Grandstand: An Obituary

So, farewell then, “Grandstand”. The BBC’s flagship sports programme closed for business after nearly forty-nine years on Saturday, so today we’re going to take a moment to say goodbye to it once and for all. The BBC had initially announced that the programme was to be scaled down and phased out by 2009, so the news of its sudden termination was a surprise, to say the least. This was, after all, the programme that brought us, among many, many other things, the 1966 World Cup final, the famous 1973 Barbarians vs New Zealand rugby match and harrowing live coverage of the Bradford fire and the Hillsborough disaster. It’s right up there with “The Sky At Night” and “Panorama” as being amongst Britain’s oldest and most venerable TV shows. Somebody, however, was in a hurry, and so it has come to pass that it has gone from our screens quite suddenly and, since the BBC apparently can’t be bothered to see it off, I might as well have a go myself. The programme was launched in October 1958, as a Saturday afternoon package of highlights mixed with live action. You can hear the original theme music here. By the early 1970s, the formula of the programme was set. It all started with “Football Focus”, a lunchtime preview of the weekend’s football action. This was followed by horse racing (usually six...

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