A Question of Sport – 6 gripes about BBC show

A Question of Sport used to pull in television viewersA Question of Sport was a staple for young sports fans growing up back in the day.

Through former team captains including Bill Beaumont, Willie Carson and Ian Botham, it was the go-to TV sports quiz to test your knowledge. While today’s show is admirably held together by host Sue Barker, it’s an ailing shadow of its former self.

After stumbling through the last decade, A Question of Sport celebrated its 50th birthday in January 2020. The opening show aired on the BBC on January 5, 1970. And the last episode featuring Barker and team captains Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell goes out on UK screens on May 28, 2021.

It’s a remarkable achievement but here are my six gripes as to why A Question of Sport has long been on the wane…

Lack of ‘active’ sports figures

The two teams are made up of three people each. So, minus a captain per side – Dawson and Tufnell – there are four spots up for grabs. But the Beeb are lucky if they attract one currently active sportsman or woman. It’s usually a line-up of former stars.

Contrived, drawn out games

The show’s desire for fresh ideas has floundered. Home and Away questions still provide the spine and Mystery Guest can often be more challenging than years past. But some of the long-winded ways they engineer a situation where Dawson and Tufnell have to jump around on-stage like morons just make for terrible television.

Great shout

In some variation, the cry of ‘great shout’ when getting a question right has been present since the early A Question of Sport days. It’s used excessively now though. The term can perhaps be filed under what media commentators have dubbed ‘The Bantz Years‘.

Is it really a ‘great shout’ when a swimmer answers a swimming question correctly? A jockey striking gold when asked who the speed skating world record holder is – now that’d be a ‘great shout’.


Leading on from the ‘great shout’, comes the humble handshake. These are an endless feature of the modern-day A Question of Sport. The handshake has somehow gone from a comfortable means of greeting someone to an all-encompassing way of showing appreciation for a question well answered.

Failure to move with the times

Since QoS inception, rival shows such as Sky’s A League of Their Own and even ITV’s Play To The Whistle have entered the field. It’s a similar shtick but one which appeals to a younger audience, something A Question of Sport hasn’t done for some time. Young sports fans these days might struggle to name some of the star selections on the BBC show. In 2017, it was documented that just 10% of the audience were aged between 16-34. A sizeable 40% are over 40-years-old.

Late time slot

A Question of Sport used to go out on BBC One at 7.30pm. But with regular ratings winners (mainly soaps) the show was shunted to 10.45pm. I used to watch as a kid but it’s on too late now for many young sports fans. And it can’t be for the oft-quoted watershed fear of bad language – Tufnell’s too busy gyrating to fit any of that in…

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