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.