Question of Sport loses millions of viewers after Sue Barker departure

Question of Sport loses millions of viewers after Sue Barker departure

September 6, 2022

Question of Sport loses millions of viewers after long-running host Sue Barker is replaced by Paddy McGuinness, with sports quiz beaten by farm shop programme

  • Ratings for Question of Sport have slumped to a new low following the departure of long-running host Sue Barker 
  • The BBC sports quiz show was fronted by Sue, 66, from 1997 until last year when she was replaced by Paddy McGuinness, 49, with audience numbers dropping to an average of 850,000 this series, according to The Sun 
  • One episode on August 19 peaked at 750,000, with the programme being beaten by a Channel 5 show about a farm shop
  • Between four and five million viewers regularly tuned in when Sue was host before she was given the boot in 2020 when bosses decided to refresh the programme 

Ratings for Question of Sport have slumped to a new low following the departure of long-running host Sue Barker.

The BBC sports quiz show was fronted by Sue, 66, from 1997 until last year when she was replaced by Paddy McGuinness, 49, with audience numbers dropping to an average of 850,000 this series, according to The Sun.

One episode on August 19 peaked at 750,000, with the programme being beaten by a Channel 5 show about a farm shop.

Struggling? Ratings for Question of Sport have slumped to a new low following the departure of long-running host Sue Barker (centre. Pictured with former team captains Matt Dawson (left) and Phil Tufnell (right) in 2020)

Between four and five million viewers regularly tuned in when Sue was host before she was given the boot in 2020 when bosses decided to refresh the programme.

MailOnline has contacted the BBC for comment. 

It comes after Sue admitted she was left ‘slightly damaged’ after being axed from  Question Of Sport after 24 years. 

The TV presenter was ousted by BBC bosses back in 2020 along with team captains Phil Tufnell and Matt Dawson after a decision was made to give the show’s line-up a refresh and Sue spoke out about the experience – admitting she felt ‘wretchedly sad’, insisting it could have been handled better by those in charge.

New start: The BBC sports quiz show was fronted by Sue, 66, from 1997 until last year when she was replaced by Paddy McGuinness, 49

In extracts from her book Calling The Shots: My Autobiography published by the Mail on Sunday, she explained: ‘After 24 years in the hotseat, I was sacked as the host of the BBC quiz show A Question Of Sport — and I’m afraid that has left me slightly damaged.

‘Don’t get me wrong: I had no problem with being replaced. Everyone has their day. Producers must always have the right to refresh a programme and take it in a new direction.

‘It was the way it was handled. It taught me there is actually no way of leaving a role in a nice, pleasant and helpful manner, with your head held high.’

New team: Audience numbers have reportedly dropped to an average of 850,000 this series, according to The Sun (Paddy (centre) pictured with new team captains Sam Quek (left) and Ugo Monye (right))

Sue went on to explain rumours about a line-up change had been going around since 2016 but her contract was subsequently extended and she believed the team would be kept on again beyond 2020 so she was shocked when she was called into a meeting and told she had been sacked.

The TV star added: ‘With me, there was a bit of, “We love the show and you’ve been an amazing host, but . . .” I’d been waiting for that “but”.

‘We were being sacked. I accepted their decision, though I couldn’t help feeling wretchedly sad. The boys were devastated, too.’

Sue claims BBC bosses didn’t get in touch in the following weeks until news of their departure was about to break and she was asked to sign a statement stating the three stars had decided to ‘step aside’ and she refused.

She went on: ‘As we hadn’t decided to step aside at all, we point-blank refused to sign the statement. Next, I was asked to announce that I was leaving for the good of the show. I was astounded. Was that because I was too old or not good enough? Either way, it was insulting. Did they actually expect me to sack myself?

‘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.’

Sue claims she was later offered her job back, but she declined and now says the way the issue was handled ‘stung more’ than the actual departure.

The former tennis player has since decided to step away from all her BBC presenting duties after covering this year’s Wimbledon tennis tournament.

She said in a statement: ‘What a wonderful time I’ve had working on some of the biggest sport ing events around the world. 

‘I will miss it terribly but after 30 years I feel the time is right for me. I’ve worked with the best of the best.’

Sue has previously hosted coverage of events including hosting the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Athletics Championships, the London Marathon, the Grand National, Royal Ascot and Sports Personality of the Year.

Speaing out: It comes after Sue admitted she was left ‘slightly damaged’ after being axed from Question Of Sport after 24 years (Sue (centre) pictured with Matt Dawson (left) and Phil Tufnell (right))

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