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Back in the days when the number of television channels available to you could be counted on one hand, the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year show was an unabashed annual treat.

Cocooned within a small, dimly lit studio and occupying a prime pre-Christmas spot on the TV schedule, it was essential viewing; understated, classy and unashamedly all about sport.

Now? Not so much. It has sacrificed nearly all of what made it so compelling and surrendered willingly to the erroneous equation that bigger = better.

There’s no subtlety or nuance. Instead, it’s all glitz and glam, a feast of schmaltz and saccharin shoved down your throat with significant lashings of self-indulgence and disingenuous backslapping.

You’re great. No, you’re great.

Last night’s lavishly over-produced instalment was beamed live into homes across the land from the Echo Arena in Liverpool where viewers could have been forgiven for thinking they were watching a haphazard dress rehearsal rather than the main event

To call it a comedy of errors would be injudicious. Comedy is, by its very nature, funny. This was not.

“The greatest interview ever!” exclaimed a breathless Clare Balding after the worst interview ever, a toe-curling exchange with Sir Mo Farah, two of his kids and a faulty microphone.

Entirely less breathless, oddly enough, was sport’s most famous asthmatic, Chris Froome. The reigning Tour de France champion and latest cyclist to fail a drug test squirmed through his appearance, whilst Harry Kane – the top-scorer for an English Premier League team that has won precisely zero this year – was the token footballer on the shortlist.

Then there was Lewis Hamilton, born in Britain, taxed abroad and absolutely obsessed with his own reflection. His interview, via video-link from Los Angeles, was a lesson in monotonous insincerity – the very antithesis of ‘personality’.

Predictably, the rugby union segment – primarily a montage of the British & Irish Lions drawn summer test series with New Zealand – was accompanied by an Eddie Butler-voiced dramatic reading. Because, hey, if it works for absolutely every Six Nations match…

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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