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The inside track on Inside Sport

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Alastair McIntyre | 16:48 UK time, Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Thanks for your comments in the run up to the first show - and thanks to those who have responded following it.

First up - the time slot. Unfortunately it won't change and I know that it is a huge issue among you but the schedulers have it there and despite efforts on our part to try to get an earlier slot, it won't happen and it will remain just after 11pm on BBC One. Anyone of course would want an earlier time but at the end of the day we are on the main channel in the country - and that is great.

And about the show. The studio is intimate and that is what I wanted the new look to achieve and I think bringing the guests closer to Gabby on the sofa also helps too.

Some of you have wanted to know why we have favoured current sportstars as opposed to journalists Des Kelly, Steve Bunce and Tony Livesey?

Well, some may like the change others may not. It's all about opinion.

Jonathan Agnew

I thought Des, Steve and Tony did a good job - I was the assistant editor in the first two series and helped bring the guys on board in the first place. But I think you should always look at freshening things up - change can be good - and bringing in the people I aim to have in the studio will add to the show in a different way, I think.

And yes, there may be times when Gabby does an interview in the studio too - I intend to have variety in the programme and in the studio. I think you should always be flexible and if there is a guest that has very strong opinions, go for it and give them more time.

And also having specialist guests, who have been there and done that and can talk eloquently, I believe is of real value. For example, Jonathan Agnew is coming in on show two this Monday (13 April) to talk about cricket off the back of a piece on the IPL in South Africa.

Finding the right mix is always tricky... to me the guests really need to add to the films and the features, otherwise you could easily produce this programme a la Panorama and just have Gabby doing post produced links into films and then get rid of the studio.

There are many ways you can produce this show - but guests and chat add to the intimacy and more importantly purpose of the show. Also what you have to balance is time. Effectively these shows are 29 minutes from start of titles to the end. In an ideal world, I would like more....

As for Colin Montgomerie on show one... Some of you have pointed out correctly that he wasn't on the show when billed. Well, working in television can be most exhilarating but unfortunately at times frustrating and disappointing.

Monty had agreed for some time to appear on the show - but late last week he pulled out. It was massively disappointing but you have to move on. So, you count to 10 or even 10,000 and have to deal with it and then you have to find a solution.

And with it being show one - you want a big name that has relevance.

Tim Henman

We'd spoken to Tim Henman about coming on the show on 18 May as we are looking at doing a tennis feature. I spoke to his agent Caroline about our predicament as I wanted Tim - who is knowledgeable about so much sport - to come on to replace Monty and thankfully he did. Tim was great - as was Alan Hansen - and talking about how Henman dreaded Saturday afternoon as a player was most revealing.

So, the season is up and running. Do keep your opinions coming in because I really want to know what you think. I intend to have quirky items in there as well as the films and features - any bits of fun (like the top 10 sporting earners) that has relevance we may do - so your thoughts on those are welcome too.

Coming up on the show on Monday is a piece from Matthew on the IPL in South Africa, an interview with Jimmy White and joining Gabby in the studio are Jonathan Agnew and John Parrott.


  • Comment number 1.

    Interesting stuff Alastair, thanks for coming on again to answer some points.

    Firstly I did enjoy the show on Monday night, I do like the new studio and music (although I was one of the few who liked the old music!).

    I agree about the balance between chat and interviews and having a guest relevant to the story (e.g. Aggers on to discuss cricket). But still hope that you will use Des, Tony and Steve at some point.

    For example having Steve Bunce in the studio before the next Ricky Hatton fight and hopefully a Bunce report previeing the fight would be great.

    Also will be not be getting any emails from Gabby each Monday telling us what's on the show?

  • Comment number 2.

    Quick questions:
    - How do we complain/to whom about the timeslot?
    - The replacement of Steve & Des is nothing but a joke. They did a great job of making the show seem real - now it just seems like yet another talking shop. Will Des & Steve be back at all?
    - Do we no longer get the David Croft post-F1 weekend chat?

  • Comment number 3.

