Fighting Talk

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Fighting Talk
Other names FT
Genre Sports panel game
Running time 50 minutes (approx)
Country UK
Language(s) English
Home station BBC Radio 5 Live
Georgie Thompson (2014–present)
Josh Widdicombe (2014–present)
Jonathan Pearce (2013–2014)
Matt Johnson (2013–2014)
Colin Murray (2006–2013)
Christian O'Connell (2004–2005 & 2013–2014)
Johnny Vaughan (2003–2004)
Writer(s) Giles Boden
Producer(s) Simon Crosse
Charley Copsey
Mike Holt
Recording studio MediaCityUK (Salford Quays), Salford, Greater Manchester
Air dates since 4 October 2003[1]
No. of series 13 (List of episodes)
Opening theme Sabotage by Beastie Boys
Website Official website
Podcast Fighting Talk Podcast

Fighting Talk is a topical sports show broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live during the English football season.

Its first series was broadcast in October 2003, presented by Johnny Vaughan. The second series was presented by Christian O'Connell. The longest-serving presenter has been Colin Murray, who took charge between 2006 and 2013. The show currently has two presenters (Josh Widdicombe and Georgie Thompson) who each take charge of proceedings when available. The show is broadcast on Saturday mornings for an hour between 1100 and 1200. The programme's twelfth series began on 16 August 2014. It is based on the ESPN Show Around The Horn.[citation needed]

The show won a second Gold Sony Radio Academy Award in the sports programme category in 2011. Judges paid tribute to the old-fashioned music hall style of the show and Martin Kelner's many anecdotes.[2]


Either Widdicombe or Thompson (or a stand-in host) chair the show where four guest pundits are invited to expound in turn, preferably with wit and knowledge, their views and opinions on a series of topical sporting events. Most sports are thrown into the fray but there is a strong emphasis on English top-flight football and other sports covered by the British news media.

The penultimate discussion topic on the show is known as 'Any Other Business' (AOB) where the guests are given the opportunity to talk about anything they wish, and encouraged to comment on topics or issues that have irked, annoyed or incensed them in past week, regardless of relevance to sport. There have been several notable AOBs; a particularly good example of wit and rant was Steve Bunce's recollections of an interrupted stay at a London hotel.

Listener participation[edit]

The programme is interspersed with "listeners' homework" – listeners are asked to submit answers to one of the questions posed to the panel (normally question two) by e-mail or text message. During the course of the show, the presenter reads out the "best" responses, with the most entertaining answers being read out the following week. Homework questions often involve likening sports people to objects, animals or concepts: for example, "If footballers were houses, what would they be?"

Prizes were introduced to encourage respondents; in the first series, the prize for the best entry was a "soundbite" recording of a commentator or sportsman — being a brief piece of sporting commentary involving the winning respondent or recollections of the respondent's sporting prowess (both fictional). Contributors included Chris Waddle, Barry Fry and Jonathan Pearce. In keeping with the Park incident (see below), the results of this competition have been rigged on occasion — for example, Giles Boden (writer — see below) is a previous "winner"; his prize was a soundbite recorded for him by the former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri.

During the second series, a tangible prize was introduced in the form of a Fighting Talk mug – and as an added incentive, listeners were offered the chance to appear as guest pundits. Jim Thane was the first listener to be invited to compete live on the show, appearing in series two with Steve Bunce, Greg Brady and Dominic Holland. Richard Seymour was the second guest listener, appearing in the third series with Steve Bunce, Bob Mills and Kriss Akabusi. During the fourth series, Christopher Briggs joined a panel consisting of Will Buckley, John Rawling and Bob Mills.

Prizes were suspended during series 5 due to the BBC's blanket ban on hosting phone-in competitions, which came as a result of various phone-in and interactive voting scandals.[3] Listeners were still encouraged to text and e-mail in answers by the presenter, immediately followed by a sarcastic remark from Colin Murray about Blue Peter, one of the BBC's programmes accused of misleading viewers. When considered in the context of the arbitrary nature of the show's scoring systems, the suspension seems somewhat ironic, particularly given that presenter corruption is tolerated to the point of being encouraged.

As of the 19th of September 2009 the listeners have been asked to submit a question, rather than answer the set question. The listener who is selected to pose the question is also given the power to award two bonus points to any panellist of his or her choice.

Defend the Indefensible[edit]

In order to decide the week’s ultimate winner the two highest scoring pundits are invited to "Defend the Indefensible". Each pundit is called to vigorously support a topical theme for twenty seconds that is either distasteful, politically incorrect, plainly wrong, self-derisory or entirely contrary to the pundit's known opinions. Previous examples of defending the indefensible include "I’d gladly drink a pint of Maradona’s liposuction fat for Comic Relief"; "cricket has been cheapened now common people and ladies have jumped on the bandwagon" and "I believe the annual Oxford-Cambridge boat race should take place in Iranian territorial waters".

