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Grandstand farewell - an update

Claire Stocks | 11:47 UK time, Monday, 29 January 2007

Grandstand came off the air for the final time on Sunday after 48 years of sports broadcasting on the BBC.

The show's passing was cause for plenty of comment and debate in the media over the weekend.

By and large the general mood was similar to how one might mourn the death of a fine old great aunt, with affection and sadness but some resignation that its time had come.

We highlight some of the views here.

Andrew Baker in Monday's Telegraph says the decision to axe it makes sense in today's digital age of television viewing:

Sport now arrives, like trains, on "platforms" - not just on terrestrial television, but cable, satellite, on the internet, live to your mobile phone. And, like trains, it arrives at all sorts of unpredictable times. The notion of sitting down after lunch on a Saturday and having the best stuff presented to you by the BBC over three predictable hours is now redundant. Which, no matter how sentimental you may feel about dear old Grandstand, makes sense. There is absolutely no logic in yoking together the gentle precision of indoor bowls with the rap soundtrack of snowboarding, separated on yesterday's Grandstand by five minutes. You don't have to be a marketing genius to realise that the crossover between the two audiences is close to zero.

Giles Smith, in his TV column in the Times, takes a similar standpoint commenting that decision to end the programme was a necessary one:

Increasingly, sport was happening elsewhere, at other times, on other, dedicated channels. Grandstand began to look like a cash-strapped cornershop, clinging on grimly as the hypermarkets opened all around it. The amazing thing is that it managed to stay in business so long. We'll miss a lot about it, of course. But the truth is we've been missing a lot about it for years. Its enforced passing yesterday was bound to feel sad, like the passing of any loved and respected institution, but it was, in many ways, a merciful release. Or maybe, not. Grandstand wasn't what it was, but then neither was Saturday afternoon - no longer straightforwardly the focal point of a sporting week.

One of the show's most famous presenters, Des Lynam agrees in an interview with the Sun that Grandstand's time was up:

In the Fifties and Sixties people were happy to sit down at 1pm on a Saturday for five hours of watching whatever sport was put in front of them. Today, there is much more choice when it comes to live sport. I know one or two of my colleagues will rue the passing of Grandstand and I can understand how they feel. But I like to look forward and to me the Grandstand format had run its course. People are no longer impressed by the Grandstand banner - they want to watch, say, the FA Cup Final, not FA Cup Final Grandstand.

And a leader in today's Independent pays tribute to the contribution that the much-loved show made to sports broadcasting over the last half-century.

But for any programme to have survived almost 50 years in a media and sporting climate that has changed out of all recognition is a singular feat. Grandstand was past its view-by date; some would say well past. But its diverse menu introduced many to sports they would never otherwise have encountered. In an age when we can choose to watch any one of a whole range of sports at our convenience (but football's money often calls the shots), it would be a pity if Grandstand's variety were lost. There is merit in offering armchair athletes, along with what they already know and love, something less familiar as well.

Many of you told BBC Sport's director, Roger Mosey, what you thought of the decision in his post on Friday.

And on the BBC News website, readers were invited to send in their views. Reaction was mixed - a summary is below:

Good riddance! Now, let's get more David Attenborough on TV so people can actually learn something
Armchair Inactivist, Blackburn, United Kingdom
The BBC ought to be ashamed of having let it simply fade away. Its demise is only a sad reminder of what it used to mean to millions of families across the country for whom the BBC and Grandstand WAS sports television.
Graeme Johnston, Chackmore
People seem to be moaning about the show being axed but admit to not watching it much anymore. The same thing happened when Top of the Pops was axed!
FireFoxed, United Kingdom
The fact that most comments suggest that the theme tune, rather than content, is the thing they will miss most says it all really.
Reg Shoe, Ankh-Morpork
The right decision by the BBC. If like me you grew up watching sport on Saturdays then the end of Grandstand is truly the passing of an era. However, with 'sport-on-demand' rapidly becoming a television reality it's time to face up to challenge of the new armchair sports people. Onwards and upwards.
John Ormrod, Hampshire

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