Has the final whistle been blown on What Happened Next?
In recent weeks many viewers of A Question Of Sport have been commenting on Twitter and other sites that they miss the 'What Happened Next?' round and are wondering why it is no longer a regular feature in the programme. This blog is my way of trying to respond to those comments and explain why it has only appeared in a handful of shows over the past 12 months.
'What happened next?’ Barely a weekend goes by without a sporting correspondent somewhere in the UK referring to it in their commentary when a mistake or blooper takes place. It is equally common to hear it on the amateur sports fields of the country. It is certainly the case where I play club cricket when an easy catch is dropped.
The famous round on A Question of Sport has been a crowd favourite since the early days of the programme back in the 1970s. To be perfectly honest when we look back at some of those early shows the What Happened Next? footage wasn't exactly side-splittingly humourous. Early examples include a Manchester United match when the teams saw Bobby Charlton frozen in time as he is about to send a cross over into the box...what happened next? Was there a streaker? Did the goalkeeper's shorts fall down? Did the referee cop one in the face? No to all those, the rather tepid answer was that Denis Law headed in a rather run of the mill goal. A more innocent time perhaps?
Over the years the round developed and fast became a beacon of light-heartedness amid a sea of sporting trivia. During the ‘80s and ‘90s most viewers can remember Botham, Beaumont or McCoist coming up with all manner of possibilities to the outcome of the frozen sports footage. The sports involved became far more varied and the teams and people involved came from all four corners of the globe. I remember one of my first jobs as a researcher on the show (probably in late 1999) was to track down and find the footage from an international football match involving Hong Kong and Macao. I also remember the 2002 Commonwealth Games for some reason being a gold mine of sporting blunders.
However in recent years with the advent of 24-hour News along with YouTube, Twitter and other social media sites these incidents, no matter where in the world they come from, are all over the internet and television within minutes. Recently there was an interruption in a Swiss League football match where a rodent invaded the pitch and was chased around by the players before eventually biting one of them on the finger.
Quite simply this is the kind of incident that What Happened Next? was made for. Within 24 hours of this game being played the video was a YouTube phenomenon, people's Twitter feeds were full of links to the story and the player involved had been interviewed on radio and television. The problem with using this footage in the quiz is once we have recorded a show there is normally a 3-4 week period before transmission, sometimes longer. By which stage the world and his wife will have seen the clip countless times, making our show look very dated.
Another problem is that some of the biggest Tweeters are sports people, none more so than our captain Matt Dawson. So the probability that they will have seen it, or retweeted it, by the time they are on the panel is high. I had already accepted that funnies from the Premier League, 6 Nations, Wimbledon or any of the major sporting events were no longer possibilities – their profile and coverage is simply too great. However when that sphere of exclusion starts to include Swiss football then our options do start to become very limited.
As the Series Producer I am desperately keen to still try and include WHN? within the show whenever possible. Maybe we will have to dig further to find gems like this golf clip from the Women's European Tour.
We are not throwing in the towel on What Happened Next? just yet.…
Gareth Edwards is Series Producer of A Question of Sport, the next episode is broadcast on Wednesday 17 April, on BBC One.