Grandstand was great, but World of Sport’s inferior budget forced it to trawl the fringes and shine a light on the theatrical underbelly of British sport. This was its secret weapon, and Dickie Davies wielded it consummately
- Dickie Davies’ death at 94 was announced on Sunday by Jim Rosenthal
- BBC provided the more obvious crown jewels of sporting coverage
- ITV offered windows into other worlds, trawling for the exotic and the bizarre
In the days before remote controls made channel-surfing possible, Saturday afternoon TV in the late 1960s and early 1970s came down to a straight choice: Frank Bough and the polish and gravitas of BBC’s Grandstand on the one hand, or the quirkiness of Dickie Davies and ITV’s World of Sport on the other.
Both were excellent, but if the BBC provided the more obvious crown jewels of sporting coverage, then ITV offered windows into other worlds.
Log-rolling and barrel-jumping were straight out of North American pioneer mythology, cliff-diving had been something Elvis Presley pretended to do in Fun in Acapulco and drag-racing featured futuristic cars with little parachutes borrowed from the Apollo space mission splashdowns.
The wrestling was everyone’s favourite. We would roar with laughter at Les Kellett’s antics, entertain each other by grunting like Mick McManus and yell encouragement at whoever was ‘trying’ to remove Kendo Nagasaki’s mask.
Grandstand was great, but World of Sport’s weakness — an inferior budget — forced it to trawl the fringes for the exotic and bizarre, and to shine a light on the dark, theatrical underbelly of British sport. This was its secret weapon, and Dickie Davies wielded it consummately.
Dickie Davies passed away aged 94 on Sunday and was a pioneer for ITV’s sport coverage
Davies helped to shine a light on the dark, theatrical underbelly of British sport on World of Sport
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