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  Friday, 30 November, 2001, 11:04 GMT
A year in two hours
Sports Personality of the Year presenters Gary Lineker, Steve Rider and Sue Barker with the famous trophy
Presenters Gary Lineker, Steve Rider and Sue Barker
BBC Sport Online talks to the man in charge of Sports Personality of the Year.

It means that Christmas is round the corner and the year is coming to an end. In fact, it means that the sporting year is over.

Sports Personality of the Year is approaching half a century as the scrapbook of the sporting year.

Putting together two hours of live television in front of an audience of Britain's best sport's stars and millions watching at home is a task that takes up a large chunk of those 12 months.

Initial thoughts turn towards the programme in spring, when Sports Personality's editor Philip Bernie draws up a rough schedule.

David Beckham and Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali was honoured in 1999

Bernie faces an almost impossible task in trying to shoehorn 12 months of sport into 120 minutes.

Invariably, the lack of coverage of certain sports attracts criticism from various quarters.

"It is such a big show - there are so many different areas. It is very difficult to cover everything.

"We now try to pick what will really resonate with people. The key is to keep the viewers entertained.

"OK, we do have public service responsibilities, but it is not meant to be an exhaustive book of the sporting year. The programme is there to entertain", said Bernie.

BBC
Behind the scenes

Almost his final job, once the phone lines have closed, is to write the order of the final three and seal it in an envelope.

No-one else knows the result until it is announced a few minutes later by the guest who is handing out the famous old trophy.

And no-one will ever know by how many votes the winner has triumphed. The BBC line has always been that they are votes for sports people in a television competition - they are not politicians standing for public office.

"I think it's unfair to reveal the numbers - it is of no great benefit to anyone," said Bernie.


Beckham honour

The 2001 show

Winners profiled

Have your say

THE NIGHT IN PICTURES

WATCH HIGHLIGHTS
Links to more Sports Personality stories are at the foot of the page.


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