The Grandstand fight, 1st April 1989
Most media April Fools are pretty rubbish, to be honest, but there are exceptions and this classic from Des Lynam’s imperial phase has to be the best. 1989 was quite the vintage year for April Fools if only because for the first time in over a decade it was on a Saturday, so earlier in the day Going Live was full of gags (mostly at the expense of Pip Schofield, whose birthday it was), and then BBC Sport could finally use the ideas they’d been bursting to use for ages. What absolutely makes this, of course, is Des’ immaculate comic timing, the “highly professional team” line coming in right at the crescendo of the ruck. In fact this is actually the second take as, having wisely decided to pre-record it, the first time it got a bit too raucous and completely drowned Des out. What you may not have seen is the callback a few minutes later, Des cueing in the replay with some relish and clearly having a whale of a time with this bit of silliness. In fact it’s testimony to how Des more or less singlehandledly changed the role of the sports presenter in this country as before he arrived, especially on the Beeb, sport was taken seriously with the presenters being somewhat intense, whereas Des arrived with a wry smile and a raised eyebrow and was wise enough to realise that some rugby league from Widnes isn’t always that sensational. It would be hard to imagine another sports presenter willing to take the piss out their own show to such an extent and, now he seems to be a bit of a miserable git, remember Des this way.