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Grandstand

1 9 5 8 – 2 0 0 7 (UK)

Wives everywhere threw up their hands in horror on Saturday 11 October 1958 as Saturday afternoons began to be dominated by sport . . . and the BBC show Grandstand.

Conversations and tea were postponed until the teleprinter had churned out the all-important football results.

In the very first edition, presented by Peter Dimmock, some scores didn’t come through at all, and Grandstand couldn’t stay on the air for the late results as The Lone Ranger was waiting. The results were read by Australian Len Martin right from the first edition.

Grandstand once confused pools hopefuls when it gave the half-time scores as final results. And before modern technology, artists used to climb studio ladders to paint the racing results on large boards.

Although the sports covered varied enormously over the years, there was remarkable continuity with the main presenters over Grandstand’s life over nearly half-a-century.

Dimmock was replaced by David Coleman, who anchored the show until 1968. After him came Frank Bough until 1983, and finally Des Lynam and Steve Rider were the main presenters.

Coleman, who was the champion miler of Cheshire at the age of 23, always armed himself with reams of trivia while in charge of the good old teleprinter.

He would know that it was the fourth time that season that Stenhousemuir had lost 4-0 to a side beginning with the letter ‘A’ and that it was now 28 matches since they had drawn 2-2 at home!

He was (in)famous for his unintentional contributions to Private Eye and their “Colemanballs” column. One classic was “and for those of you watching who haven’t got television sets, live commentary is on Radio 2” . . .

Other notable examples included;

  • “That’s the fastest time ever run – but it’s not as fast as the world record”
  • “If that had gone in, it would have been a goal”
  • “This evening is a very different evening from the morning we had this morning”
  • “In a moment we hope to see the pole vault over the satellite”
  • “It’s gold or nothing . . . and it’s nothing. He comes away with the silver medal”

Yorkshireman Eddie Waring (pictured below) did much to encourage the popularity of Rugby League with colourful comments like “an up and under”, “an early bath” and “I don’t know whether that’s the ball or his head. We’ll know if it stands up”.

Grandstand expanded in 1981 to include a Sunday edition and special editions covered events like the World Cup and Olympics.

In 2007 Grandstand came to an end. This was partly in response to the digital age and the need to offer audiences more options.

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