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BBC axe A Question of Sport after failed revamp


BBC axe A Question of Sport after failed revamp

The show has ‘production paused’ after 53 years.

The BBC have said due to “funding issues” the once-popular format is coming to an end with no plans for the corporation to produce any further editions. The world’s longest-running sports quiz has been confirmed as ending with BBC One programme commissioners announcing they have no plans to schedule any further series ‘for the foreseeable future’.

The show was revealed to be going under a revamp in 2020 but the new style production has failed to lure in viewers, with the programme losing around three million since the changes were introduced to make it more ‘youth-aimed’ and ‘entertainment’; in a similar style to Sky Max’s A League of Their Own. This hasn’t gone down well with fans of the show who feel it should have retained its focus as a sporting quiz. It has also seemingly failed to find its desperately sought ‘youth audience’ with the show having ‘limited iPlayer appeal’.

Turn off: The box-ticking youth revamp failed to lure the less mature viewers.

Reports suggest that BBC Studios have no plans to allow the programme to be commissioned by other networks with the Beeb holding onto the broadcast rights to air the series with new episodes at some point possibly in the future.

Host Sue Barker was axed much in the style of Noele Gordon as seen in Russell T Davies drama Nolly proving television executives haven’t changed since 1981 and are still seemingly sexist and ageist towards women on-screen. The often-changing team captains were also switched with the older Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell replaced by the younger Sam Quek and Ugo Monye while hosting duties went to entertainer Paddy McGuinness. The new format has only survived for two series, while Barker was the host for 24 years, joining in 1997. The series, launching in 1970, was originally fronted by David Vine, following a regional 1968 pilot edition hosted by pervert Stuart Hall.

Fondly remembered: David Coleman (centre) oversees proceedings

The 1980s saw the show reach its popular peak when 19 million tuned in to watch Princess Anne as a contestant in 1987 with David Coleman at the helm, having taken over presenting duties in 1979 and remained for 18 years. A Question of Sport reached 200 episodes in 1987 and reached its 1000th episode in 2013. The 2020 series before the revamp regularly pulled in a decent 4million. When McGuinness took over, his first show was watched by 2.2million but the ratings soon slipped to under a million as viewers found it A Question of Why Bother.

Speaking of her departure Sue Barker noted, “Naively, I’d expected more after 24 years. Why had we been shown so little respect?” The Mirror reported, she added, “I was asked to announce I was leaving for the good of the show. I was astounded. Was that because I was too old or not good enough? Either way, it was insulting. Did they expect me to sack myself?”

Popular: Sue Barker was a viewer favourite as host

Team captains have been Cliff Morgan (1968–1975), Henry Cooper (1968–1979), Fred Trueman (1976–77), Brendan Foster (1977–79), Emlyn Hughes (1979–1981, 1984–88), Gareth Edwards (1979–1981), Willie Carson (1982–83), Bill Beaumont (1982–1996), Ian Botham (1988–1996), John Parrott (1996–2002), Ally McCoist (1996–2007), Frankie Dettori (2002–04), Matt Dawson (2004–2021), Phil Tufnell (2008–2021), Sam Quek (2021–2023) and Ugo Monye (2021–2023)

In the late 1980s spin-off format, A Question of Entertainment launched with comedian Tom O’Connor as host. The programme also saw a spin-off music-based quiz launched with A Question of Pop hosted by Jamie Theakston in the 2000s.

TV Critic Vivian Summers:

“I’m sure the disastrous revamp that sent the ratings south of one million has nothing to do with this. And I’ve said it before, as have many others, the BBC is very good at making itself look poor just because it hasn’t got its own way with a licence fee increase when there is plenty of savings that can be made off-screen. But management rarely axe the unseen parts of the Beeb. An independent audit of the entire operation surely would find where real money could be saved…”

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