    Suggestion for timeslot:

    - Why don't you air it from 19:00 to 19:30 on BBC Three on Monday's, with it repeated on BBC One at 23:05? I think that'd solve the problem perfectly.

  • Comment number 4.

    Re: scheduling. Can't you just lock Huw Edwards in a cupboard or something and hijack the newsroom at 10pm! It's a shame, but I think it's clear from the blogs here you're as frustrated as the rest of us, so it's good to know it's something you've tried to resolve.

    Re: pundits: "I think you should always look at freshening things up - change can be good - and bringing in the people I aim to have in the studio will add to the show in a different way, I think."

    The thing is though most the people due in are the BBC pundits we get to here the views of regularly in BBC coverage anyway. The journalists did offer something different - and arguably can analyse things much more objectively too.

  • Comment number 5.

    Why are you interviewing Jimmy White as a World Championship preview when he's not in the tournament?

    Why not interview a current player?

  • Comment number 6.

    Sorry, thinked the show lacked something this week. It was all a little too cosy. The 1st series of Inside Sport was brilliant, 40 minutes, nice length interviews, time for series discussion and time for odd bits of news and the following days headlines. We've slowly lost all apart from the interviews. Its gone from being the Sunday Times Sport section to the Daily Mirrors. Please have at least one journalist each week to add some weight to the discussions. Bring back the following days headlines and maybe we can go back having a show for series sports fans.

  • Comment number 7.

    I've been otherwise engaged all week, so I am saying this now about "Sportsday" last Monday.

    There is no need for an "Inside Sport" plug that lasts 3 minutes 30 seconds, and there is no need for Dan Walker and Gabby Logan to have a love-in to plug it!

  • Comment number 8.

    I look forward to the show. I like its relaxed pace and the time available to go into more detail. Scheduling is not a problem for me as most of my non-live viewing is via Digital Recorder (Sky HD), but I am aware that I have chosen to spend my money on this capability, others choose not to or can not justify the expense.

  • Comment number 9.

    I fail to see why it still is called "Inside" Sport. The Inside bit, I thought originally, was meant for the programme to be investigative and perhaps a bit controversial where live sports broadcasts couldn't be. And when the programme started it came out with some good stories. I can remember Matthew Pinsent doing some good investigations into things like Chinese training of their young Olympians and Dwain Chambers' drug taking. These were good programmes and having jounalists in the studio allowed serious and honset opinions on these controversial issues. Had you had current sports stars they would have simply, boringly, (cliche I know) sat on the fence. Another commentor here said that journalists are more "objective". I think that is a good word to use.

    Now all you seem to have is an extension of Match of the Day and Football Focus. You say that Alan Hansen revealing that he dreaded Saturday afternoons was revealing. Yes it was good but if Manish had got that out of him on Football Focus then it would have made that programme so much more watchable than the bore that it is now. What Focus needs is something interesting to spice up what is an increasingly bland programme. The Hansen interview would have been perfect.

    I'm not saying I don't want to watch Inside Sport as it is now. I mean, on a Monday night it is far and away the best programme on. It is relaxing and interesting too. I'm just saying that it fails to reach its potential, has declined series-by-series, and could be so much better.

  • Comment number 10.

    Its about time that Inside Sport was scrapped.
    It isnt as prokovking as it was.
    Maybe scrapping it and replacing it with a new Sportsnight would be better....or what about a return for Grandstand?

  • Comment number 11.

    Agree with the previous correspondents about Football Focus, whose banality makes it virtually unwatchable for me and other football fans I know. This is partly because its pundits are solely ex-players, who famously have little to say and are too scared of their colleagues to say anything contentious. This is why at least one non-player such as a journalist or independent person must be on sports shows to break-up the conformist old pals act.
    Michael Parkinson and Des Lynam both said about TV sport that they are too obsessed with famous faces and don't care if they have nothing to say.

  • Comment number 12.

    On a similar note too I notice A Question of Sport is increasingly using former sports stars and BBC pundits rather than current stars - and the programme is suffering for it as the "old boys club" effect strikes yet another programme from BBC Sport.

  • Comment number 13.


