TV Cream

TV: G is for...


Coleman cues up another round-Britain roustabout "I'm just hearing there's a developing situation at Vicarage Road"

ONCE BOLTED firmly to the scheduling floor on Saturday afternoon, this prized presentational paddle-steamer was berthed only when it became silly to pretend a sports show could be more than the sum of its parts. Originally a good excuse for huge nuclear-powered monitor trucks to trundle round the country seeking out “today’s sport” so they could cover it “live, as it happens”. DAVID COLEMAN was the blazer-clad anchor, augmenting a meagre salary with never-bettered football commentaries on big match days. Theme tune an old-school brass and drums fanfare; titles had one of those old-fashioned multi-lensed cameras with a different sporty clip superimposed on the end of each lens. Fast-paced, ground-breaking and the place to be for “real” events…or a rag-bag of inconsequential black and white exteriors depending on your perspective. Next to don the sheepskin coat was Emperor FRANK BOUGH, a professional uncle less prone than Coleman to streams of hyperbolic consciousness. Combination of Bough-age and arrival of colour TV catalysed steady growth to a position of total dominance. No rivals to speak of (WORLD OF SPORT being a different thing entirely); this was when the world was at its grass-stained feet. 1970s line-up as reliable as Big Ben: Football Focus (Coleman again, or maybe Bob Wilson); racing from Haydock/Epsom/Chepstow/Towcester interspersed with boxing or rally-cross or the ever-so-glamorous ski-jumping from Garmisch-Partenkirchen; then depending on the season it was big cricket, or tennis or golf or rugby – either the real game with Wales beating everyone or Eddie Waring watching the “other” lot in Hull or Castleford or Wigan. Names as familiar as the format: DAVID VINE, HARRY CARPENTER, PETER O’SULLEVAN, ALAN WEEKS, BARRY DAVIES, DAN MASKELL, JOHN ARLOTT, BILL MCLAREN. Final Score rounded it all up: highlights, teleprinter, league tables, pools and peculiar vignettes from regional reporters with perfectly respectable day jobs dragged in to the studio to report on “Burnley 0 Stoke City 0”. Then Bough went a-breakfasting and unflappable anchorage duties taken on by Professor DES “DESMOND” LYNAM. Programme coasted effortlessly through the 1980s. Slowly live sport began to drift away, or rather up, to be beamed back down to those who could pay for it. Schedules became less heavyweight, more paperweight. STEVE RIDER, SUE BARKER and friends took the ropes through the 90s but by then the entire affair was regularly being ditched for extended coverage of whatever big tournament the Beeb had splashed out on that year with the name “Grandstand” scrubbed out and “Match Of The Day Live” being written in its place. Ultimately laid to rest by merciful executives to no tribute whatsoever. Bom bom, diddle-iddle-iddle.

"We've got cameras at all the main action: Sheffield Municipal Swimming Baths, the Exeter equestrian centre, the Leeds Crown Green Bowling club..."



  1. Paul

    September 28, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    And what, precisely, were all those people doing in the background? On WOS too!

  2. goodpudding

    September 28, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Remarkably… On WOS they were replying to fan mail, writing memos and other typed notices… Can anyone remember an edition where people could phone in and request sporting clips… Think it was in about ’82…

  3. Martin M

    September 28, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    On Final Score you know a team had been properly hammered when they got ‘the brackets’ on the Videoprinter

  4. Chris O

    September 29, 2009 at 7:06 am

    I can still remember seeing the result back in 1984…


    Happy days, although not if you’re a Selkirk fan, of course…

  5. Arthur Nibble

    September 29, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I saw my non-League favourites lose 6-2 in the FA Cup that day. Hearing Selkirk’s result cheered me up no end!

  6. Terry Christie

    June 24, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Saturday October 11th 1958 when the BBC Sports Programme Grandstand went on the air for the first time Introduced by Peter Dimmock for two weeks and the main presenter of course is David Coleman.

