Wonderduck asked me in the comments to my previous post if World of Sport had anything to do with Wide-World of Sport on CBS. Am I going to miss an opportunity to write at length about World of Sport? Damn straight I’m not.
It was indeed quite the rip-off. At the time it started in the UK (around 1967) if you watched sport on TV, you tended to watch it on the BBC, they had most of the contracts. ITV decided they needed a focus to their sports coverage, so created World of Sport, and borrowed much of the philosophy of Wild World of Sport, in particular the idea to show lots of different sports from around the world, rather than being particularly UK-centric. So this was where I first saw the Indy 500, NASCAR, and indeed the NFL, NBA and NHL, this was where my passion for American sports was formed. Along with also being the place to see Evel Knievel jump as well, and I believe the CBS show had the main contract for those jumps, then selling them on around the world. It also was where I saw James Hunt win the Formula 1 world championship in the rain in Japan in 1976.
World of Sport was also where wrestling was shown in the UK. British Wrestling. Old School British Wrestling. Which I loved at the time, but in general it was appalling compared to its American counterpart. Bizarrely my mother can recall watching American Wrestling in the late 50s-early 60s on ITV, but once World of Sport started, we were “treated” to this endlessly.
My first memory in life is watching World of Sport. Most Saturday afternoons, for most of my childhood would be spent watching it. The scary thing about the documentary was how many of the “weird and wacky” I can clearly remember watching. The World Firemans Championship from New Jersey in 1980 for one, along with the Lumberjack’s Championship from Canada, which I believe was in Autumn 1976. They also didn’t show enough barrel jumping on ice-skates, as that was a particular childhood favourite.