Family hope song in support of Gary Lineker sparks impartiality conversations

A family who have penned a viral song which makes use of the Match Of The Day tune to stand in solidarity with Gary Lineker hope it generates “worthwhile” discussions about impartiality.

History lecturer Ben Marsh, 46, his wife Danielle, 45, an administrator, and their children – Alfie, 16, Thomas, 15, Ella, 13, and Tess, 11 – posted a video of their song to Twitter on Friday, with the hashtag #IStandWithGary.

The video – which was uploaded to Twitter on Friday night and has more than 600,000 views and over 12,000 likes – sees Ella playing the trumpet, Alfie, the bass, Thomas, the drum, Tess the triangle and Mr Marsh playing the guitar; while most of the group sing the lyrics, including their Alaskan Shepherd Monty.

Mr Marsh told the PA news agency that the BBC’s decision to ask Lineker to step back from presenting Match Of The Day (MOTD) on Friday night acted as the “trigger” for the song.

“We thought that the whole thing was an over-exaggeration anyway”, Mr Marsh, who lives with his family in Faversham, Kent, said.

“But we felt like it was worth saying something about what was happening internally.”

The ex-footballer became embroiled in a row over impartiality following a tweet which saw him compare the language used to launch a new Government asylum policy with 1930s Germany.

Mrs Marsh added that after finding out about the BBC’s decision regarding Lineker at 5pm on Friday, she told her husband who disappeared for a while and then sent over a text with lyrics.

Marsh family song
Ben Marsh, his wife Danielle, and their four children Alfie, Thomas, Ella and Tess (The Marsh Family)

Some of the lyrics include: “We’ve all just seen a game of chicken within the BBC / They’ve given Lineker a kicking, for no apology” and “they’ve backed themselves into a corner and tried to park the bus”.

Mr Marsh added that after he sent his text, he got a text back from downstairs which read: “The lyrics look great, but what’s the tune?

“And [Danielle] did not clock that the song was inspired by the Match Of The Day song.”

Mrs Marsh retorted that by the time her husband came down the stairs, “me and Ella were singing the lyrics to the tune”.

Mr Marsh said that it took him roughly an hour to write the lyrics.

“The Lineker issue had been floating around in my head and then there was this other news about Attenborough and a wildlife programme”, he said.

“On Twitter, people were saying: they’re cancelling Attenborough, they’re cancelling Lineker, but then on the other side there is the issue of impartiality and figures like Laura Kuennsberg and Fiona Bruce within the BBC.”

“We decided we did not just want to make the song about Lineker, but to make it about the problem of people’s assumptions about bias.”

It took around half-an-hour for the song to be recorded following the first text from Mr Marsh, with the second out of the third attempt being uploaded to Twitter.

Mr Marsh said that the “key” part of the song was Ella “getting the trumpet on board”.

He added: “That was reasonably hard to learn.

“On the first take that we did, she got it wrong and we then tried it two other times, but neither of them were very good.

“But she was happy to use it even though she screwed up.”

When asked why, Ella told PA: “I think it was funnier because when I made a mistake and Monty was howling, everyone just had a bit more fun with it.”

The family have previously written songs on other contentious political issues, including a sea shanty about the dramatic resignation of Suella Braverman as home secretary in October of last year – and have been dubbed the “Von Trapped” family by the New York Times.

Mrs Marsh said that although the song is “not perfect”, she wanted it to highlight why impartiality is something that should be on people’s minds.

“It’s a song that’s been done in a couple of hours – it’s not meant to be perfect, it’s not meant to be the most brilliant thing we’ve ever done, but sometimes music speaks to things and it makes people think about their opinion,” she said.

“You might not agree, you might have not even clocked the story, but we felt that impartiality is such an important topic and it’s something we wanted others to think about.”

Mr Marsh added: “It almost feels like something worthwhile may come out of the whole Gary Lineker episode because it is ridiculous for the media and everyone to be so obsessed with one celebrity sporting figure and not the substantive issue of migration policy which should have had much more airtime.

“But now it feels like we’ve kind of come through the Lineker thing – almost to a wider set of discussions about the public sphere.”

Ian Wright file photo
Ian Wright has been one of the biggest supporters of Lineker (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Many sporting pundits and high profile figures have lent their support to the ex-footballer, including Ian Wright and Alan Shearer who refused to present MOTD in Lineker’s absence – and Alex Scott, who tweeted that she would not present Football Focus on Saturday.

Mr Marsh added that it has been “really moving” to see sporting figures that are not often associated with politics stand in solidarity.

He said: “There’s a lot of power in that kind of emotion.

“I don’t know what Alan Shearer’s politics are or Ian Wright’s – and I don’t particularly care, but I think that it is cool that they and others have stood up for Gary Lineker.”