"No matter what I say, you have to defend it for 20 seconds. For the people here in the [Liverpool Echo] Arena, a little bit like when we did the booing and we didn't mean what we were saying? This is like that round. We don't mean what we're saying, the whole point is that you have to defend the indefensible. I'm going to get it tattooed across my forehead because every week someone complains… This is awful, you have to defend it."

Colin Murray, Fighting Talk's Big Day Out, Saturday 1st June 2013

For all the responses are often outrageously comedic, due to some being extremely near the knuckle, hosts have still had to reiterate on many occasions that the statements are not meant to be taken seriously in any way. Indeed, more often than not they actually have the intention of mocking those who would hold such an abhorrent view; even so, despite repeated clarification, complaints are still a fairly regular occurrence.

The shortest ever DTI was recorded on 26 January 2008, when Jim Jefferies lasted just five seconds after being asked to defend the statement "Just like Ashley Cole, vomiting is a vital part of my lovemaking". Jefferies responded, "Fair enough, because sometimes you need lube". Presenter Colin Murray immediately implied it would be Jeffries' last regular appearance on the show. However, this was not the case, with Jeffries appearing on FT on 18 October 2008, in a typically controversial performance, and made one last appearance on a pre-recorded comics special that aired on Boxing Day 2009.

On occasion, the DTI round has been specifically designed for the pundit who has to answer. Examples include propositions posed to former England football manager Graham Taylor and Henning Wehn. After the resignation of Sven-Göran Eriksson from the position of England Manager, Taylor was invited to defend the statement "The next England manager should be Graham Taylor". In a later series, Wehn was asked to defend "The German football team should wear PVC Nazi outfits as a show of support to Max Mosley", in reference to the latter's court battle following revelations about Mosley's personal life.

Finalists who refuse to take part in the round forfeit the round and by extension, the game — for example, John Rawling refused to criticise his wife's cooking on the Christmas 2006 show, with the win being awarded to fellow panellist Des Kelly. Rawling was again asked to defend the proposition exactly a year later, and did so successfully. Two episodes of Fighting Talk were won by pundits who did not have to participate in the DTI round:

  • On 17 September 2005, Bob Mills won a show after fellow finalist Steve Bunce refused to defend "John Rawling's debut as ITV boxing commentator was mediocre at best"; Bunce was replaced in the final by John Rawling, who was subsequently unable to respond to the proposition "Boxing's so gay, but that's why I like it".
  • In November 2006, Trevor Nelson was awarded a win after finalists Ian Stone and Clare Balding's efforts were deemed too terrible to win.
  • Martin Kelner became the first (and to date, only) person to be ejected from the DTI final on 25 April 2009 because Colin Murray claimed he was "being a wuss" in offering his place in the final to John Oliver.


Guests earn arbitrary points for 'good punditry', but lose them if they waffle, use predictable clichés, or attempt to ingratiate themselves with the host. Scoring is accompanied by a variety of appropriate and humorous sound effects.

Cash Register Kerching One Point (this sound is actually cribbed from the video game Sonic the Hedgehog, and can be heard at the end of a level)
Arrow hitting the target Two Points
Hallelujah chorus Three Points
Be-uuwww minus One point

In the 24 January 2009 show, a new sound effect (being the start up music from Microsoft Windows XP) was introduced, to indicate a 'fact' that had been blatantly pulled by the contestant from Wikipedia or other online source.

Disordered and by no means fair, the system is sufficiently flexible to accommodate the presenter’s moods, likes and dislikes and personal bias.. Pundits can start the game on positive scores, with points having been awarded for complimentary comments about the presenter; by contrast, many start on minus scores, with points having been deducted due to interruptions or negative comments about the presenter.

At the beginning of series four, Colin Murray introduced the "Golden Envelope" round. The presenter places his or her own answer to a particular question into an envelope prior to the show and poses the question to the pundits during the second half of that show: matching the answer in the envelope is worth ten bonus points.

Presenters can also 'fix' the outcome of show results for personal gain. Colin Murray arranged for Richard Park to win a show in 2007 because Park was a judge in the TV show Comic Relief does Fame Academy, in which Murray was a contestant. At one point, Park was in last place, but Murray put him into the final and gave him the win, without listening to the Defend the Indefensible round answer from fellow contestant Jim White.

