Thursday, 31 March 2016

367 A Question of Sport

First  viewed  : Uncertain

I'm  not  sure  when  I  first  caught  this  hardy  perennial  but  the  first  team  captains I  remember  were  Gareth  Edwards  and  Emlyn  Hughes   which  would  put  it  between  1979 when  both  joined  the  series  and  1981  when  Edwards  stepped  down.

I  half-enjoyed  it, the  problem  being  that  my  mum  and  sister  watched  sports  that  I  didn't  e.g. athletics , show  jumping, ice  skating , and  so  they  would  usually  be  able  to  answer  more  questions  than  me  who  was  restricted  to  football, snooker  and  tennis.  I  also  waited  in  vain  for  any  wrestler  to  feature  or  even  a  question  about  it.

The  show  had  been  going  since  1970  with  gaffe-prone  sports  commentator  David  Coleman  taking  over  from  David  Vine   in  the  chair  in  1979 . Although  Coleman  enjoyed  some  banter  with  the  captains,  he  still  came  across  as  a  humourless  figure  with  a  comb-over  who  took  himself  far  too  seriously. He  apparently  hated  the  Colemanballs  feature  in  Private  Eye  which  highlighted  his  regular  goofs  and  when  he  appeared  with  his  Spitting  Image  puppet  on  some  Comic  Relief  programme  the  expression  on  his  face   told  you  it  was  an  exquisitely  painful  experience  for  him.   He  retired  in  1997  and  died  in  2013  aged  87.

Edwards  was  replaced  by  another  rugby  guy  Bill  Beaumont  , a  genial  giant  who  always  gave  the  impression  his  elevator  didn't  quite  reach  the  top  floor. He  was  a  good  foil  for  the  manic  Hughes  and  they  are  the  pairing  I  best  remember. I  was  watching  in  1987  for  Emlyn's  John  Reid / Princess  Anne  faux  pas  and  the  latter's  subsequent  appearance  on  the  programme. I  also  remember when  he  and  Everton's  Trevor  Steven  had  US  tennis  player  Peter  Fleming  on  their  team  and  he  seemed  to  know  more  about  football  than  they  did.

Hughes  could  be  very  irritating  but  the  programme  lost  something  when  he  left  in  1988  and  was  replaced  by  Ian  Botham.  I  drifted  away  from  it  some  time  during  his  tenure  and  never  really  came  back  on  a  regular  basis.

Sue  Barker  of  course  took  over  from  Coleman  and  remains  in  the  chair  to  this  day. I  like  her  but  there  was  always  a  barrier  to  watching  the  show  in  the  form  of  Ally  McCoist. I  just  can't  bear  seeing  him  treated  as  a  top  class  footballer  knowing  he  was  an  abject  failure  when  he  tried  out  in  a  decent  league  for  Sunderland.  They  wouldn't  have  made  Steve  Bull or  Tommy  Tynan  a  team  captain.

I  can't  say  I'm  a  great  fan  of  Phil  Tufnell's  overgrown  schoolboy  routine  either  but  I  do  catch  snatches  of  the  show  now  and  then  as  it  often  seems  to  be  on  when  I've  put  my  son  to  bed.


  1. One of my bete noirs this. It seems to me that the beeb shove it on whenever they've a spare half hour, which has only increased since the 2012 Olympics which led to their hard-on for sportspeople. In the glimpses I catch of it now before hastily rushing for the remote it seems like they've just copied great swathes of They Think It's All Over which 'Tuffers' had previously been on in its dog days. Can't stand Matt Dawson either, or indeed anyone who refers to themselves in the third person with a nickname ie 'The Dawes' Not keen on Sue Barker either, and McCoist's flirting with her was always painful to watch. For me, the golden era was the one you pretty much recall here; Hughes V Beaumont, though I think I've more of a memory for when Botham took over. My Dad met Big Bill at a car boot sale once!

  2. It does seem to be always on, you're right. I have to admit I have no idea who Matt Dawson is/was.

    1. You're lucky! He's the other team captain with Tuffnell, or was. He's a former rugby union player

  3. My old man found Emlyn Hughes irritating beyond words (the fact he was from Barrow didn't help), so I only remember it after he left - not watched it in years now, though the "What Happened Next?" bit tended to be good value.

  4. No matter how many years this has been running for now, and no matter who is on it, they still attempt to breathe life in the 'Oh I think I'd best go home' joke during the home or away round