IN THE BEGINNING there was AMERICAN FOOTBALL on a Sunday teatime, so you could annoy your mum by switching over halfway through SONGS OF PRAISE to catch a glimpse of the 49ers versus the Redskins, presented by crap diminutive ex-DJ NICKY HORNE. “They’re all pansies, look at them helmets,” said your dad, and he was right, except not everyone agreed, leading to spurious media-led mid-80s fascination with “gridiron” and a rash of nasty silky NFL bomber jackets and Miami Dolphins baseball caps in the high street and (probably non-existant) pointless fake “Superbowl parties”, where everyone ate ‘nachos’ and drank ‘Bud’ till quarter to four on a Monday morning despite no-one having a clue, or indeed really caring what was going on: “But it’s what they do in America.” So? Popularity of sport plummeted when C4 handed presentation gig to shite alternative cabaret double act THE VICIOUS BOYS: “So the quarterback’s been sacked there”, “What, he’s lost his job?”, and even the dullest kids realising how terrible it was. Also there from the start was Monday night BASKETBALL presented by Oliver’s bro SIMON REED, except the teams changed every year, constantly switching from Milton Keynes (home of the naff minority sport, as many an international hockey player will testify) to Birmingham to Reading, so no-one knew who was who, and the whole thing died on its arse. Other try-outs included the slightly unpleasant SCHOOLBOY BOXING with Henry Cooper urging on the puppyfat poundings, AUSSIE RULES FOOTBALL (“an oval pitch! Umpires dressed like ice-cream vendors!), SUBBUTEO (best one yet), the TOUR DE FRANCE presented by Nick Owen and later Richard Keys from a bike shop window (with no drugs, and therefore no interest), extended coverage of the highly-prestigious WORLD GAMES which included dancing and bodybuilding, the legendary (but rubbish) SUMO WRESTLING (“It’s like a chess match you know”) and Indian rip-off of British Bulldog KABADDI (“Sogoody!”) Later attempts to smarten up output foundered on inclusion of “humorously” hursuite misogynist and wavy-hands bloke JOHN McCRIRICK in horse racing coverage and “for God’s sake why?” participation of BARRY NORMAN on late night duty for 1988 Olympics. Other horrors included minority showcase EVER THOUGHT OF SPORT? with Gary Crowley, a man who offered all the encouragement needed to get away from the TV set and climb halfway up a Welsh mountain, THE SPORTS QUIZ presented by Steve Davis (he’s a big soul music fan you know) and 7SPORT, extremely unnecessary cross-pollination of NETWORK 7 and GRANDSTAND, which famously included a “play” about Burnley FC.
1982 to date on C4