Saturday 16 December 2023

So Farewell then, 'Question of Sport'. My part in its downfall

So after 53 years,
Question of  Sport is being axed by the BBC because of the squeeze the Conservatives government has applied to the corporation's finances while it let inflation rip.

Back in 1969 or 70, I took part in the pilot programme that led to what was then A Question of Sport  being commissioned. At the time I was working as a radio outside broadcasts producer in the BBC's North Region, based in Manchester. Out of the blue, I got a phone call asking if I could go to what were then the corporation's television studios in the city at a converted church in Dickenson Road (pictured), which was also the birthplace of Top of the Pops.

The programme was presented by David Vine, and among my fellow panellists was the distinguished football reporter Dennis Lowe.

I remember getting a question about a piece of film featuring a runner, who I correctly identified as the great Czech athlete Emil Zatopek and also correctly said that at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki he had won the 5,000 metres, the 10,000 metres and the Marathon in his first ever run over the distance. No one, incidentally, has ever managed to repeat his treble.

In spite of my stunning performance I was never invited to take part in one of the many transmitted programmes, with the producers unaccountably preferring panellists such as Henry Cooper, Brendan Foster, Fred Trueman, Emlyn Hughes and Princess Anne.

Monday 11 December 2023

Assassins' Deeds: Hit the Road, John!

Assassins' Deeds roadshow reaches Stanmore on 15 January as I talk to Stanmore & District u3a about my history of assassination from ancient Egypt to the present day.

Expect stories about the earliest assassination known to history, the killer in a bear's costume, the president whose bodyguard went for a drink while he was murdered, the near misses that spared Napoleon, Hitler and Queen Victoria, and much, much more.

Assassins' Deeds is published by Reaktion Books