Directed by Steve Barron, starring Ricky Tomlinson, Bradley Walsh, Dean Lennox Kelly and Martin Bashir.

With the England manager dead from a heart attack and his possible successors diving for cover, the football authorities are left with only one man to try and revive the team's fortunes: Mike Bassett. An unremarkable player, who now earns his crust in the lower leagues, Bassett is so old school that even he realises he's a walking, cursing parody.

Naturally the press are behind him at first, even when he recruits back on the wagon and out of retirement misfit Tonka Tonkinson (Walsh) as his playmaker, but when the results start going haywire, out come the knives. England barely qualify for the World Cup and when they get to the finals in Brazil, Bassett begins to feel the heat in more ways than one. The players get arrested, Tonka is caught with a transsexual hooker and the manager is filmed doing his best Frank Sinatra impression on top of the hotel bar. Can Bassett conquer his self-doubt, save his marriage, make his charges play as a team and avoid a trip home on disgrace airlines before the next game?

Picking Ricky Tomlinson as England manager was an inspired choice, unfortunately there's just not enough great gags in 'Mike Bassett' to make it funnier than Kevin Keegan's time in the England hotseat. Shooting the film as a documentary (with Martin Bashir as narrator) means that it has to be hilarious even when it's not trying to be, but put this alongside the likes of 'This is Spinal Tap' or ' Best in Show ' and you'll see how much it's found wanting.

Sure, Tomlinson is ever watchable and has some great lines ("I'm a big fan of Kipling, the poet not the cakeman"), but the script needs to be tighter, the pacing sharper and the ending less feelgood. And while Barron deserves full credit for managing to get everything and everyone from Wembley to Pele to Atomic Kitten onscreen, you'll come away thinking that Mike Bassett would be better as the half-time TV entertainment for this year's World Cup.

Harry Guerin