Sports panel shows

A League Of Their Own. Image shows from L to R: Micah Richards, Romesh Ranganathan, Jamie Redknapp

Sport has been a source of entertainment for millennia; from the ancient Olympic games to the Roman gladiatorial arena, Japanese sumo wrestling to the codification of modern team sports in the Victorian period.

Nowadays other entertainments take sports as their basis: for example, you can gamble on sports taking place anywhere in the world through sites like Unibet online betting; and if you want to laugh about sporting events then a variety of chat, challenge and panel shows are on offer...

A League Of Their Own

A League Of Their Own stands amongst the most popular modern panel shows, seamlessly blending sports trivia, comedy, and camaraderie. Originally hosted by James Corden, the show features two teams led by team captains, notably Jamie Redknapp and Freddie Flintoff. The series excels in its ability to extract humorous anecdotes from its celebrity guests, who engage in a variety of challenges and games related to sports and pop culture.

The show's enduring appeal lies in the dynamic between the hosts and guests, fostering an atmosphere of playful competitiveness while delivering plenty of laughs. Seventeen series have aired to date, clocking up well over 100 episodes and numerous related spin-off formats.

Play To The Whistle

Play To The Whistle. Image shows from L to R: Bradley Walsh, Holly Willoughby, Frank Lampard. Copyright: Hungry Bear Media

Play To The Whistle brought a further twist to the sports/panel show mix, presenting a similar formula to that popularised in A League Of Their Own but to a more mainstream audience on ITV 1, with a lighter and less competitive tone.

Holly Willoughby was the host, steering the show's two teams - led by Bradley Walsh and Frank Lampard - over the course of three series. Its blend of sports trivia, physical challenges, and celebrity anecdotes created a light-hearted and entertaining experience for both the audience and the participants. The format encouraged celebrity guests, often athletes, to showcase their competitive spirit in a relaxed and jovial atmosphere.

They Think It's All Over

They Think It's All Over holds a special place in the history of British panel shows, one of the earliest hits as the genre found wide popularity in the 1990s and running for more than a decade, ending in 2006. With Nick Hancock as the host for most of its life, the show set the standard for witty banter, sports-based challenges, and satirical humour. Its title, derived from a famous football commentary quote, captures its playful tone well. Often including athletes, comedians, and sports journalists as guests, the series allowed for a broad range of perspectives and comedic styles. They Think It's All Over was known for its quick-witted humour and the camaraderie between the host, team captains, and guests, cementing its status as a classic in the realm of British panel shows.

Each of the three have in their own way left an indelible mark on the landscape of television sports entertainment. Through their varied approaches to blending sports knowledge, celebrity guests, physical challenges and comedic flair, they captured the hearts of audiences and stand as a testament to the enduring popularity of both the panel show format and the ways that comedy and sports can combine.

Published: Wednesday 30th August 2023

Share this page