A Question of Sport axed by BBC after more than 50 years - two years after sacking Sue Barker as host

15 December 2023, 23:00

A Question of Sport axed by BBC after more than 50 years - two years after sacking Sue Barker as host
A Question of Sport axed by BBC after more than 50 years - two years after sacking Sue Barker as host. Picture: Alamy/BBC

By Christian Oliver

A Question of Sport has been axed by the BBC after 50 years of broadcasting, the corporation has announced.

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The BBC blamed "inflation and funding challenges" as reasons for forcing "difficult decisions" to be made, as they announced the halt on production Friday night.

Falling viewing figures were also noted as informing the decision to cease production - raking in only one million viewers despite airing at 8pm on Fridays.

It comes a year after former tennis pro Sue Barker was replaced as host of the long-running show by presenter Paddy McGuinness.

England Cricket legend Phil Tufnell and rugby star Matt Dawson were also replaced in the lineup by Team GB hockey pro Sam Quek and former England rugby union international Ugo Monye.

Announcing the decision, a BBC spokesperson said it was "not the final whistle" and suggested the programme could make a come back in the future.

They said to show was "not being cancelled - it is just not in production at the moment".

Sue Barker poses after she was made a CBE by the Duke of Cambridge at Windsor Castle on February 22, 2022 in Windsor
Sue Barker poses after she was made a CBE by the Duke of Cambridge at Windsor Castle on February 22, 2022 in Windsor. Picture: Getty
Paddy McGuinness hosts the annual Christmas Lights Switch-on in Albert Square, Manchester, 4th November 2016. Credit:  Russell Hart/Alamy Live News.
Paddy McGuinness hosts the annual Christmas Lights Switch-on in Albert Square, Manchester, 4th November 2016. Credit: Russell Hart/Alamy Live News. Picture: Alamy

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"Question of Sport is not going to appear on any other channels," a spokesperson told BBC News. "It is the BBC's intellectual property."

The first episode of the popular sporting quiz show was broadcast in 1970 and was first presented by David Vine.

The show took a two-year break in the late 1970s before returning to screens in 1978 - and has remained in constant production ever since.

At its peak in the 1980s, the show pulled in 19 million viewers. This dropped over the decades and Sue Barker's last show aired with four million watching.

Rugby union's Bill Beaumont, England cricket's Ian Botham, and ex-footballers Ally McCoist and Emlyn Hughes have also had stints as team captains during the show's 53-year reign.

Barker had been critical of the BBC's approach to parting with her as presenter of the show.

She told BBC Breakfast last year: "The BBC sort of wanted me to say that I was walking away from it.”

“And yet, I would never walk away from a job I love. I don’t mind being replaced. Absolutely fine. That happens … I think if we look back on it we could have handled it better. I think the BBC could have handled it better."

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