Saint And Greavsie (ITV, 1985-1992)
As it’s a Saturday Afternoon, I thought that I would take a look back at something that was shown regularly in a Saturday Afternoon timeslot, and for a brief while it became an institution. As I have said before, I have never been that good at playing sport myself, but I have watched a lot of TV shows about sport over the years, so here’s the story behind this one.
Saint And Greavsie was a show all about sport (with the emphasis on football) that was hosted by Ian St John and Jimmy Greaves. They were both footballers in the 60s, Ian played for Liverpool and Scotland, while Jimmy played for Chelsea, Tottenham, and England (where he was one of the most prolific goalscorers of his era). After this, they both got into TV punditry, and in the early-80s they were paired together to host the On The Ball segment of World Of Sport.
By this point, they had successfully become a rather unlikely but entertaining double-act with viewers, so after World Of Sport ended in 1985, they got their own spin-off show. Jimmy became known for having a rather light-hearted take on sporting affairs, and Ian practically became Jimmy’s straight-man, as he often came to the conclusion “it’s a funny old game” to much laughter. For some reason the show’s theme for many years was “Aztec Gold”, introduced for ITV’s coverage of the 1986 World Cup. Well why let it go to waste.
Saint And Greavsie was designed to preview the forthcoming weekend sporting fixtures (including the ones that could be shown on ITV). There would also be highlights of the week’s league and cup games in England and Scotland, along with reports and interviews from Peter Brackley, Martin Tyler, and Jim Rosenthal (who Jimmy liked to call “Rosie”). The studio would also be used later in the day for ITV Results Service where we discovered how all the teams got on with Elton Welsby.
The show became popular enough for Jimmy to soon be appearing elsewhere on TV, including as TV-am’s television critic, and as a captain on game show Sporting Triangles, and in 1989 they featured in a trivia computer game. They also played a major part in ITV’s coverage of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, and even earned themselves a few TV Times covers. There was also one memorable edition in December 1990 when Jimmy was unavailable so he was replaced by his Spitting Image puppet (voiced by Peter Brackley, who would go on to be the commentator for Channel 4’s innovative Football Italia), and Ian didn’t seem to notice the difference.
There would also be a few competitions including Goal Of The Season where there were some big prizes on offer. In 1991, the show was extended to from 30 minutes to 45, but this would turn out to be the final series. In 1992, Sky had won the rights to show live coverage of the newly-formed Premier League, and although ITV still had coverage of the lower leagues, it was decided to bring the show to an end.
One of the reasons for this was that it was felt with no analysis of the Premier League possible, they wouldn’t have much left to talk about (as was memorably mocked on Fantasy Football League). Despite this, Ian and Jimmy continued to contribute to various ITV Sport shows until the mid-90s. They then reunited to host an interactive DVD game together during the brief craze for those, along with a book. And in 2009, they were hired to contribute to satellite channel Setanta Sport’s coverage of the FA Cup Final. The channel closed about a week later, but they insisted that it wasn’t their fault.