Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Billy on the Box: Surely it’s a question now of when, not if, for Sue and co?

I’m now well and truly bored with the Olympics. I know, I know, such thoughts are almost blasphemous these days but why can I not just switch on my telly and watch people who aren’t famous for running fast, jumping highest or being the strongest at pedalling and rowing?

A Question of Sport was the main culprit this week, with a Gold Medal Winners special, and I use that last word advisedly, although it did mean that the seats were now filled by sportspeople and not comedians.

“Hello and welcome to a very special edition of a Question of Sport,” said Sue, as we excitedly awaited the arrival of Jess, Wiggo, Mo, Sir Chris, the boxing girl who isn’t Katie Taylor and the wee ginger long jumper.

“Quite simply it has been one of the golden summers (is that not Sting’s real name?) of sport and we are jumping on the bandwagon in a desperate effort to wring out a final dying breath from something that should have been allowed to pass away with dignity years ago.”

Okay, hands up, she didn’t say the second part but with so many gold medal winners busy appearing on every other programme the organisers deserve a gong for barrel scraping.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way, shape or form denigrating the achievements of any gold medallist, that would be approaching treason. After all, Matt Dawson was joined by, in his words, ‘the queen of Eton Dorney and the new king of the velodrome.’

They’d obviously been waiting 12 years to get Katherine Grainger on and Jason Kenny was a welcome addition. Always nice to see the ninth most-famous cyclist in the country.

And then it was Phil Tufnell’s turn.

“There were so many moments at the Olympics we’ll never forget, but these two guys gave me two I’ll never forget,” he said and then two people I’d never clapped eyes on appeared.

For a minute I wondered had I fast forwarded onto the Mystery Guest round by mistake but no, Ed McKeever and Peter Charles were indeed on Tuffers’ side. It may as well have been Mr Ed and Lord Charles.

A question on athletes with composers’ names was a stretch too far for Phil, his knowledge running out at two, with Dawson shouting out ‘Bonzo’ as a clue.

“I thought you meant Bach,” simpered Sue as the answer came up, to which Dawson replied, “No, it was Beethoven.” Either way, the show has gone completely to the dogs and I find that really sad. Indeed, I was asked possibly the hardest question I was ever asked in the office the other day — ‘how would you describe Sue Barker?’

I can’t give you the exact answer I gave, but in between the expletives a young whipper-snapper in on work experience admitted that he had never heard of A Question of Sport.

This shook to my very core, for two reasons. One, what has happened to the youth of today, and two, and more worryingly, does this mean that in 45 years time James Corden and co will still be on our screens with A League of Their Own? That’s simply terrifying.

Back to the present and the real Mystery Guest round, which was ridiculously easy — the boxing girl who isn’t Katie Taylor and the wee ginger long jumper — but there was worse to come with a game of beach volleyball and hilarity ensued.

However, by that stage I’d lost the will to live and even women bouncing about in skimpy garments couldn’t persuade me to watch on.

It was never like this back in the seventies when Emlyn Hughes and Bill Beaumont reigned supreme, David Coleman wore snazzy jumpers and the only royal caught in a unusual position on tape was Princess Anne.

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