50 Years of World Of Sport, ITV1

by | Sep 13, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

A perfect pantheon devoted to the endeavours of the past half-century’s sporting deities (or at least those contracted to ITV).

What to say if you didn’t like it

Like scrutinising effluent-thick sewage throb from an exit pipe into the pure oceans; look, there’s artistic world cycling covered in grey grime!

What was good about it?

• The utterly absurd sports, that give a huge distortion to the interests and pastimes of 70s folk. The most bizarre activities were:

Target diving – darts but with humans diving into marked areas of swimming pools.

Hovercraft racing – hovercrafts were big in the 70s, the modern-day equivalent would be mobile-phone jousting.

Log rolling – largely responsible for the “check shirt” atrocities of 1978, in which the fashion sensibilities of a generation were forever tainted.

Grass skiing – accountable for a thousand fold increase in elastoplasts in urban Britain circa-1977.

• Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out.

• The background attention to detail in the modern-day mock up of the World of Sport studio that Dickie was fronting. One man was donned in National Health glasses, which for lovelorn teenage boys once had the same petrifying effect on girls as Medusa’s stare had on Greek heroes.

• The bizarre sequence in which Jimmy Hill instructed Raquel Welch on the finer details of Association Football as they watched a Chelsea match. Of course, this was in the halcyon days before Chelsea put their ticket prices up beyond the financial means of a Hollywood superstar.

• Saint And Greavsie in which the loveable laughing Scot and the former England legend who tarnished his reputation by becoming a Tory, innovated the humorous side to football that, we were told, continues to manifest itself in Soccer AM and Fantasy Football. Whatever your views on S&G, we’re inclined to adhere to this perspective simply as it proves that football didn’t begin in 1993 as Sky would have you believe.

• Bob Colston, the football results reader who could inflect his voice to imply the result of a match simply through his sonorous intonation of the home team’s score. Alternatively, you could just skip ahead of him and read the result for yourself.

• The Evel Kneivel/ Eddie Kidd stunt bike wars.

• When Eric Morecambe appeared alongside Dickie Davis for a Christmas Eve edition and proceeded to cause havoc, making Dickie “corpse” on many occasions.

• Kevin Day talking about the Christmas Eve edition also reminded us of the adversarial hostility which once existed between the BBC and ITV, where each would only refer to their rival as “the other side”.

• The cameras on the coaches of the Cup Final teams as they travelled to Wembley proved beyond any doubt that every single footballer from the 70s, even those precocious recent school leavers, all looked over 35-years-old.

• The “professional” wrestling section. We’re not sure what was better – Mick McManus and Jimmy Savile continuing the pretence that the sport was somehow

authentic, or the brief, harrowing shots of feral old ladies in the audience baring their teeth like wolves protecting a kill.

What was bad about it?

• Rory McGrath’s narration and script were both mostly fine, except for the occasional semantic crime. “No brainer” is a phrase used only by rotund executives who wear their trousers so tight their flabby stomachs try to re-enact the Great Escape each day, and who smile only when they’re delivering bad news. “Close but no cigar” is the most meaningless phrase in the language, and is even scorned as tawdry by chimpanzees learning their first words of English. “Beautiful game” we’ve been over before. But worst of all was “leftfield”, which is another of those slack-jawed, moronic, pus-ridden abominations culled from baseball such as “stepping up to the plate”, “getting to first/second base” etc, “curve ball”, “straight ball”, “touch base”, “three strikes”, “home run”, “ballpark figure” and “known hitter”. If our friends across the Pond wish to integrate those sayings into their vernacular that’s great as it’s part of their culture, but over here baseball is less popular than incest. And you’d expect people to use their imaginations and devise a cricket equivalent, especially after winning the Ashes, such as trading “googly” for “curve ball”.

• Dickie used the phrase “shilling”; only those drawing their pension or with a curious fascination for “old money” has any idea what a “shilling” is; indeed those under 25 don’t even know it was a monetary unit. At least show conversion tables alongside the fiscal verbiage.

• For the Christmas Eve special, Dickie presented with an improvising Eric Morecambe, Dickie was wearing a crimson die that looked like it had just been soaked

in lamb’s blood.

• The coverage of the 1982 FA Cup Final, where someone in production had got over-excited about their new computer technology and produced an ostentatious title sequence more suited to a public stoning.

• Freddie Starr on Cup Final day dressed as Hitler in “comic” Nazi regalia – you wonder how many tasteless, unfunny jokes had to be slaughtered in Garry Bushell’s back yard to breed this hateful spawn of crudity.

• Torvill and Dean – an interminable wait on Death Row made flesh.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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