    This week, Matthew Pinsent is doing the plug with Francis Collings. They may have beaten Walker and Logan last week, but I never put a stopwatch on it.

  • Comment number 14.

    Redtimbo and Ktfoot's comments are bang on. Its not 'Inside Sport' without the journo's on it. Its now like every other sports show with the same old middle-of-the-road studio chat.

  • Comment number 15.

    Thanks again for your comments.
    Keep them coming….
    I've given my reasons for changing the panel with Gabby - and I know some would prefer seeing the journalists there in the studio. The question though, sometimes, is what can you bring new to the 'table' that can move things on.
    Well, on Monday, Jonathan Agnew - a journalist and former cricketer - brought something new and incisive to the table - not only with his expert comments on the IPL in South Africa and cricket in general - but he also spoke with the authority of a respected journalist, about the news that Andy Flower would be named as the new England coach.

    And John Parrott - he had so much relevance in everything we had in the show. He is even involved in trialling the 'super-sixes' in snooker, so to get his comments on the changing face of that game - which is taking a leaf out of Twenty20 is a winner for me.

    This coming week, Austin Healey and cricketer Charlotte Edwards are in the studio with Gabby - highly credible, bright, intelligent sportspeople who are current. And then the following week - AP McCoy will hopefully be there, just two days after winning his 14th successive championship.

    So yes, I am mixing the guests up - but I hope I am doing so with relevance.

  • Comment number 16.

    Why are the BBC so obsessed with Celebrity contribution and ex sports people? Why do you continue to overlook the need for balanced, constructive, thought through journalism. Just because you were/are good at a sport does not make you a shoe in to be an excellent pundit. Inside Sport worked because you had time served journalists who understood a breadth of sports, and the issues that underlie those sports. The programme is called Inside Sport, it was challenging and provocative
    now it is just vague and dare I say bland. Bring back the journos and get back "inside".

  • Comment number 17.

    Tim Henman looked lost and Alan Hansen says all he's got to say on Match of the Day...

    The journalists are professional critics - it's their job. I use to really look forward to this programme and now it's just like any other sport magazine show...It's no different to The One Show now...

    Please reconsider and have at least one pundit and one journalist on - you'd win me back immediately!

  • Comment number 18.

    You keep saying that it needed 'freshening up', but why change a winning formula just make it 'fresh', when doing so means that it's not fresh anymore, but the same old stuff that is already available elsewhere. The appeal of Inside Sport originally was that the journalists brought something different to the table, something that the likes of Hansen don't, because they're just rentaquote pundits who know that they cannot say anything too controversial because they are paid to be a 'safe pair of hands'. the journalists are more likely to say what they really think and take conversations and interviews in a more interesting direction.

  • Comment number 19.

    Alastair - your reasoning of bringing something 'new' to the table is all well and good but if it isn't broken? As a journo myself, I much prefer to hear from sports/football writers than ex-pros who, by and large, sit on the fence. There seems to be a common misconception that just because someone has played the game, it makes them supremely qualified to discuss it. They have experience, but don't necessarily possess the cojones to analyse/criticise like an independent hack would, and that's what I believe many people want to see. If we wanted to see lame, hackneyed ex-pros dribble out predictable guff, we'd all watch Football Focus...wouldn't we?

  • Comment number 20.

    People like Agnew and Parrot are fine - in fact they're very good pundits, as you say eloquent and informed. But we see them everywhere - why do we need to see someone like Alan Hansen on the show when he's on MOTD, MOTD 2 and Football Focus on a regular basis?

    What made Inside Sport different was that journalists are rarely seen outside of their paper. Inside Sport gave them a chance to broadcast their opinions on the TV and gave the show a unique flavour different from the host of other sport shows available by giving them that platform.

    I think the example to compare it to is the Sports' Panel on Simon Mayo's Five Live afternoon show on a Friday. They regularly have journos on and its a fantastic listen because you're not just getting the usual opinions, but a variety of views. Inside Sport could (and should) supply a similar thing.

  • Comment number 21.

    I felt that this weeks show was better than the first as Agnew and Parrot are more insightful and forthcoming in there opinions that Hansen and Henman.

