BBC cancels A Question of Sport after 53 years due to ‘funding challenges’

The BBC has cancelled A Question of Sport due to “funding challenges”, ending the quiz show’s 53-year run on the national broadcaster.

Since it first premiered in 1970, the show has only had five presenters, including Stuart Hall, David Vine, David Coleman, Sue Barker, and, most recently, Paddy McGuinness.

Explaining the decision to bench A Question of Sport, a spokesperson for the BBC said: “Due to inflation and funding challenges, difficult decisions have to be made, therefore Question of Sport is currently not in production at the moment.”

The national broadcaster cited “value for money” for BBC licence fee payers, which has seen the network reshuffle its squad of shows to prioritise high-impact content that drives viewers to BBC iPlayer.

Flintoff (front left) joined McGuinness (centre) on ‘A Question of Sport’


McGuinness, took over as host from Barker in 2021, the same year the BBC replaced long-running team captains Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell with Sam Quek and Ugo Monye.

Guests this season included former England cricket captain Freddie Flintoff, Welsh footballer Ashley Williams, rugby star Danny Cipriani, British sprinter Adam Gemili, and Arsenal football club legend Jens Lehmann all answering questions, alongside Quek and Monye.

Despite the heavyweight lineup, the series failed to resuscitate viewer ratings, with some episodes reportedly drawing fewer than one million people despite the show’s primetime slot at 8pm on Friday.

The Times reported the show was averaging up to four million viewers during Barker’s final few episodes.

However, a source at the BBC advised that this is not the final whistle for the programme; the broadcaster will reportedly retain the Question of Sport brand, with the possibility of reviving the show in the future.

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Barker, who hosted the show for 24 years before she was replaced by McGuinness, previously said she “regrets” the way the BBC handled her exit rom A Question of Sport.

The former tennis pro suggested that, while the BBC wanted her to say her departure was a personal choice, she was replaced by McGuinness as part of a “refresh”.

Sue Barker with Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell (Vishal Sharma/BBC/PA)

(PA Media)

“It is such a shame because, I have to say, that the BBC had told us we were going,” she said, during an appearance on BBC Breakfast last year.

“They wanted to refresh the programme and that is absolutely fine. Everyone has the right to do that. We don’t own the programme… We knew it was going to happen and it was just the way in which it happened and the way it was handled, and the way the BBC sort of wanted me to say that I was walking away from it,” Barker explained, adding that she would “never walk away from a job I love”.

“I don’t mind being replaced. Absolutely fine. That happens. But… I think we regret the way it was handled. I think if we look back on it we could have handled it better. I think the BBC could have handled it better,” she continued.

The BBC last month announced it was retiring its long-running motoring show Top Gearfor the foreseeable future”

Production of the show had been halted since host Flintoff, 45, was taken to hospital in December 2022 after he was injured in an accident at the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey.

Additional reporting on wires.