Murray also decided an FA Cup Third Round show on 3 January 2009 in favour of former Wimbledon FA Cup Final goalscorer and Northern Ireland national football team manager Lawrie Sanchez, after both Sanchez and fellow finalist Martin Kelner failed to meet the 20 seconds required in Defend the Indefensible. On 9 November 2013, Bob Mills finished the show on zero points after a ridicule of Southampton's season left host Christian O'Connell aghast, and thus took all his points.


The first series began in October 2003 and was hosted by Johnny Vaughan.[1] The inaugural show featured a panel consisting of Greg Brady, Will Buckley, Bradley Walsh and the eventual winner, Stan Collymore. After the first series ended in April 2004, Vaughan left to present the Capital FM breakfast show.

Christian O'Connell was the show's second presenter,[4] and completed a successful second series from 2004–2005, culminating in a gold award for the show at the 24th Sony Radio Academy Awards.[5] He left to focus on his new Virgin Radio breakfast show at the end of 2005. His last show was in December 2005, and featured his four favourite guests — John Rawling, Steve Bunce, Greg Brady and Bob Mills. That show also briefly featured the wives of three of those panellists, who were invited to answer (via telephone) a question on behalf of their husbands. Bob Mills' wife was unavailable for comment.

Colin Murray started presenting the show in February 2006.[6] He was the host for 7 years until he left in July 2013 as he moved from the BBC to present on Talksport, though he still hosts the BDO World Darts Championship on BBC Two.

Vaughan came back for 'one week only' on 10 March 2007 because Murray was appearing in the reality television programme Comic Relief does Fame Academy. However, he has since made two other guest appearances as chairman while Murray has been away. The show has also had a number of other guest presenters to cover for when the host is unavailable, including well-known British broadcasters such as Dickie Davies, Kelly Dalglish, Jimmy Tarbuck, Gabby Logan, Terry Wogan, Phil Williams, and Nick Hancock.

Producer Mike Holt has also had to present the show for one question when Colin Murray could not bring himself to adjudicate a round questioning his favourite team by asking "What's wrong with Liverpool Football Club?" Murray left the studio for the duration of the question.

Simon Crosse has produced every series of Fighting Talk.

The 'Stuart Hall incident'[edit]

Fighting Talk made national news with an episode broadcast on 12 March 2005. The panel consisted of Danny Kelly, Will Buckley, John Rawling and Stuart Hall. The presenter, Christian O'Connell, asked the panel "What other former all-conquering nations, clubs or individuals would you like to see have a renaissance?". Stuart Hall responded "Zimbabwe", and criticised what Robert Mugabe had done to the country, saying "...don your flannels, black up, play leather on willow with Mugabe cast as a witch doctor. Imagine him out at Lords casting a curse; tincture of bat's tongues, gorilla's gonads, tiger's testicles...". Shortly afterwards, O'Connell was heard to ask studio staff "Are we still on air?" During the same show, Hall was also asked for his opinion on sporting stars acting as role models for young people. In his response, he defended swearing by footballers suggesting that "your average 10-year-old can instruct you in oral or anal sex".[7][8] The incidents were widely reported in the national press, although neither attracted significant criticism from listeners.[7]


Pundits are generally British sports journalists, sportspeople or stand-up comics. However, some non-UK pundits have made appearances, notably Greg Brady (who participates regularly by ISDN from Toronto, Canada). On 27 October 2007, Greg made an appearance in the studio due to being in London for the first NFL regular season game to be played outside the USA. He has made appearances in the UK every year since then, including the 24 October 2009 broadcast which came live from Hull.

Other non-UK contestants include Australian comedians Charlie Pickering and Jim Jeffries, English-born New Zealand comedian Al Pitcher and German comedian Henning Wehn. American comic Doug Stanhope made an appearance on the 13 September 2008 episode, as he was touring Britain at the time. Adam Richman, host of Man vs. Food, appeared on 17 November 2012, but did so on ISDN rather than in studio.

Nicknames in Fighting Talk[edit]

Certain pundits who have appeared on the show have been allocated nicknames. These tend to be allocated to regular pundits or those who have made previous notable appearances.