    The Classified Football Results & Cricket Scoreboard read by Leonard Martin also The Rugby & Racing Results read by John Langham to be replaced by Tim Gudgin since 1965.

    The Great Sporting Memories over the years including Horse Racing,Professional Boxing,Golf,
    Rugby League,Football,Greyhound Racing,Darts,
    Snooker,Cricket,Tennis,Rugby Union,Netball,
    Table Tennis,Voleyball,Basketball,Show Jumping
    Athletics,Ten Pin Bowling,Indoor Bowling,The Boat Race,Ice Skating,Motor Racing,Stock Car Racing,Speedway Racing and Pool.

    The Famous FA Cup Final in 1973 when Sunderland beat Leeds United 1-0 by Ian Porterfield goal and in 1966 when England defeats the Infamous West Germany by Geoff Hurst Hat-Trick 4-2 in the World Cup Final at Wembley Stadium in London.

    The Great Sporting Memories on BBC-tv Sports Programme Grandstand 1958-2007.

    Terry Christie
    From Sunderland,Tyne & Wear

  7. Des E

    July 31, 2012 at 11:11 am

    And is it just me, or is the poster immediately above a sp*mmer…?

  8. Des E

    August 1, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Matters no longer – the post I was referring to there has now been deleted. Cheers, TVC. 😉

  9. fuz

    August 11, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    LURCHED into the 90s with endless shots of Jimmy White sat depressed in a chair. To either Technotronic or Doop.

  10. Glenn Aylett

    August 11, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    By the end of the nineties, Grandstand was a damaged brand. The BBC had lost all its cricket, boxing, motor racing, a hefty chunk of its horse racing and rugby union, and Stand was finding it hard to fill five hours. Probably when ITV took football highlights in 2001, this was probably the beginning of the end and the show stopped being shown every week due to lack of sport. Also the Sunday version of the show, which was dominated by cricket in the past, began to vanish from the schedules.
    OTOH, when the BBC dominated televised sport in the seventies and eighties, you could get such oddities as Mini rally cross and judo among the racing and cricket.

  11. Glenn Aylett

    February 4, 2023 at 12:35 pm

    Final Score survives, but not in the format of the old Grandstand. The traditional version of Final Score would feature not only football result, but rugby uniom, cricket and horse racing results, was 25 minutes long and would end at 5.10 for the news. In summer it would have a cricket scoreboard asd racing results. Nowadays, the whole thing is football only, can last as long as 90 minutes, and has three pundits and a presenter grouped around a monitor discussing various games. Other sports don’t get a look in and in summer, the show takes a break.

  12. Richardpd

    February 4, 2023 at 10:38 pm

    Football Focus is another surviving segment which is now a stand alone programme.

  13. Glenn Aylett

    February 5, 2023 at 12:38 pm

    @ Richardpd, football highlights and the FA Cup are the mainstays of BBC Sport on Saturdays in winter, so these two remnants of Grandstand live on. Football Focus is probably closer to the old days, a 50 minute mixture of interviews, reviews and talking heads that follows the 12.00 news, while Final Score has become a 90 minute programme with reporters and pundits.
    On another note, those sports that followed the racing when there was no major event for Grandstand to show seem to have completely vanished from the BBC. Anyone care to remember Minis racing around Brands Hatch, an armed forces boxing tournament, international judo and badminton that could fill 90 minutes? For someone with no interest in team sports, this was one reason to tune in.

  14. Richardpd

    February 5, 2023 at 10:07 pm

    I remember Grandstand often featured lower categories of motor racing, like touring cars, rallycross & truck racing.

    When the dedicated sports channels started many niche sport coverage seemed to be snapped up by them.

  15. Glenn Aylett

    February 11, 2023 at 3:06 pm

    Sunday Grandstand was generally a bore, being dominated by cricket and tennis, and had none of the off beat sports you’d finf on a Saturday. Once the BBC lost all of its cricket, Sunday Grandstand was cut back and then ditched.

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