Wogan attacks BBC over sports coverage

The BBC veteran Terry Wogan yesterday launched an outspoken attack on the corporation's radio and sports coverage, accusing station bosses of "fiddling the figures" and describing
Grandstand as "a joke".

The BBC veteran Terry Wogan yesterday launched an outspoken attack on the corporation's radio and sports coverage, accusing station bosses of "fiddling the figures" and describing Grandstand as "a joke".

In extracts from his forthcoming autobiography in the Radio Times, the 62-year-old presenter said the BBC had adopted the maxim "if it ain't broke - break it".

Wogan criticised the BBC for worrying more about "carpets for middle management offices" than holding on to high profile sporting rights. And he suggested the apparent surge in the number of Radio 5 listeners following its relaunch as Radio 5 Live could be explained by the new ways used to calculate ratings.

Singling out what he sees as the BBC's dwindling commitment to televising international golf, Wogan said: "It was not just a matter of being outbid for tournament coverage by Sky Sports TV. The will was not there. Funds had been earmarked for greater things: 24-hour news, BBC Choice, carpets for middle management offices... so went the way of most BBC TV sport. Grandstand is now a joke: rallying and bowls - with curling to add some spice in winter months."

Wogan, the original host of comedy quiz show Blankety Blank, criticised the trend among TV production companies to prime celebrity game show panelists with witty one-liners and amusing anecdotes.

He said most performers were "bears of very little brain", adding: " Celebrity Squares with Bob Monkhouse provided all the celebs with 'funnies' for every question, and the tradition continues, from the smart asses of Have I Got News for You to the dunces of Dictionary Corner on Countdown."

A BBC spokesman said: "Terry's memory is clouded by the mists of blarney."

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