1 9 6 5 – 1 9 8 5 (UK)
World of Sport was created in January 1965 as a Saturday afternoon rival to Grandstand.
The show – compiled for ITV by London Weekend Television – tried valiantly to compete with its BBC rival for 20 years before finally throwing in the towel.
Although as an overall package it was never on terms with Grandstand (largely because the BBC controlled all the major events), World Of Sport did enjoy a sizable following for its minority sports, particularly horse racing, and for convincing the public that wrestling was a sport and not merely a woman’s alternative to Bingo.
Commentator Kent Walton, a former disc jockey who first covered wrestling back in 1955, certainly convinced himself that it was genuine even though we all knew that the Terrible Turk and the Masked Madagascan both came from Rochdale.
World Of Sport was a team effort involving most ITV companies, with studio facilities and programme production provided by LWT in later years.
Its first frontman was Eamonn Andrews (assisted by a team of John Rickman (the gee-gee’s), Peter Lorenzo (football results), Ian Wooldridge (cricket) and Freddie Trueman, Martin Locke and Jimmy Hill.
Probably the presenter most readily associated with the programme was Dickie Davies who took over in 1968 and remained in charge until the show was cancelled in 1985. Fred Dineage was Davies’ relief presenter.
For many years the running order featured football to start, followed by horse racing and the likes of snooker, darts and motorsports, with wrestling taking over the second half of the programme and leading into the results service at around 4:45 pm.
Some events were screened under the umbrella subtitle of International Sports Special, which embraced anything from show jumping and water skiing to Australian Rules football, Angling (!) and arm wrestling.
In the early days, Fred Trueman and Ian Wooldridge were specialist contributors to the programme, and Peter Lorenzo previewed the days’ soccer. When the football spot was re-titled On The Ball, Brian Moore and Jimmy Hill from The Big Match were drafted in as hosts.
Ian St John and Jimmy Greaves were the last football pundits, and when World Of Sport was cancelled their slot survived as a separate programme entitled Saint and Greavsie.
On The Ball was revived as a show in its own right in 1998 with presenters Gabby Yorath and Barry Venison.
World Of Sport was the pioneer of multi-course racing coverage as an all-action alternative to one-card racing. An accumulator based on the winners of all seven featured races on the ITV Seven segment became a popular bet.
Trilby-hatted John Rickman took charge of racing affairs for many years, and also seen were John Oaksey, Ken Butler, Brough Scott and Derek Thompson, with commentaries by Tony Cooke, John Penney, Raleigh Gilbert and Graham Goode and results from John Tyrrel.
Other commentators included Dave Lanning (darts and speedway), Tony Green (darts), John Pulman (snooker), Adrian Metcalf (athletics) and Reg Gutteridge (boxing).
Dickie Davies died on 19 February 2023, aged 94.
Ian St John