Real Name Nickname
Kriss Akabusi Ak, Ak, Ak, Ak
Dougie Anderson 11 Answers, The Husky Voiced Scotsman, And while we're at it, "3 Answers", Ando
Roger Black Roger Pretty Boy
John Bishop "We'll have no Bashing of the Bishop"
Greg Brady Sleepy Eyes, The Beast, "Our American-Canadian" , Morning Glory
Mark Bright Under-rated, Mr. Brightside
Will Buckley Son of Psycho, The Mild-Mannered Man of Fighting Talk, The Meek
Steve Bunce The Aubergine, The Shirt, The 4th BeeGee, The Seagull, Birdman, Buncey
Steve Cram Lights Out
David Croft David "I'm Going For The Obvious" Croft
Andy Goldstein The New Martin Kelner
Stuart Hall Crayzee Talker!!
Ian Holloway The Lunchbox Legend
Hazel Irvine The Female Martin Kelner
Iyare Igiehon Ninja
Jim Jeffries The Foreigner
Des Kelly The Fonz, The Bristol Fonzerelli, The Fleet Street Fonzerelli, The Fruit Machine
Martin Kelner King of the One-liners, The Thinking Man's Martin Kelner, King of the Bad-Gags
Steve Lamacq Lammo
Katharine Merry Two Sandwiches
Bob Mills The spokesman for lower league football
Sue Mott Her with the teeth
Eleanor Oldroyd The First Lady of Fighting Talk
Gavin Peacock Fu Manchu
Richard Park The Name-Dropper
Jeff Probyn The Lion
John Rawling Psycho, J.R., The Boy Rawlings, Sir John of Rawling
Ian Stone Ian "Heart Of" Stone, The Cypriot Warrior, Stand Easy for Ian Stone, The Officer of Comedy
Tom Watt "An Annoyance", "Crow-face", "The Interrupter"
Mark Watson "100% Mark Watson" "Metrosexual"
Henning Wehn In it to win it, Schnell Schnell Jawohl

Pundit themes[edit]

Pundits on Fighting Talk are given their own themes, which are played during their introduction at the beginning of the show. Most make some kind of comedic reference to the relevant pundit.

