For many sports fans, the next best thing to playing the sport itself or watching the big match unfold is taking in a TV programme inspired by it. Game shows lend themselves to this category of media very well, since the question-and-answer format of them allows viewers at home to guess the answer and involve themselves in the action.
With that in mind, we’ve listed our top TV game shows for sports fans below. Some of these are unfortunately no longer on air, but can be unearthed by trawling through the archives, while others are still going stronger than ever – but all are hugely entertaining for sports fans of all stripes.
A Question of Sport
One of the longest running shows on British television, A Question of Sport has been a BBC stalwart since 1970. It features several regular rounds covering questions and tasks across various sports, including the Picture Board, the One Minute Round, Mystery Guest and Home or Away. It was initially presented by David Vine, who took charge throughout the 1970s before David Coleman anchored the show between 1979 and 1997. His tenure was succeeded by former tennis star Sue Barker, who served as host for a whopping 24 years before finally being replaced in 2021. It is now in the capable hands of Paddy McGuinness.
They Think It’s All Over
This game show takes its name from Kenneth Wolstenhome’s famous commentary of England’s 1966 World Cup triumph, in which he explained… “there are some people on the pitch… they think it’s all over… it is now!” The show started out life on radio with Des Lynam as the host before migrating to TV in 1995 with Nick Hancock assuming presenting duties. He served in that role until 2004, when the show was paused, before being briefly resurrected under the auspices of Lee Mack until 2006. Like A Question of Sport, it featured a number of regular rounds (such as Sporting Bluff, Temper Temper, and Sing When You’re Winning) on a wide variety of sports.
A League of Their Own
This modern take on the classic sports game show format perfected by the two previous picks emphasises comedy more. That’s reflected in the fact that James Corden serves as the series host, while comedians like Jack Whitehall, Romesh Ranganathan and John Bishop are regular panellists. It also features more physical-based tasks than the other two, with participants being asked to complete challenges alongside answering questions. First aired in 2010, it is now in its 17th season and continues to enjoy as much popularity as ever before.
As sports go, darts is perhaps quite a niche one to base a game show on. However, the creators of the show struck upon a novel concept by pairing an amateur darts player with a quizzing buff. The former would pick categories by throwing darts at the board, while the latter would then answer questions based upon it. The format proved to be hugely popular, not least due to the attractive prizes on offer and the charisma of host Jim Bowen. It ran from 1981 to 1995 before being briefly resurrected in 2006 with Dave Spikey as a presenter.
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