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Last Updated:  Friday, 23 August, 2002, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
Philip Bernie on Grandstand
Philp Bernie
Text: 07940 924 924
Grandstand editor Philip Bernie answered your questions about the world's longest running sports show.

  • Click here to listen to Philip

    If you have any other questions for Philip, send them to us and we will pose them to him though the year.

    Ed Chivers, Bristol

    GS has such a wide brief, what do you see as the aim of the show and what audience are you targeting?

    The main aim of the show is to bring the best sports events in the country to the viewers, and we have the best events in the country most weekends I think. Obviously there are some contracts put around with other broadcasters but we contain most of the big events across a very wide range of sports.

    In terms of the target audience that varies enormously, we're on for two days, 50 weeks a year, that's about 9 hours a week. The audience for equestrianism is obviously different to superbikes so we try and target the people who are interested in those sports.

    GS is a mini channel to a degree each weekend, and on each sporting event we want to reach fans and perhaps others who want to get involved. Our intention is to speak with authority on each sport so that the fans of the sport feel they are being well served but also make sure we are elucidating what the sport is about to attract new fans as well.

    Tim Hamilton, Birmingham

    I noticed last weekend that Sunday Grandstand has changed its format, what is the thinking behind this?

    What we've done is introduce for a short period of time when we have more airspace - half an hour at the start of the show - is to produce a new news magazine, because I do think that Sundays in sports terms are to a good degree about reflecting what's happened on the Saturday.

    I think we were lacking the chance to be able to do that, and this is an opportunity, albeit for a short period of time, to be properly reactive to news, and ferment debate.

    John Beckett, Scotland

    Why have you suddenly considered showing other alternative sports like Downhill mountain biking and BMX? I think you have made a popular move by doing so and I hope to see more in 2003!

    We're certainly looking at having one or two more goes at it, I was pleased with the way it worked. There was a lot of interest in the media about it.

    Basically, there are times when in the year where there isn't a real headline event in the British sporting calendar. Nobody can show Premiership football on a Saturday so we have to look at some other events.

    We are keen anyway to make sure we cover the breadth of sporting interest. On that Saturday there wasn't anything major, and we picked up on a number of other events.

    We had the world canoeing championships and also the mountain biking champs and those were both major events with an Olympic pedigree, we did the X-Games to give some coherence to the whole afternoon's sport, and I thought it worked very well.

    Ian Hugill, UK

    Have you ever ruled out cricket returning to Grandstand?

    No. You never know, and it's really a question involving the whole of BBC Sport. It's been with Channel 4 and Sky for few years now, I think they are doing it well. Their contracts have been renewed so it's not available for the foreseeable future.

    Cricket is a very time consuming sport, and it would take up a lot of channel space beyond Saturday and Sunday, i.e. Thursday and Friday, and we have a lot of sport on our books. So it's not as if we have a lot of gaps that would be filled by the huge volume of cricket that it would entail.

    But it isn't ruled out, for the reasons I've said I can't see it coming back in the foreseeable future and it's not absolutely top of our agenda in terms of what we can get back in the next couple of years.

    Steve Byrne, Northern Ireland

    You claim you cater for a wide range of sports, but let's face it, the BBC's equestrian coverage is nothing short of a joke. August's Hickstead Derby received no coverage whatsoever. Is this ever going to change?

    Well, Steve obviously missed the two-and-a-half hours coverage of the Hickstead Derby, I don't know where he was...and indeed we had the Derby on the Saturday which we showed live. I think that is pretty impressive commitment to the big outdoor show-jumping events of the year.

    We're about to do the World Championship three-day eventing in Jerez this weekend, which Clare Balding is presenting, and we did Burghley a couple of weeks ago, so I thing our equestrian coverage is pretty substantial.

    Phil Kewley, England

    Why, given you have secondary rights to the second-largest viewing sport in the UK do you insist on showing X-treme sports. I'm talking about rugby league. Why not test the water with a weekly highlights show on Grandstand?

    Well we do cover rugby league, which is great sport, we do the Challenge Cup which has always been a key part of the BBC's sports portfolio. Other contracts are yet to be decided. In terms of highlights programmes, Grandstand is an events programme, we want to be showing live events and live sport, live competition.

    On the whole we're not really in the market for highlight programmes, we do some occasional magazines where we've got a large volume of output that we can't get away elsewhere, but generally I'm not that keen.

    Greg Wright, UK

    Why do we have to have updates of football scores across coverage of other sports? If someone wants to know the score they can get it from other sources, it is an unnecessary distraction.

    I think it's a fairly minimal distraction, we've changed the way we do it so now it's in the top right-hand corner of the screen, and I'm sorry if Greg doesn't like it but we've had very few complaints about it since the change.

    It's there for people who want to pick up on football scores, and on a Saturday afternoon for example the major stories are generally created by the Premiership. Nobody can show the action but we can show the scores.

    The way people watch television on a Saturday is such that they return from the shopping and want the latest news and I think what we're doing at the moment is a keeping people updated but not distracting them from the main point of the show which is the action.

    Anne Connors, Sheffield

    The four sporting events I have looked forward to this summer, namely Wimbledon, the Open Golf, Commonwealth Games and European Athletics championships have all been spoilt by the music.

    Even the leader board at the Open had some garage music in case we got too bored. Why do we have to have this awful music?

    Music is a matter of taste generally, what some people like others won't. I don't think we over-do it and I hope we don't, and we are aware that some people do get distracted or annoyed by over-use of music. I think sometimes it enlivens what we are doing visually and aurally.

    The intention is to ensure that the sound and the pictures don't become too flat. It's only used on occasions. When you have a leaderboard it gives it a bit more zest, if you've got a lot of information to read, so it's quite a nice way on the whole for viewers to be given a bit more life to the way we present tings.

    But I accept that some people won't like the use of music, we try not to overdo it and only use it where we think it will add something.








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