Pundit Theme
England Kriss Akabusi When You're Smiling by Bing Crosby
England Terry Alderton theme from Terry and June
England Brian Alexander Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Eric Idle (from Monty Python's Life of Brian)
Wales Keith Allen
JamaicaEngland John Barnes
World in Motion by New Order
(England's 1990 World Cup song, which was written by Allen; Barnes was introduced with the portion of the song which includes his rap)
Scotland Dougie Anderson Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler (later Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler)
A new theme was offered during Series 8, but is no longer used: Who Let the Dogs Out? by Baha Men
England Charlie Baker Theme from Fawlty Towers
Spain Guillem Balagué Macarena by Los Del Río
England Clare Balding
England Cornelius Lysaght
Galloping Home theme from The Adventures of Black Beauty
England Caroline Barker Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond
England Martin Bayfield theme from Police Academy
England John Bishop theme from Bread
England Roger Black Pretty Fly (for a White Guy) by The Offspring
CanadaUnited States Greg Brady Put Your Hands Up 4 Detroit by Fedde le Grand[a].
A new theme was offered for Series 6: The Hockey Song by Stompin' Tom Connors.
Scotland Kevin Bridges Bridge over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel (previously an instrumental version of same)
England Mark Bright Mr. Brightside by The Killers
England Phil Brown Golden Brown by The Stranglers
England Will Buckley Country House by Blur
Stacy's Mom by Fountains of Wayne or Not Fair by Lily Allen
I Fought the Law by The Clash
Theme from L.A. Law
England Steve Bull Wooly Bully by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs
England Steve Bunce theme from Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em
closing theme from Only Fools and Horses (preceded by him saying "Put it out, right out")[b]
England Tim Clark theme from Mastermind
England Gideon Coe theme from Why Don't You?
Scotland Mike Costello The Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana by Pietro Mascagni (theme from Raging Bull)
England John Crace Vertigo by U2
England David Croft
England Jake Humphrey
The bridge of The Chain by Fleetwood Mac (as used in BBC's Formula One coverage)
England Tom Davies East Bound and Down by Jerry Reed
England Matt Dawson theme from A Question of Sport
I Don't Want to Wait by Paula Cole (theme from Dawson's Creek)
England Simon Day Beautiful Day by U2
Debutant pundits Funeral march[c]
Republic of Ireland Neil Delamere "NEIL DELAMERE!" voiceover à la The X Factor (no music)
England Mick Dennis Theme from The A-Team
AustraliaEngland Tony Dorigo Soul Glo jingle from Coming to America
Scotland Jill Douglas Chocolate Girl by Deacon Blue
England Dion Dublin Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty
England Andy Dunn Mirror Man by The Human League
England Gail Emms Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves by Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin
A new theme was offered for Series 6: Crying by Roy Orbison
England Barry Fantoni (or  Italian contestants) Italian National Anthem
England Les Ferdinand theme from Airwolf
England Darren Fletcher Jive Talkin' by The Bee Gees
Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler
Brimful of Asha by Cornershop
England Kevin Garside Viva Las Vegas by Elvis Presley
England Bobby Gould Crazy by Patsy Cline
Gold by Spandau Ballet
England Jennie Gow Jenny Was a Friend of Mine by The Killers
England Perry Groves We All Live in a Perry Groves World by Arsenal Fans (to tune of "Yellow Submarine" by The Beatles) [1]
England Stuart Hall Bean Bag by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, well known as the theme from It's A Knockout, which Hall used to present on BBC TV
Germany Dietmar Hamann The Song of the Diddy Men by Ken Dodd
England Austin Healey Tiny Dancer by Elton John
Isle of Man Rob Heeney Light and Tuneful by Keith Mansfield (opening theme of the BBC's Wimbledon coverage)
Just a Song About Ping Pong by Operator Please
England Dean Holdsworth theme from The Littlest Hobo
England Dominic Holland No Limit by 2 Unlimited
England Matt Holland Tulips from Amsterdam by Max Bygraves
Theme from One Foot in the Grave
A new theme was offered for Series 8: Wot? by Captain Sensible
England Ian Holloway Theme from Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere
England Iyare Igiehon Volare by Dean Martin (with Colin singing "Iyare" over the chorus)
England Matt Jackson Jackson by Johnny Cash and June Carter
Australia Jim Jeffries theme from Home and Away
Down Under by Men at Work
Democratic Republic of the CongoEngland Eddie Kadi I'm Alright by Kenny Loggins
England Danny Kelly theme from ITV's World of Sport
EnglandRepublic of Ireland Des Kelly theme from Happy Days
theme from Desmond's
sound of a fruit machine
England Martin Kelner A drumroll-cymbal rimshot – also regularly used when he cracks a one-liner
Hammer to Fall by Queen (used on the Series 9 Football League special on 6 August 2011)
A new theme was offered for Series 11 after Kelner's recovery from sarcoma removal surgery: Survivor by Destiny's Child
England Steve Lamacq Mack the Knife by Bobby Darin
Return of the Mack by Mark Morrison
Jersey Graeme Le Saux theme from Bergerac
England Former Liverpool F.C. players Ferry Cross the Mersey by Gerry & the Pacemakers
You'll Never Walk Alone by Gerry & the Pacemakers
Scotland Kenny Logan Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins
Northern Ireland Paul McVeigh Mellow Yellow by Donovan
England Chris Martin Jump by Kris Kross
Republic of Ireland Andrew Maxwell Maxwell's Silver Hammer by The Beatles
England Katherine Merry Christmas music
The Lady in Red by Chris de Burgh
Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush
England Bob Mills theme from Steptoe & Son
closing theme from Only Fools and Horses
A new theme was offered for Series 6: Tijuana Taxi by Herb Alpert, the song Leyton Orient run out to.
England Danny Mills[d] Theme from Casualty
Danny Boy as sung by Johnny Cash
England Ian Moore More More More by The Andrea True Connection
A live version was used of this theme, but the studio recording was used for Series 11
England Sue Mott All Woman by Lisa Stansfield
You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate
A new series was offered for Series 6: All the Young Dudes by Mott the Hoople
Scotland Pat Nevin Sunshine on Leith by The Proclaimers
England Brian Noble Heartbeat by Buddy Holly
Republic of Ireland Dara Ó Briain Theme from The Sopranos
England Eleanor Oldroyd The Lady in Red by Chris de Burgh (later given to Katherine Merry)
She's a Lady by Tom Jones
A new theme was suggested for Series 6: Hail to the Chief
Folding Stars by Biffy Clyro
EnglandUnited States John Oliver Living in America by James Brown
New York, New York by Frank Sinatra
England Gary O'Reilly The Liberty Bell March by John Philip Sousa (as heard on Monty Python's Flying Circus)
"Let's hear it for Gary O'Reilly!" by The Miami Dolphin Cheerleaders
(The clip fades out as O'Reilly exclaims "Oh, ladies!", to which Colin has been known to often make reference)
England Richard Osman Billericay Dickie by Ian Dury
Scotland Richard Park (or Scottish contestants) Bagpipes
England Mike Parry Theme from Z-Cars (Everton anthem)
England Andy Parsons You're the Voice by John Farnham
Shipbuilding by Elvis Costello
A new theme was offered for Series 8: Mandy by Barry Manilow
Scotland Colin Paterson Hooray for Hollywood instrumental
England Gavin Peacock Opening guitar riff of Turning Japanese by The Vapors
Australia Charlie Pickering theme from Neighbours
England Natalie Pinkham Theme from The Pink Panther
New Zealand Al Pitcher Haka of the All Blacks
England Tayo Popoola Boom Boom Boom by The Outhere Brothers
Colin sang 'Tayo' over the 'Way-o — Way-oooo' section of the track, which rather fell flat on its face
England Jeff Probyn Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
MGM lion roar
England John Rawling O Fortuna
theme from Psycho
theme from Dallas[d]
England Brian Reade Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life from The Life Of Brian

Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson

England Jon Richardson Oompa Loompa, Doompa-Dee-Do theme from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory[f]
Short People by Randy Newman
England Rachel Riley The Life of Riley by The Lightning Seeds
EnglandScotland Ian Robertson World in Union (Rugby World Cup theme)
England Leroy Rosenior Theme from The X-Files
Fame by Irene Cara
Northern Ireland Lawrie Sanchez Mexican Hat Dance (though he's Ecuadorian on his father's side of the family)
Wales Robbie Savage Suicide Blonde by INXS
England Paul Sinha Music featured in Blue Oyster Club scenes from Police Academy films
Sinnerman by Nina Simone
England Jim Smallman Afternoon Delight
England Alec Stewart and other cricketers Dreadlock Holiday by 10cc
(especially the line "I don't like cricket; I love it".)
England Ian Stone Hava Nagila
Theme from Curb Your Enthusiasm
Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits
England Matthew Syed Boris Johnson quote from after the 2008 Olympic Games: "And I say to the Chinese, and I say to the world: ping-pong is coming home."
EnglandWales Iwan Thomas theme from Chariots of Fire by Vangelis
England Michael Vaughan Michael, Row the Boat Ashore
England Ian Walker Walk On By by Dionne Warwick
England Mark Watson When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob Bobbin' Along by Al Jolson
England Tom Watt Crowd chanting "You Wot?"[g]
themes from British soap operas[h]
Theme from Escape to Victory by Bill Conti
GermanyEngland Henning Wehn theme from Dad's Army
England Jack Whitehall theme from To the Manor Born
England Josh Widdicombe Infinity by Guru Josh Project
England Jim White White Lines by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
(Usually played with Colin saying "Bass!" during the intro)
  • a The theme referenced Brady's previous job working for WDFN radio in Detroit. The first use of the theme coincided with Brady experiencing the worst slump of his FT career, 5 defeats in a row. The run of bad form was attributed to the Detroit theme so it was changed to "It's Raining Men" for one show. The change did not help and Brady lost. For the next show he was returned to the Detroit theme. He won that show thus breaking the curse in a manner not unlike the New York Rangers winning the Stanley Cup in 1994. Despite Greg Brady's saying, he actually won his first show with this theme tune, although this was with guest host, Gabby Logan. For Brady's first appearance following his return to his native Canada in 2008, the theme tune was changed to Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On; later appearances featured other Canadian references including "Weird Al" Yankovic's Canadian Idiot.
  • b During the early part of Colin Murray's tenure as host, Bunce and Bob Mills alternated between the two themes, given their roots in London's East End. Sometimes Bunce would be introduced by the theme from Some Mothers Do 'Ave Them, and Mills the closing theme from Only Fools and Horses.
  • c This is due to a 'rule' introduced by Murray that no new pundits are allowed to win their first show. By contrast, several pundits have won their first show with Colin in the chair — notably Henning Wehn — although fewer debutantes have won on their first outing under Colin than the previous presenters.
  • d No relation to Bob Mills
  • e This is an assumed reference to Rawling's patriarchal character on the show and his initials, "JR" bearing similarities with J. R. Ewing, one of the principal characters from the former television series Dallas.
  • f This was due to Richardson's presumed status as the shortest Fighting Talk contestant, although as was confirmed in the next episode that Steve Lamacq was in fact shorter.
  • g The version previously used was recorded at a football ground; as of Watt's first appearance of Series 9, the chant recorded during the 2011 Champions Final is now played.
  • h These theme tunes are ironic as Tom Watt appeared in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. This is further compounded when he is introduced as Colin Murray purposely mistakes the famous soap character Tom Watt portrayed. Examples include Hayley Cropper and Mandy Dingle. However, from 15 March 2008, the introductory tune was replaced with an audio clip of a crowd chanting "You wot? You wot?".

Music and sound effects[edit]

The show's distinctive theme tune comes from the track Sabotage by Beastie Boys, which first appeared on their 1994 album Ill Communication. The segment used is from the middle of the track. The song was replaced with a different version due to contractual reasons in 2010, but made a one-off appearance on the 5 May 2012 episode as a tribute to MCA (aka Adam Yauch), who had died the day before aged 47 and to whom that episode was dedicated.

The music usually playing while the host gives the scores is the theme from the British TV show The Professionals, and during the final segment Defending the Indefensible, the theme from the Rocky series, Gonna Fly Now, is used.

Other sound effects used throughout each show include the various pundit themes; the theme from Allo Allo; Planet Funk's Chase the Sun; the German, Italian and American national anthems; the Indiana Jones theme; The Lonely Man from The Incredible Hulk, and the Grange Hill theme tune among others.

