Sue Barker: Way BBC sacked me from 'Question Of Sport' felt disrespectful and left me 'wretchedly sad'

·Contributor
·3-min read
Sue Barker at Wimbledon
Sue Barker hosted Question of Sport for the BBC from 1997 to 2021. (BBC)

Sue Barker has revealed the way the BBC handled her sacking from Question Of Sport left her "wretchedly sad."

The 66-year-old TV presenter revealed the corporation tried to make her lie and claim the decision was her own, and led to her choosing to retire from hosting coverage of Wimbledon tennis championships before she could be asked to leave.

Barker said in her new autobiography serialised in the Mail Online: "After 24 years in the hotseat, I was sacked as the host of A Question Of Sport - and I'm afraid that has left me slightly damaged.

Read more: Sue Barker on Cliff Richard fling

"I had no problem with being replaced. 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."

Ally McCoist, Sue Barker and John Parrott.
Sue Barker hosted Question Of Sport for 24 years. (Getty Images)

The former professional tennis player began hosting the BBC sports quiz show in 1997 and left in 2021.

In her book Calling The Shots she revealed she first learned of plans to replace her in October 2016 when she was on holiday and a friend told her they had seen an internal document revealing producers wanted to replace her in order to, "refresh the show and appeal to a younger audience."

Barker said she was "gobsmacked" by the news as her bosses had not warned her about the changes.

She ended up staying on, only to be told two years later that she would be asked to extend her contract but there were plans to replace team captains, ex-cricketer Phil Tufnell and former rugby player Matt Dawson.

Barker revealed she said she would step down if Tufnell and Dawson were leaving and all their contracts were renewed once again.

Watch: Emotional Sue Barker receives standing ovation during Centre Court celebration

Then in 2020 they were called into separate management meetings and told they were all being sacked.

Barker said: "I accepted their decision, though I couldn't help feeling wretchedly sad.

"The show had played an anchoring role in all our lives; it was part of our identity - it's the first thing any member of the public who stops me for a chat wants to know about."

But the TV presenter admitted "anger set in" when no one contacted her from the BBC to get a statement from her about leaving the show.

Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell attend Investec Ladies Day at the Investec Derby Festival in Epsom in 2012.
Question of Sport team captains Phil Tufnell and Matt Dawson left at the same time as Sue Barker. (Getty Images)

Then she was asked to sign a statement written on her behalf, saying it had been her decision to step down from the show.

She said: "Why had we been shown so little respect?"

Barker told the BBC to "own their decision" and refused to lie on their behalf. She claims she was then offered her job back, but refused.

She said: "It wasn't the ending of an era that stung, but the way it was handled."

Barker added: "The overwhelming feeling I was left with was a determination that this sort of treatment, this lack of care and consideration, was never, ever going to happen to me again."

Paddy McGuinness.
Paddy McGuinness now hosts BBC quiz Question of Sport. (Getty Images for Just Eat)

And so this year she made the decision to stop presenting the Wimbledon tennis coverage, before that option could be taken from her.

She said: "It's the hardest thing in the world — to stop doing a job you still love while you're somewhere near the top. I will miss it terribly when it's not an annual part of my life. But I have no regrets."

Read more: Sue Barker's last ever Wimbledon

Since Barker left, Question Of Sport is hosted by 49-year-old comedian Paddy McGuinness.