Saint and Greavsie

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Saint and Greavsie
Country of origin UK
Broadcast
Original channel ITV
Original run 3 October 1985 – 21 April 1992

Saint and Greavsie was a double act consisting of ex-footballers Ian St John and Jimmy Greaves. It is best remembered for the ITV programme, Saint and Greavsie, that ran from 1985 to 1992.[1] Previously the duo had presented "On the Ball" in the World of Sport show.

Format[edit]

Although Greaves and St John had been contemporaries in the 1960s football world, they had never played for the same club and were English and Scottish respectively. However, a bond was quickly struck up and a long-running partnership soon began. Greaves had only recently won his battle against alcoholism when he began co-presenting but he was forever cracking his unique brand of gags that would have the audience either laughing or crying. Jokes about Scottish goalkeepers were a particular favourite, in a bid to wind up straight man St John.[2]

The show was normally broadcast shortly after 12noon on a Saturday afternoon, a point when much of its target audience were on their way to a match. At various points of the 30-minute show there would be goal round-ups, with ITV having exclusive rights to Football League action from 1988-1992. Other main components of the show included features on clubs from both England and Scotland and a look ahead at the main games from the weekend (with particular emphasis on any live match ITV would be showing).

The series initially had a simple opening sequence showing a rotating rudimentary CGI-image of a football pitch revolving several times, before a still of the two presenters popped up at the end; the theme tune was initially identical to that used on the "On the Ball" segment of World of Sport. In later years, the introduction to the show began with St John and Greaves as cigarette cards from their playing days on the opening credits, and the theme tune was changed for a piece named "Aztec Gold" composed by Silsoe, which at the time was also used as the theme tune for ITV's The Big Match.

Although the show predominantly dealt with football, it also covered sports such as cricket and boxing, with interviewees including Mike Tyson and Chris Eubank. When Greaves was ill at Christmas 1990, he was replaced in successive episodes by a puppet modelled on him from Spitting Image, a show he had often featured on.

In 1991–92, the Rumbelows Cup draw was broadcast on Saint and Greavsie. The quarter-finals were drawn by Donald Trump when the duo were out in America for a programme looking at how the USA was preparing for World Cup 1994.

End of an era[edit]

Football on ITV was dealt a major blow in the summer of 1992 when they lost the rights to the newly formed Premier League to Sky Sports. At the same time, Saint and Greavsie was axed from the schedules.[2] The final programmes were broadcast from Sweden during Euro 92, with the pair singing "This could be the last time" in the final credits and making a series of jokes at Sky's expense.[2]

The pair did not present under this name again but continued to link up together and remained in touch.[2] They occasionally presented Champions League preview shows together and both remained employed by ITV for several years. Together, they hosted the discussion show Sport in Question.[2] St John continued to be used by a co-commentator for the ITV network until the arrival of Jim Beglin, while Greaves continued to appear as a pundit and co-commentator in the Central region until the mid-1990s, when he was gradually phased out in favour of Ron Atkinson. Away from their work Greaves and St John rarely met due to living in Essex and on the Wirral respectively, but Greaves said they had a "lovely relationship".[2]

In 2004, Saint and Greavsie were studio guests in an episode of Fantasy Football Euro 2004, when they were described as the "godfathers" of football comedy by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel. In earlier years they had been parodied in sketches on the show. St John criticised Baddiel and Skinner in his autobiography and interviews, following their appearance on the show.[3]

Other formats[edit]

In 1989, Grandslam Entertainment released Saint and Greavsie, a football trivia quiz game, on a variety of computer platforms. It was developed by Core Design. In 2006, Saint and Greavsie released a DVD quiz, featuring retro football action, with a book, Saint and Greavsie's Funny Old Games, having also since been published.

On 22 May 2009, Setanta Sports announced that Saint & Greavsie were reforming their double act to star in a FA Cup Special on Cup Final Day 30 May. The Saint & Greavsie FA Cup Special was broken up into three separate mini-programmes appearing throughout the build up to the Everton v Chelsea final.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bagchi, Rob (2009-03-11). "Rob Bagchi: Saint and Greavsie rescued ITV football for us in the 1980s | Sport". Guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Allen, Matt (2007). Where Are They Now?. Highdown. pp. 75–76. ISBN 978-1-905156-42-9. 
  3. ^ Anna Kessel (2009-05-29). "Saint and Greavsie say football on TV is now no laughing matter | Football". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  4. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (22 May 2009). "Saint and Greavsie to reunite for FA Cup final special on Setanta". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 7 January 2012.