Fighting Talk in other media[edit]

The show made a brief appearance on television (2004, BBC2, in an early evening slot) presented and written by Johnny Vaughan and was true to the popular radio format. The scoring sound effects were juxtaposed with complementary images shown on large screens. At one stage negotiations were believed to be under way for Colin Murray to host a live style format in the Camden-based MTV studios which would air on Sky One during the close season.

The programme has also made outside broadcasts through the years, a number of which coincided with the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony that December.

Fighting Talk: Any Other Business[edit]

A one-off, politics-based show — using the name of Fighting Talk's 'Any Other Business' round — was broadcast on Sunday 17 December 2006 at 7pm, presented by Richard Bacon. A run of four further shows billed as Fighting Talk: Any Other Business were broadcast between 15 July and 5 August 2007. The host was the original Fighting Talk presenter Johnny Vaughan and guests included Alan Duncan, Diane Abbot, Stephen Pound, Arabella Weir and Robin Ince.[9]

Internet resources[edit]

A detailed breakdown of individual show statistics (prepared by listeners) up to the end of the 2009–10 series is available via Google Spreadsheets.[10]

The most popular and well known fan-site is located on the social networking website Facebook, under the name 'The Fighting Talk Appreciation Society'. It is occasionally mentioned on the show by the presenter.

In 2009 the show introduced a "secret" group on the social networking website Facebook, called 'FT316' for listeners to post their suggestions for question 2. Originally they did not give the name of the group on air, but a link was sent to anyone who requested it by email. This idea was scrapped after a couple of shows and now the presenter just tells listeners to go to the page, giving them the name of it on air. The 316 comes from the number of one of the sound effects in the BBC library, later found to be one number out from what it should be.

For Fighting Talk listeners, a fan made website has surfaced which provides all Fighting Talk episodes (there are a few missing Season 1 and 2 episodes, most notably the first edition from 4 October 2003). The website is known as 'Fighting Talk Files'; however, it has now been closed down by Worlds End Productions, makers of Fighting Talk.


Fighting Talk became available as an mp3 download in October 2004, with a podcast version following as part of a BBC trial in February 2005. Each show can be accessed for download on the BBC website in either format for one week after broadcast. Much comment is made by the presenters about the performance of the podcast in the iTunes chart (in either the Sport or Comedy categories, or the overall podcast chart) – with a previous best of number 5 in the overall chart (series three).

Following the Russell Brand Show prank telephone calls row, the BBC introduced a system of editing 'controversial' content of some shows before making them available as podcasts. The three most noticeable edits to date have been made to DTI rounds — the first involved the show recorded at Goodison Park (see above), where Pat Nevin was asked to defend the statement I'd gladly swap every game I played for Everton and Tranmere for just one night with Wayne Rooney's granny. Nevin's original answer in the live broadcast included the statement "sloppy seconds from Wayne Rooney just sounds like pure class to me" but the line was cut for the podcast. The second involved the show broadcast on 16 May 2009, when Bob Mills was asked to defend a statement involving ex-cricketer Chris Lewis's appearance in court in relation to cocaine smuggling. Both the DTI statement and Mills's response were removed from the podcast. Mills was also edited out of the podcast of the 1 June 2013 broadcast, after he was asked to defend the statement "Give me 20 minutes with her and I’m pretty sure I could turn around Clare Balding." The statement, as well as Mills's response, was removed from the podcast before its official release, although fans made available an unabridged version recorded from DAB radio, via a number of sources, in a protest against the notoriously right-wing British newspaper, the Daily Mail. The number of downloads of the uncut version reached four figures.

Several podcasts in series 6 contain bonus audio clips that can be heard after several minutes of silence at the end of the broadcast recording. The sections generally consist of studio chatter between the host and panellists, often recorded during off-air audio level tests. The most notable can be found on the podcast recording of the show broadcast on 28 March 2009, when panellist Perry Groves can be heard singing along to Love Really Hurts Without You by Billy Ocean.


The first Fighting Talk tie-in book, Fighting Talk: Flimsy Facts, Sweeping Statements and Inspired Sporting Hunches, edited by regular pundit Will Buckley, was published by Hodder & Stoughton on 2 October 2008.

Fighting Talk specials[edit]

A political Fighting Talk 'special' hosted by regular host Christian O'Connell – featuring MPs Lembit Opik, Steven Pound and Alan Duncan, as well as regular pundit, Bob Mills — was broadcast prior to the 2005 UK General election. Another one, hosted by Richard Bacon instead of regular host Colin Murray, was broadcast on the Monday before the 2010 elections. It featured comedian Mark Watson, the Labour Party's Caroline Flint, the Liberal Democrat Edward Davey, and the then-Conservative Party chairman (and subsequently Communities Secretary) Eric Pickles. On both occasions, the Labour politician has won the final.

