It comes with a growing sense of unease.
On Thursday morning, the Ladies European Tour sent out a press release touting a documentary on Charley Hull that will air on BBC One on Easter Sunday afternoon. As is always the case with such things, the program (or programme in local parlance), will air several more times on other channels as well as being available for online streaming.
According to the LET release, the documentary “looks at how the last 12 months have catapulted the teenager into a global sports star. It charts her progress from being Rolex Rookie of the Year on the 2013 Ladies European Tour to winning her first tournament at the 2014 Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco the week before her 18th birthday and then playing in the first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship in California, an event she nearly won.
Currently leading the LET’s ISPS Handa Order of Merit, her drive and focus in becoming world number one is clear as is the love, support and sacrifice of her family.”
This sounds like wholesome family entertainment, perfect holiday filler on a network known for airing arcane documentaries on bird dogs and obscure historical figures from the Roman Empire.
The worry is how such nationwide fame will affect Hull and her family.
Charley is 18 now, a legally emancipated adult who can drink and gamble in the UK if she wants, older than many from her great-grandparents generation who had to fight a war and rebuild a bombed-out country. But she is also an innocent: an engaging youth with an extraordinary talent that should be in turns celebrated and nurtured.
The documentary doesn’t say so directly, but its airing implicitly places the weight of British women’s sports on Hull’s shoulders. Tim Henman and Andy Murray can tell you how heavy that yoke is and how stunting it can be to your growth in the game you love.
So far Dave Hull, Charlie’s father who works as a plasterer in Northamptonshire, has done far more right than wrong in raising his superstar child. That is part of the appeal to networks like the BBC.
Dave is as far from the typical stage dad as you can get. Let’s just hope the roots that have kept the Hulls so firmly grounded to this point don’t dry up and crack under the withering spotlight of fame.