There are few football fans who do not admire, however grudgingly, the way David Beckham plays football, but it is his life off the pitch and the media circus that surrounds it that forms the basis of The Real David Beckham. Despite Victoria's initial assurances that David is not thick but "mentally stimulating", with a "very deep personality", it is his seeming lack of complication which is most likely to disarm such prejudices. Beckham loves his wife and child, playing football for Manchester United and shopping for cars and jewellery. He also has few close friends, likes cooking and is more in touch with his feminine side than Gary Neville, for whom the kitchen is a mysterious and unknowable place.
With extensive access to Chez Beckham the video is undoubtedly modelled on the OK and Hello! model of investigative journalism, but remains nonetheless compelling. It occasionally even manages to find gaps between the endless photo shoots and signings through which the realities of daily life appear. The loneliness of separation from a family he obviously adores and his experiences of listening to the sickening abuse directed at them from the country's terraces are just two indications of a more substantive and difficult existence beyond the lens. You will also get the inside story on the training ground bust up with Alex Ferguson ("it was confrontation time" the manager remarks with steely resolve), the sending off against Argentina and subsequent tabloid vilification, and England's dismal Euro 2000 showing.
Among the more bizarre moments there is David's old landlady in Salford showing off the bags of small change he collected in his teens, still residing in his old cupboard, and the sight of Beckham mocking up a new tattoo of Victoria's name on his arm with felt tips. Apparently the couple were worried this could be perceived as a bit tacky and, having tried Chinese lettering from the takeaway menu ("it probably said special fried rice and sweet and sour pork"), finally settled on an Arabic script to add a touch of class. The Real David Beckham--you certainly couldn't make it up!