At the end of the third series, Colin Murray presented a special World Cup edition of Fighting Talk. The fifth series ended with a run of four Euro 2008 specials.

On 24 March 2007, Colin Murray hosted a 'women only' edition of Fighting Talk. The panel featured regular Eleanor Oldroyd alongside three débutantes – Gail Emms, Hazel Irvine and Sue Mott.

At the end of the series from the 2008/2009 season there was a pre recorded 'correspondents' show to finish off the season; a similar special was broadcast at the end of the 2010/2011 season as well.

On 26 December 2009, there was a pre-recorded comedians show. The panel featured regulars Bob Mills, Jim Jeffries, John Bishop and débutant Dara O'Briain.

On 22 May 2010 a Fighting Talk Champions League special was aired. Martin Kelner who finished 5th in the rankings appeared in place of John Bishop who 'had a gig in Ireland' the night before. The three other panelists were Bob Mills, John Rawling & Dougie Anderson, with Mills earning the championship. The following week, the seventh series ended with a World Cup special, featuring Mills, Rawling, Danny Mills (no relation to Bob), and former Arsenal midfielder Perry Groves.

On Boxing Day 2010 a Fighting Talk Tag Team Special was held, pitting four teams against one another. The teams were Martin Kelner & Will Buckley, "Bobby Darin" (Bob Mills & Darren Campbell), Eleanor Oldroyd & Katharine Merry and Simon Day & Steve Bunce.

On 28 May 2011, the second Fighting Talk Champions League special came live from the BBC Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House in London. Tom Watt defeated reigning champion Bob Mills to win the championship, while Kelner and Steve Bunce rounded out the panel for the Series 8 finale.

In December 2011 in a Fighting Talk special Pat Nevin and Tony Livesey from Radio 5 Live competed against Steve Lamacq and Shaun Keaveny from BBC 6 Music. The questions covered music as well as sport and the programme was simulcast on both radio stations.

Fighting Talk On The Road[edit]

Numerous episodes of Fighting Talk have been broadcast from venues around the country in front of a live studio audience that include:

2011 Summer specials[edit]

For the first time in the programme's history, Fighting Talk aired a series of programs from three of the major British sporting events held during the summer. The major difference was that these special broadcasts bar the third episode were broadcast live, though not in front of an audience.

  • The first episode came live from Ascot Racecourse (site of the Royal Ascot) on 18 June, with Nick Hancock as compère and Ian Stone, Will Buckley, 5live horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght, and former jockey Jason Weaver on the panel.
  • The second episode of the series aired on 2 July, the final Saturday of The Wimbledon Championships atop Wimbledon's roof garden near Centre Court. Gabby Logan hosted a panel consisting of Robbie Savage, Bob Mills, Martin Kelner, and 2007 Mixed Doubles champion Jamie Murray.
  • The third and final episode in the series was pre-recorded at the 5live studio and aired on 9 July, the weekend of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit. 5live Formula 1 trackside reporter Jake Humphrey served as host and chaired the panel of comedian Al Murray (no relation to regular host Colin Murray), F1 driver-turned-analyst Anthony Davidson, Humphrey's colleague David Croft, and Des Kelly.

See also[edit]

List of Fighting Talk episodes


  1. ^ a b "Johnny Vaughan's Fighting Talk starts on Radio Five Live". BBC — Press Office. 29 September 2003. Retrieved 27 March 2007. 
  2. ^ "TalkSport leads sporting triumphs at radio awards « Sports Journalists' Association". 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011. Kelner 
  3. ^ "At a glance: Shows in TV scandal". BBC News. 5 October 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2007. 
  4. ^ "Christian O'Connell to host Fighting Talk on Radio Five Live". BBC — Press Office. 27 May 2004. Retrieved 13 June 2007. 
  5. ^ "The Sports Programme Award". Sony Radio Academy. Archived from the original on 18 May 2006. Retrieved 8 March 2007. 
  6. ^ "Colin Murray takes over Fighting Talk on Five Live". BBC — Press Office. 31 January 2006. Retrieved 27 March 2007. 
  7. ^ a b John Plunkett (17 March 2005). "BBC defends sports pundit on a sticky wicket". London: Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2 February 2007. 
  8. ^ Ian Herbert (18 March 2005). "Bard of the airwaves Stuart Hall stuns show with 'black-up' rant". The Independent. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  9. ^ Plunkett, John (7 June 2007). "Vaughan back at Radio Five Live". London: Media Guardian. Retrieved 7 July 2007. 
  10. ^ Fighting Talk statistics at Google Spreadsheets

External links[edit]