World of Sport (British TV programme)

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World of Sport
Dickie Davies - World Of Sport.jpg
Dickie Davies in the World of Sport studio
Presented byEamonn Andrews
Dickie Davies
Fred Dinenage
Steve Rider
Jim Rosenthal
Elton Welsby
Gerald Sinstadt
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes1067
Production locationStudio 5
Running time270 minutes
Original networkITV
Original release2 January 1965 (1965-01-02) –
28 September 1985 (1985-09-28)

World of Sport is a British television sport programme which ran on ITV between 2 January 1965 and 28 September 1985 in competition with the BBC's Grandstand. Like Grandstand, the programme ran for several hours every Saturday afternoon.

Early years[edit]

Eamonn Andrews was the first host and the programme itself was "compiled for Independent Television" by ABC Weekend Television. From the summer of 1968 it was produced by London Weekend Television - under the ITV Sport banner, with the other ITV stations supplying footage of events in their regions. Thames Television took over LWT's responsibilities for Bank Holiday editions. Dickie Davies also took over as host in 1968 and would remain the face of the show until it ended in 1985. Other presenters were Fred Dinenage, Steve Rider and Jim Rosenthal. STV and Grampian occasionally opted out and showed their own version of World of Sport (billed as Scotsport Special) presented by Arthur Montford.

The programme's title was originally Wide World of Sports (much like the US programme), this was changed after about six weeks because all the initial programmes featured sports from within the UK and early Programme Editor John Bromley felt that "Wide" World of Sports would have looked rather silly.[1]


The show included popular segments such as On the Ball (a preview of the day's football action), the ITV Seven (horse racing), and wrestling with commentator Kent Walton. It also showed sports not seen elsewhere, such as women's hockey, netball, lacrosse, water skiing and stock car racing or sports that were not popular with the British mainstream, such as NASCAR and ice speedway. It featured bizarre sports like the World Barrel Jumping Championships, and even death-defying stunts.

It often showed show jumping and other equestrian events, especially in its earlier years, and towards the end of its life it showed snooker extensively. 'Minority' sports were a feature throughout its run. The BBC had purchased the rights to as many established events as it could. A joke of the period was that the BBC were going through the list of sports in alphabetical order and had run out of cash before it reached wrestling which is how ITV got it.

Two sports in particular, ten-pin bowling and kart racing, benefited from television exposure to a British public hitherto unaware of them. Whilst the majority of ten-pin bowling shown from 1965 onwards focused on regional league competitions in the UK, a surge in popularity in the sport in the UK in the mid-1970s led to footage from the biennial WTBA World Championship, and telecasts from the US Professional Bowlers Tour, being included increasingly in later years (Mark Roth becoming the first bowler to convert a 7 - 10 split on television on January 5, 1980 at the ARC Alameda Open in Alameda, California, was possibly the best-remembered of the US telecasts shown on the programme). British stock car drivers such as Barry Lee also greatly benefited from the show's exposure.

The programme also occasionally acquired the rights to genuinely major sporting events, such as the Tour de France and the Ryder Cup. Admittedly this was in 1977 when the United States v Great Britain and Ireland match was regarded as something of a mismatch before Europe became the opposition.

During the football season, the programme would normally finish with the Results Service, which began when the full-time whistles started to go in the day's football matches. Bob Colston read the classified results and he and John Tyrrel who read the horse racing results were the only regular results announcers throughout the duration of World of Sport (although between 1983 and 1985 Elton Welsby began alternating with Colston).

A typical edition would be broadcast between 12:15 and 17:10 and would take on the following format.[2]

12:20 On The Ball - football preview with Brian Moore and in later years Ian St. John and Jimmy Greaves.
13:00 Sports Special 1 - A wide array of sports, often including clips from US show Wide World of Sports. Less prominent sports such as darts, snooker, bowls, water skiing, speedway, rallying and others would also feature. Sometimes Boxing would also be shown in this slot.
13:30 Racing, The ITV Seven.
15:00 Sports Special 2 - see Sports Special 1.
15:45 Half-Time Scores - the half-time scores from that day's football, plus racing results from races that had taken place in the previous hour.
16:00 Wrestling - a mainstay of the World of Sport schedule from 1965 until it ended. Many of the wrestlers featured became household names in the UK and the greatest rivalry was between Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks
16:45 Results Service - all the full-time football scores, match reports and league tables plus the last of the day's horse racing results.

