“If I wasn’t sitting here, I’d be sitting there with you”

Monday, April 24, 2006 by

It’s long existed in name and theme tune only, but it still comes as a bit of a shock to learn that Grandstand is coming to an end after 48 years.

The writing has been on the wall since 2001, when Football Focus and Final Score became shows in their own right. In between, Grandstand has largely abandoned the compendium format of its heyday, and evolved into a programme devoted to one big event. The audience for a five-hour miscellany of sport in all its forms has all but disappeared. If you like snooker, you don’t want it interrupted by scrambling. And if you’re interested in football, you don’t want to wait until 4.40pm for the results, when you can watch the scores roll in all afternoon.

BBC1 will still be devoted to sport on Saturday afternoons, but it’s a pity that something practically everyone grew up with, even if they were only tuning in for Doctor Who, is about to disappear forever. The theme tune, the teleprinter, the pools news and the handwritten racing results … enduring images, as Ron Manager would say.

Moreover, the end of Grandstand just about sounds the death knell for the classic all-round sportscaster. In the old days, the programme would be anchored by the same presenter, week in, week out – Frank Bough, Des Lynam or Steve Rider – live from a buzzing Lime Grove studio full of typists. Now, if Grandstand is covering tennis, it’s Sue Barker, if it’s rugby union it’s John Inverdale, and if it’s snooker it’s Hazel Irvine. It seems a shame that we’ll probably not see the like of David Coleman or Harry Carpenter bestriding the sporting globe again.

I think watching Grandstand is one of my earliest television memories. I remember being hugely amused at a rugby team being called Bath.


Comments are closed.