    One thing I found odd though was in the week building up to the world snooker championships you decided to interview a player who won't even be competing there. Jimmy White is one of sports great characters but I would be surprised if many people found out anything that we didnt know already about him from the interview.

    In terms of the journalists I'm in favour of having them back. Although rather than going back to just using the original trio of Bunce, Kelly and Livesey you might cast the net wider so you do actually have a journalist who specifically covers the sport that will be discussed in that weeks show.

  • Comment number 22.

    I've been watching this show for the last few years and think particularly that the journalists, in particular Des Kelly can be brilliant on it. Steve Bunce can be an idiot sometimes. Kelly is a great writer and has no qualms about speaking his quite intuitive mind. Why you dropped him, unless you are utterly lacking in all sense - in other words, stupid - is beyond me. He should be hosting the show, he's great on Fighting Talk too. Give him more TV work BBC. Now.

  • Comment number 23.

    It saddens me to see the BBC go so obviously cheap on TV sports Journalism by dropping the very people who keep it alive - the talking heads that are Journalists.
    Undoubtedly the next series will be see Gabby dropped as well as the studio whilst the BBC continues to bleed serious programming dry of resources.

  • Comment number 24.

    Is Austin Healey there then as a retired rugby player, a BBC pundit, or another cast off from Strictly Come Dancing?

  • Comment number 25.

    Seeing McIntyre's latest, further explanation, might it be a case of the laddie protests too much?

    Of course Agnew, despite being a former cricketer, is a terrific broadcaster who is widely admired by other journalists. But what was to stop you utilising the BBC's cricket correspondent (which is, after all, what he is), alongside Bunce or Kelly?

    The whole business has been picked up elsewhere, too:

  • Comment number 26.

    Seems to me from the posts here that the programme has drifted and lost its purpose. Maybe it needs to be refocussed. There is a real need for an 'inside' hard-hitting investigative sports programme. Maybe Inside Sport should become that. However it would need better presenters I think.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    I'm starting to wonder why we're allowed to comment here. Nearly everyone has said they would like one journalist each week and they add to the show and the reponse we get back is that we are ALL wrong!

  • Comment number 29.

    You have done to Inside Sport what was being done to Ski Sunday. You have totally ruined it! Put it back like series 1 please now!

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm going to sit on the fence here and say that the new format works with some content and not with others.

    The viewers will miss the pundits view for controversial issues and the real points that matter to the supporters. A sports celeb put on the spot will rarely if ever court controversy. Great to see Charlotte Edwards on the show but how can she criticise the lack of terrestrial coverage of cricket on a BBC show?

    Suggestion why not send a proven real fan inside their chosen sport?

  • Comment number 32.

    Tthe thing that really set this show apart was the contribution form the journalists. Without that it's just one more sports show. It may be fresh but it's not exciting anymore. A real shame

  • Comment number 33.

    I missed the start of the snooker coverage and was wondering why Hazel Irvine is not hosting.

  • Comment number 34.

    She's recently had a baby.

    Great to see Gabby on Paul O'Grady the other day - actually quite rare to see sports presenters on chat shows.

  • Comment number 35.

    I think Inside Sport is great at focusing on points of view that are more pertinent to todays world of sport. I like the 'magazine' type feel of the show and the interviews are always insightful. We at Snow Menu, , just wondered if there was going to be any winter sports insights? It is the Olympics next year and it seems a shame to miss out the winter sports stars wo gave their all over this years winter period.

  • Comment number 36.

    Couple of points about last nights show. Good start time for once! If only it could be on at 10:45 every week, but I understand that it's not in your hands, Alistair. Secondly, where were the goals from Villa Park last night? Monday Night Football has always been shown on Inside Sport so why wasn't it last night? Thirdly, why didn't David Croft do the Button story? He did some great bits for IS last year (and I don't even like F1 much) and getting your rugby commentator to do the story seemed wrong to me. Lastly, great to see Boycott on there but feel he overshadowed the cycling man. I think a journalist alongside the Sir Geoffery would have only added to the debate last night!


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