘Football’s my life! It’s nothing to do with you!’

At this, Tina threw her wedding ring out of the window, ordered him to stop the car, and stormed off down the road on foot.

This, finally, was Michelle Keegan in her element.

Unfortunately it was still merely a pale imitation of her previous, more famous, fiery romance – one altogether more convincing and more meaty and gritty and worthy of its own Coronation Street spin-off series: Tina & David. 

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