BBC GRANDSTAND

by Mark Nobes, chief editor

These days your lucky to see any sport on the BBC, but if you lived through the 70s and 80s, then you'll remember that the Saturday afternoon TV schedule was dominated by sports programmes. While ITV showed World Of Sport (best remembered for the British wrestling), BBC1 had Grandstand, which usually aired from 1.00pm to 5.45pm, and was followed by the news and weather.

But can you remember all of the presenters names?

Grandstand Presenters

The first episode aired in October 1958 and was presented by Peter Dimmock. He was quickly replaced by David Coleman, who became the main host until 1968 - he went on to present Sportsnight With Coleman (which aired on Tuesday evenings) and then A Question Of Sport

Between 1968 and 1983, Frank Bough became the main presenter of Grandstand, before quitting to host Breakfast Time with Nick Ross and Selina Scott. However, the following year he was sacked by the BBC when the newspaper headline "I took drugs with vice girls" appeared, totally destroying Bough's squeaky clean image. 

David Coleman presenting Grandstand
David Coleman presenting Grandstand

Des Lynam became the main presenter until 1991 and an occasional host until 1999. Steve Rider was the main presenter from 1991 until 2005.

There were plenty of other presenters and commentators, too, and here are a few names you may have forgotten about... 

Alan Weeks - who is best remembered for hosting winter sports and the Winter Olympics

David Icke - he was a co-presenter from 1982 until 1990, but then he lost the plot by announcing he was the "son of the Godhead" in 1991, and that the world would be hit by devastating earthquakes and tidal waves. He also claimed the Queen is a shape-shifting reptilian lizard. Well, I guess her name is Liz, so he must be right. 

Bob Wilson - the ex-Arsenal and Scotland player also hosted Football Focus between 1974 and 1994. 

Barry Davies - his voice is probably more recognisable than his face, and he's provided the commentary for countless football matches and has covered nine World Cups.

Harry Carpenter - he's best-remembered for commentating on major boxing matches (including the "Rumble in the Jungle" in Oct 1974 between Muhammad Ali and George Formen) and also Sportsnight between 1975 and 1985. He was a regular member of the Grandstand team during the 70s and 80s.

David Vine - a very likeable guy who presented many sports-themed shows inc. Match Of The DayRugby SpecialSki Sunday and Superstars.

BBC Grandstand Sports Annual 1980

 

Helen Rollason, BBC Sports Presenter (1993)
Helen Rollason became Grandstand's first woman presenter and presented suring the early 90s. Sadly, she died from cancer on 9th August 1999 aged just 43.
Des Lynam in 1986
Des Lynam in 1986

Sports Included in Grandstand

Major British sporting events were included as part of Grandstand, including The Grand National, Wimbledon and The Boat Race. When these weren't on, then there would be a variety of sports including rugby union, racing, cricket, and athletics, depending on the time of year, of course.

At 4.35 it was time for Final Score (this is still going strong!) which actually started in 1958. Before the actual football results were read out (along with a few other sports results such as rugby union) the latest football scores would be fed onto the screen (one letter at a time) on the teleprinter - this became the vidiprinter during the 80s. I used to get pretty excited when I saw Aston Villa's latest score slowly appearing on the screen!

For the full classified football results, Division One always came first (this became the premiership in 1992) and in the harsher winters that we used to experience there would often be a lot of "match postponed" announcements due to frozen pitches or deep snow, particularly in the Scottish leagues.

Between 1965 and 1985, the sports programme had to compete for viewers with ITV's World Of Sport, and it's biggest competition came from the popular wrestling matches between family favourites such as Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. I spent many Saturday afternoon's at my Gran's house watching these two play-acting with each other - us Brits love a bit of pantomime!

One of the best-remembered moments of Grandstand (for myself, at least!) was actually the theme tune. Composed by Keith Mansfield, the tune was first used on the opening titles for the edition aired on 11th October 1975. Before this, a tune composed by Barry Stoller was used, and his most famous work is the Match Of The Day theme tune.

The last edition of Grandstand aired on 28th January 2007.
Bob Wilson - Arsenal FC goalkeeper (1963 to 1974) - Signed Autograph

The controversial conspiracy theorist David Icke - 21st Dec 1982

BBC TV - Grandstand Sports Annual 1979
Football results screen on Grandstand (BBC1) in 1986
Football results on Grandstand in 1986

Des Lynam and Emlyn Hughes at Wimbledon on May 8th 1986