There aren’t many days when I’d think about the BBC TV show A Question of Sport but when handed this idea to think about it, I was amazed.

I had no idea when I last saw it. I didn’t even know what day it’s shown.

…I would drop what I was doing,

A Question of Sport was for me, part of the sports shows I would watch each week. It might sound strange but every time it was on I would drop what I was doing, sit down in front of the TV and watch Phil Tufnell’s team duke it out against Matt Dawson’s assemblage of sporting guests. It was about sports and I enjoyed playing them, even if I never, ever, had an answer to any of the questions Sue Barker fielded.

It fitted into a roster of panel shows that the BBC would spurt out (Have I got News for You, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Mock the Week) and each one adhered to the same formula: presenter asked questions, guests would respond with a funny phrase/mock the other guests, eventually come to an answer and head off to the next segment.

…I was a bit confused.

And now I’ve watched A League of Their Own and once it ended I was a bit confused.

It’s not as fun as A Question of Sport was; it doesn’t have that dedication (and education) with sports trivia that made the BBC show so interesting. The sports angle feels like a completely random tangent; a chance to deliver some smutty jokes and perform some vacuous entertainment before moving on to the next subject that has an even more tenuous link to sport than the one that preceded it. Judging by the guests they’ve had on (Rio Ferdinand, Claire Balding and Tinchy Stryder) it has found success and into its second season it’s gained a foothold, but that strikes me as a little odd. It is a show with a foot in comedy and more of a foot in sports celebrity than it does in actual sportspeople.

…brought a degree of success… 

And while that’s nothing bad (a different formula that has brought a degree of success) it suggests that something has changed in terms of what audiences want. Perhaps they want scurrilous comedy with a tiny bit of sports content; perhaps they are interested in what chart number Enrique Inglesias’ music video (starring Anna Kournikova) came in at (number six). But it had me longing for A Question of Sport’s comedy and actual test of knowledge. A League of Their Own feels like a saner version of an eccentric Japanese game show but nowhere near as deliriously funny (even though John Bishop tries his best). In the end it comes down to whether people like the traditional, old format, or this new fangled, hip one. I’d opt for the former.

Oh, and give me Sue Barker than James Corden any day.

A Question of Sport is on BBC, Monday 7:30pm; A League of Their Own is on Sky 1, Friday 10pm

Images courtesy of BBC and SKY


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