The FA Cup Final also featured on World of Sport - with BBC and ITV often competing for viewers by broadcasting unusual features with early starts to their broadcasts to entice viewers to watch their coverage. The Cup Final was generally the only football match that was shown live on World of Sport. The only other football match that would be shown live on World Of Sport would be the England v Scotland match in the Home International Championship which from 1971 to 1982 was shared with the BBC and the 1984 match which was the final match in the last ever Home International Championship was live only on ITV as part of World Of Sport and Schoolboy England Internationals from Wembley were shown on a exclusive basis and whenever ITV showed a World Cup or a European Championship finals tournament match live and the kick off time fell within World Of Sport's timeslot the programme would be extended examples of this was West Germany v England in the Quarter Final 2nd Leg of UEFA Euro 1972 Scotland v Yugoslavia and the 3rd place play off in the 1974 FIFA World Cup and Poland v Cameroon in the 1982 FIFA World Cup

From the programme's launch until the lifting of restrictions on broadcasting hours in 1972, sports coverage was one of the few programming areas which was exempt from the restrictions. Originally sporting coverage and outside broadcasts were provided with a separate quota of broadcasting hours per year. By the start of World of Sport this amounted to 350 hours per year. This meant World of Sport was a key part of ITV's Saturday schedules, as the five or so hours the programme was on the air did not count to the overall 50 hours a week restriction on normal broadcasting hours.


After a 20-year run, the programme ended on 28 September 1985 because of a change in emphasis at ITV Sport - racing coverage had switched to Channel 4. Wrestling as a programme continued but it was transmitted on lunchtimes at 12.30 rather than teatimes, which proved terminal for the programme which had a primarily working class audience. Work traditionally finished at half day on a Saturday in the UK which deeply affected its audience as they were now still at work during the broadcast. Greg Dyke, in charge of the scheduling felt that sports such as wrestling and darts were "too working classed".[3] Football coverage also continued with previous On the Ball hosts Saint and Greavsie and a results service also aired during the football season.

Theme tune and opening[edit]

World of Sport had a theme tune and opening credits which featured the ITV Sport logo and the programme name as trailing banners from white Piper Super Cub light aircraft. The long running theme "World Of Sport March", used between 1968 and 1983, was composed by Don Harper, a re-recorded version of the tune was introduced in the early 1980s accompanied by a new title sequence opening with a view of the Earth eclipsing the sun.

The advent of computer-generated imagery saw a new opening title sequence appear in 1983 together with a more contemporary theme tune composed by Jeff Wayne, this lasted until the series ended in 1985.

Wayne also composed a new theme tune for the opening and closing credits to the Results Service during its period as a standalone programme between 1985 and 1992. Previously a simple, 10-second musical and visual sting had been used to introduce the Results Service during the World of Sport programme itself.


  • On 11 May 1985, World of Sport switched its coverage to Valley Parade stadium as match commentator John Helm, who had been covering the game for Yorkshire Television, described the events of the Bradford City stadium fire as it unfolded.
  • The comedian Eric Morecambe appeared as a guest on the Christmas Eve edition of World of Sport in 1977 causing mayhem by entertaining and trying to disrupt his friend Dickie Davies' presentation links.
  • The show featured rows of typists sat behind the main presenter, mainly preparing items for the show. This was parodied by French and Saunders in the sketch Sports Report and featured their recurring 'Extras' characters attempting to get their faces on television.


