They Think It’s All Over (BBC1, 1995-2006)
Is this a game show or a comedy show? Well I suppose it’s one of those that’s both really. They Think It’s All Over was a show that took an amusing look at everything to do with sport. It was originally on BBC Radio 5 from 1992-1994 and hosted by Des Lynam, but when it transferred to TV Nick Hancock took over as host, and it was often seen by viewers as a much livelier alternative to A Question Of Sport.
Two teams of three took part. Originally the team captains were cricketer David Gower and footballer Gary Lineker, who were given a chance to show off their humour. They would be joined by the comedians Lee Hurst (who also runs a comedy club called the Backyard near where I live) and Rory McGrath, plus an additional panellist who was usually another sportsperson or comedian.
There were a lot of rounds played over the years. These included having to decide why a football team celebrated a goal in the way that they did, having to identify what was happening in a memorable sporting moment, trying to work out how unusual injuries happened, and a picture of a face that had been made up from three different sportspeople and they had to guess who they all were.
One of the most memorable rounds would have to be Feel The Sportsman. Two of the three panellists would be blindfolded, and then they would have to guess who the special guest was by touch alone which always led to some funny moments. The final round usually consisted of one of the panellists having to give a clue to a name of a famous sportsperson. This was always good because most of the names were ridiculous and because they were against the clock they would desperately do anything to try and win right at the end.
They Think It’s All Over became a very popular show in the late-90s, and there were some special editions released on VHS featuring some highlights plus some previously unseen moments along with a book, although I don’t have any of those myself. The show ended up running for just over a decade on TV, but unfortunately by the end it had began to run out of steam.
Lee Hurst left to be replaced by Jonathan Ross, and the team captains constantly changed for the last few series after the departures of Gower and Lineker. Even Nick Hancock didn’t stay around to the end, with the final series being hosted by Lee Mack (who I think is the only person to have hosted all of the “big three” BBC comedy panel games, the others being Have I Got News For You and Never Mind The Buzzcocks), but I had stopped watching regularly by this point. However, at its peak it was always an enjoyable watch.