“Crossroad Dash. Light turns to red. We wait for the beeps. There they are…”
It seems that rugby commentator Nick Heath can make anything sound exciting.
The seasoned broadcaster – a regular commentator on Women’s Six Nations matches – has found viral fame in the current sporting drought by uploading a series of videos to social media capturing mundane events that he has himself dubbed over in over-enthusiastic style, a phenomena that now carries with it it’s own hashtag: #LifeCommentary.
From wondering what to do with his days during the coronavirus lockdown to answering thousands of messages across his social media channels, as well as a multitude of interviews from news outlets, Heath says that it has all been a bit of a blur.
“It was a case of seeing the sporting engagement disappear from the calendar,” he said.
“My last Women’s Six Nations game was 22 February – Wales v France. I was due to be on the Scotland v France women’s game having started the tournament with England v France.
“I was in a nice run of games and looking forward to concluding the Championship and then obviously a Scottish player tested positive for COVID-19, so we knew that Scotland v France game was going to go, but then over the course of the next 48 hours we saw more and more things get cancelled and then the rest of the sporting calendar went with it.
“I thought that I was going to go for a little walk to get some fresh air, and while I’m here, to make a joke about there being some sport left, stick out this silly video and re-hash an old parody commentary voice to keep my mates entertained.
“I realised that I really had nothing to do, so might as well pop down to the shops, film some other little bits, because they seemed to be going down well and there was a snowball effect.
“I’ve now done close to 50 interviews in the last week to ten days and seen my Twitter following go from 15,000 to 110,000. I think last Saturday it went up 50,000 in one day, which was bonkers!
“I think the phrase I’ve been using is that I then went more viral than COVID-19 itself!”
It all started back on March 17 with something at least resembling sport – a weary two-person kickabout in the park – before the videos became more and more creative.
Heath’s burgeoning fanbase have since been treated to everything from a ‘Drag A Load Of Tat’ display’ to ‘Pigeon Dressage’.
And though Heath himself acknowledges the silliness of it all, some of the kind words he has received from viewers go to show that he is, in fact, doing an important service.
“I’ve had hundreds, it could even be thousands, of messages from people saying thank you for the laugh and various others from people who are struggling or worrying about loved ones,” he continued.
“It’s just a case of keeping yourself busy and trying to be distracted from the fact that there isn’t any real sport on.
“You don’t set out to have that responsibility, but when you start to receive a lot more of those messages, you see the impact.
“There was a moment before I uploaded the most recent one where I thought ‘this is just so silly!’.
“But within ten minutes of doing it I’m getting messages from people saying that they were really looking forward to it, have belly-laughed for the first time today and you realise that it is doing some good, which is a humbling gift to be giving.
“There’s a sense of responsibility about it. How much longer I’ll be doing it, I don’t know, but it’s been a fun ride.”
With opportunities to get outside to mine new content now severely limited by the recent lockdown, Heath admits that he might be forced to turn his attentions to “me sorting socks in the laundry.”
But, given the chance to pick only one of his improvised events to spend the rest of his days commentating over, the choice is a clear one.
“I think it’s probably got to be the Crossroad Dash, because at least that has a start-point and an end-point, lights and a beeper,” he finished.
“With no sport in another month or two, I dare say there’ll be a betting company behind some crossroads somewhere and people can place their bets on that!”