Sue Barker has responded to the shocking news that BBC’s A Question of Sport would not be returning.
The quiz show has been on the air for 53 years and has had a number of hosts and team captains.
Barker took up hosting responsibilities from David Coleman in 1997 and will continue to do so until 2021.
Under her leadership, A Question of Sport remained a major success, attracting up to four million viewers each week, making her dismissal all the more unexpected, both to Barker and to fans.
The broadcaster has finally broken her silence after the BBC acknowledged on Friday that ‘tough decisions must be made owing to inflation and budget concerns.’ As a result, A Question of Sport is no longer ‘currently in production.’
In her response to MailOnline, Barker said: ‘Obviously, I am massively disappointed as it is a show that has meant so much to me.’
A Question of Sport ran for almost 1,300 episodes and initially aired in 1970.
Former Match of the Day reporter David Vine hosted it at first, but Barker became identified with the show in its latter years.
She hosted with team leaders Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell for many years, with Dawson being the longest-serving captain.
When Barker left in 2021, they, too, stood down.
The news came completely unexpected at the moment.
‘I’ve absolutely loved my 24 years fronting A Question of Sport, it’s been my dream job,’ Barker confessed.
‘But I understand the BBC want to take the show in a new direction and I’m sad to say goodbye.’
Dawson also said that he ‘wasn’t sure how to respond’ after his own surprise axe.
Shortly after, Barker revealed how bosses broke the news of her sacking to her.
‘I was sent a statement that the BBC wanted me to approve immediately, saying the three of us had decided to step aside,’ she penned in her autobiography.
‘They hadn’t bothered to get a quote from me. Why hadn’t they reacted to our request earlier? Why had we been shown so little respect?’, she blasted.
The trio refused to sign the paper, but the corporation’s pressure grew stronger.
‘Next, I was asked to announce that I was leaving for the good of the show,’ she claimed.
Barker was ‘astounded’ and started questioning whether she was ‘too old’ or ‘not good enough’, slamming the ‘insulting’ attitude.
‘I told the BBC to own their decision and declare publicly that they wanted to refresh the show; I wasn’t going to lie to make it easier for them,’ she said.
‘Unbelievably, they then offered me my job back, but as I couldn’t help but feel they didn’t want me any more, I declined.’
Following Barker’s departure, former Top Gear host Paddy McGuinness replaced over in a fresh lineup that sparked debate.
Sam Quek, the team’s first female captain, and Ugo Monye joined him.
Regrettably, ratings began to decline.
McGuinness got off to a good start, with his debut programme attracting 2.2 million views.
Unfortunately, estimates eventually fell below one million.
According to sources, this was the final nail in the coffin for the programme, and it will not be returning.
‘We have to provide value for money to licence fee payers and prioritise high-impact content that drives viewers to BBC iPlayer,’ the source said.
‘So, for now, Question of Sport is taking a break and there are no current plans for its return.’
But there is still hope.
According to a TV source, A Question of Sport might one day follow in the footsteps of The Weakest Link, which stopped in 2012 with Anne Robinson and then returned in 2020 with Romesh Ranganathan.
Source My Celebrity Life.