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Grandstand is a British television sport programme. Broadcast between 1958 and 2007, it is one of the BBC's longest running sports shows, alongside BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Its first presenter was Peter Dimmock. There were only four main presenters of the programme during its long history: David Coleman (who took over almost immediately from Dimmock), Frank Bough, Des Lynam, and Steve Rider. Changes in the structure of the programme during its last few years, however, meant it did not have a regular main presenter during this time.

Among the more occasional hosts were Alan Weeks, David Icke, Clare Balding, Hazel Irvine, Bob Wilson, David Vine, Dougie Donnelly, Harry Carpenter, John Inverdale, Tony Gubba, Helen Rollason, Ray Stubbs and Sue Barker.

The last editions of Grandstand were broadcast over the weekend of 27-28 January 2007.


Creation in 1958

It was created by Paul Fox and Bryan Cowgill and launched on 11 October 1958. The show was one of the most recognisable on British television, dominating Saturday afternoons on BBC One (just called BBC Television before 1964) and covering nearly every major sporting event in Britain such as the FA Cup final, Wimbledonmarker, the Grand National and the University Boat Race, as well as major international events like the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and the FIFA World Cup. A Sunday edition, simply named Sunday Grandstand, launched in 1981 and ran on BBC Two, from time to time including the Ski Sunday and Rugby Special sections.

Theme tune

Despite the impression given by a number of TV nostalgia websites, the show's iconic theme tune, composed especially for the programme by Keith Mansfield, was not the original theme tune, only being first heard on 11 October 1975. The original tune was "News Scoop" by Len Stevens, which was used until 1971 and can be heard in the Cult TV section of the BBC's own website. From 1971 to 1975, another, little-remembered tune was used. A re-recorded version of the theme was also introduced in 1999, but complaints caused it to be quickly reverted back to the original. [63389]. In 1977, the band The Motors had single called Forget About You which borrowed heavily from the theme tune.

Final Score

In the late afternoon, with many Football League and Scottish Football League matches approaching full-time, the famous Final Score section would come on. This covered not only the results from all the matches, but also gave the results of the football pools. Perhaps the section's most famous feature was the Teleprinter, a digital device at the bottom of the screen which printed out the results as they came through, with the characters in each result appearing one by one.

With Final Score now a programme in its own right, modern-day technology is used for displaying the results, but this still emulates the original typing system. Remarkably, only two people have regularly read out the classified results on Final Score in its history: the Australian Len Martin (from the first programme until his death in 1995) and Tim Gudgin.

Competition from ITV

Between 1965 and 1985 Grandstand faced competition from ITV's World of Sport, but ITV eventually decided to drop Saturday afternoon sport in favour of other programmes.

Later years and demise

In its final few years, the show was rarely hosted from a studio and as such there was no longer a main presenter. The show tended to be broadcast from wherever the main feature that day was taking place, and the host would be associated with that feature - for example, if it was snooker then Hazel Irvine would host, if it was racing or rugby legaue then it would be Clare Balding, and if it was rugby union it would be John Inverdale.

Football Focus departs company

In August 2001 the Football Focus section, having been the first feature on Grandstand since 1974, separated to become a programme in its own right. This meant that Grandstand's start time was now 1300 rather than 1215.

Following the success of Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday programme featuring reports from the afternoon's football matches, the BBC introduced a section on Grandstand along similar lines, called Score, which is also now a stand-alone programme. It is similar to Final Score, but comes on when most matches are at half-time.

2006 announcement

On 24 April 2006, the BBC announced that Grandstand would be gradually phased out after nearly half a century, due to the increasing use of interactive services and the need to meet the challenges of the digital, on-demand world. This had been hinted by the dropping of the "Grandstand" title from the BBC's coverage of the major international sporting events, like the World Cup as well as that year's Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games.

It was originally intended that the show's cancellation would take place in 2009; however, with little or no notice, this was brought forward to 28 January 2007.

After Grandstand ended

The final Saturday edition of Grandstand was broadcast on 27 January 2007, and the last edition of all after 48 years was broadcast the following day, 28 January 2007, a short tribute to the history of the show forming its final feature. Sport still features prominently on the BBC's programme schedules on Saturday afternoon as well as on BBC Red Button, the interactive service available on digital television.

Historic, noteworthy or bizarre live events broadcast


  1. Roger Mosey on plans after Grandstand
  2. Sobers six sixes cricinfo
  3. April Fool's day fight - unbroadcast version
  4. April Fool's day fight - fit for broadcast version


  • The term Grandstand also refers the main seating structure for spectators at a sporting event - after which the programme was named.

See also

External links

Video/Audio clips

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