Entertainment & Arts

Phil Neville World Cup commentary draws complaints

Phil Neville in Rio
Image caption Phil Neville (right) said the criticism would help him to improve his style

The BBC has received 445 complaints from viewers about Phil Neville's BBC One commentary on England's World Cup match against Italy.

Neville, a former Manchester United and Everton player, was criticised for his lack of emotion and "monotone" style.

In response, Neville told BBC Radio 5 live the TV role was "a lot harder than I thought it was going to be".

Despite the complaints, the BBC said the footballer would continue to play "a key role throughout the tournament".

A spokesperson added Neville - who is currently a coach for Manchester United and has received broadcast training - was "an important, well-respected member of our team".

Neville told sports presenter Mark Chapman he welcomed the feedback on his performance: "In terms of the content I got out, I thought [it] was quite good.

"But the feedback is that I need to show a bit more excitement, so I think you'll see that more on Thursday night in the highlights show.

"I will get better - it was my first live gig and I'm just glad I helped everyone get to sleep back home!"

Image copyright PA
Image caption England lost 2-1 to Italy on Saturday in the first Group D match in Manaus, Brazil

The England v Italy match attracted an average 11.5 million viewers, peaking at 15.6 million just before half-time making it one of the most watched programmes of the year so far.

Viewers also took to Twitter to criticise Neville, with several joking England physio Gary Lewin - who was stretchered off after injuring his ankle - had "fallen into a coma" listening to him.

Neville responded saying: "1st live co-comm last night - sometimes u have to take the criticism - it will only make me better- thanks for the feedback (ahhahaha)!"

BBC Radio 5 live broadcaster Danny Baker was among his critics but said the BBC should share the blame.

"Phil Neville has acknowledged he wasn't great during England commentary - but what were the BBC doing giving him that game to 'learn his craft'?" he said.

Neville's next World Cup appearance is as a BBC TV studio guest for Monday night's game between Iran and Nigeria.

The complaints come four months after more than 300 people complained over the corporation's quality of commentary during a snowboarding final at the Winter Olympics.

Viewers complained after Aimee Fuller, Ed Leigh and Tim Warwood cheered when a competitor fell, putting the UK athlete in a bronze medal position.

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