Older readers will remember World of Sport on ITV, the channel’s Saturday afternoon flagship sports anthology programme that ran for two decades from the mid-1960s through to the mid-1980s. World of Sport as a programme name was always something of a misnomer; a more accurate name might have been World Of Marginal Interest Sport – the place to go to confirm your long-held suspicion that lacrosse, crown green bowling and water skiing were not sports suitable for television consumption.
World Of Sport was helmed for many years by the distinctive figure of Dickie Davis who would present to camera while dozens of secretaries constantly typed away in the background. Perhaps they were endlessly typing ‘All rubbish sport and no play makes Dickie a dull boy.’ The programme’s other most recognisable character – in voice form at least – was Kent Walton, long-term presenter of the wrestling segment that became a Saturday afternoon refuge for walking stick waving septuagenarians with rage issues.
Even in its 1970s heyday World of Sport was a higgledy-piggledy affair and certainly not the sort of television ‘brand’ you might think could inspire a merchandising line, replete with adverts featuring the disembodied head of Mr Davies. Selling a WOS almanack filled with sports results was an eminently reasonable tie-in, but it’s hard to imagine why any marketing monkey imagined there might be a grateful audience awaiting branded t-shirts, stick on patches and footballs – even with Mick Channon locked in a warehouse and made to sign each one individually.
The World Of Sport line was heavily marketed during 1972 and 1973 before quietly disappearing, the general public evidently indifferent to goods attempting to tap in to the sporting cachet of Dickie ‘the Liberace of sports anchor men’ Davies and his weekly compendium of not-quite-proper sports.