A spin-off programme Saint and Greavsie, featuring Ian St. John and Jimmy Greaves, featuring football news, action and live chat was introduced by ITV on Saturday lunchtimes from 1985 to replace the On The Ball segment of World of Sport, enjoying a successful run that ended in 1992 when Sky Sports gained exclusive rights to broadcast English top-flight football.

From 1985, Wrestling with Kent Walton would follow immediately after Saint & Greavsie, before being dropped in December 1988, only shortly prior to the popularity of the US World Wrestling Federation promotion (now World Wrestling Entertainment) gaining momentum in the UK in that era via coverage on Sky Television plc from early 1989. During this period, matches from Joint Promotions, who previously held exclusive rights to ITV coverage, were supplemented with matches from rival promotion All Star Wrestling. It was originally planned to bring US wrestling to viewers on average of once a month in this slot - three weeks of the UK version and one of the American version - but the US version only appeared on a total of six occasions in the two years that it played in that slot. Between 1992 and 1995, several ITV regions screened rival US promotion World Championship Wrestling's programme WCW Worldwide in the old Saturday afternoon slot, having previously transmitted the promotion as late night viewing. In the mid 2000s, The Wrestling Channel, later The Fight Network, purchased the broadcasting rights to World of Sport's wrestling shows until the channel stopped transmitting. It was then shown on UK satellite channel Men and Movies.

The Results Service also continued as a standalone programme in its own right, presented generally by Elton Welsby, but was dropped in May 1992. The football results continued to feature on ITV for the next few seasons as part of the Saturday ITN Early Evening News bulletin. David Bobin or Graham Miller presented and did so until both presenters defected to Sky Sports at the end of the 1995/96 season.

Live coverage of sports such as athletics, darts, ice skating and snooker also continued to play a part in the Saturday afternoon schedule on ITV for a time, but gradually diminished after a few years.

ITV paid tribute to World of Sport as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations in September 2005.Various tie-in publications including 'World of Sport ' Annuals and a companion book were published throughout its run.

Revival of wrestling[edit]

On 17 October 2016, ITV announced that they would be bringing back professional wrestling, arguably World of Sport's most popular segment. They announced they would be recording a pilot episode on 1 November 2016, being filmed at MediaCityUK in Salford, Greater Manchester. The show featured independent wrestlers such as El Ligero, Grado, and Sha Samuels. ITV also announced that former WWE commentator Jim Ross would call the pilot episode. It aired on New Year's Eve on ITV, where Grado won the World of Sport Championship.[4] The following year on 23 March, Impact Wrestling (formerly known as TNA/Total Nonstop Action Wrestling) announced that they would be teaming with ITV to yet again bring back the show with Jeff Jarrett as an executive producer as a ten episode series. The show was announced to be taping at Preston Guild Hall on 25 May, and 26 May. TNA talents such as Grado and Magnus (in his debut for the series) along with independent wrestlers such as El Ligero, Sha Samuels returning to the series, were confirmed to be part of the series cast.[5] On May 4, 2017 ITV and Impact Wrestling announced that the tapings scheduled for 25 and 26 May at Preston Guild Hall had been postponed indefinitely due to prolonged contract negotiations.[6]

In April 2018 ITV announced World of Sport Wrestling would air a ten-part series later in the year on Saturday afternoons. The shows was taped in Norwich on 10, 11 and 12 May. [7] Jim Ross was involved and neither was Impact Wrestling. World of Sport Wrestling aired from 28 July 2018 at 5pm on ITV until 29 September 2018. A six date live tour of the show took place during January/February 2019.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Daily Telegraph: Obituary of John Bromley: Creator of ITV's World of Sport, which ended the BBC's monopoly". The Daily Telegraph. 6 February 2002.
  2. ^ World of Sport schedule TVTimes 1985
  3. ^ Regal, William (15 June 2010). Walking a Golden Mile. World Wrestling Entertainment. ISBN 978-0743477819.
  4. ^ "World Of Sport Wrestling". ITV Press Centre. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ World of Sport Wrestling to return to British TV screens

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