A League of Their Own
Stuart Broad (non-broadcast pilot)
Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff
Dermot O'Leary (stand-in for Jamie Redknapp, series 3, episode 8)
Lee Mack (stand-in for Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff, series 4, episode 2)
Peter Crouch (stand-in for Jamie Redknapp, series 5, episode 2)
Gabby Logan (stand-in for Jamie Redknapp, series 6, episode 5)
Kriss Akabusi (stand-in for Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff, series 7, episode 6)
John Bishop (2010-1)
Georgie Thompson (2010-1)
Jack Whitehall (2012-)
CPL Productions for Sky 1, 11 March 2010 to present
James Corden '"referees" this comedy panel quiz, as team captains Jamie Redknapp and Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff and their guests put their sports knowledge to the test.
The first round sees each team being shown clips of three famous sports people. Following this, they are given a category, and must rank the three sports people according to the category. These categories tend to have little to do with sport however, with categories featured including ranking which of the three sports people has the most tattoos, or which of the three sports peoples wives charges the most for their perfume. In common with other comedy quizzes, the questions are often disregarded for a time in favour of banter between the panellists. These diversions are welcome however, with the banter between the host and the panellists delivering numerous funny moments. Once the teams have got around to ranking their three sports people, one point is given for each sports person ranked in the correct position.
The second round is usually the Guest List. Here a famous sports person has been asked to list their three favourite things about doing the job they do, and the teams have to attempt to guess the three things. Again, there are lots of humorous responses and exchanges before the answers are given. One point is on offer for each correct answer. From the second series, an alternative second round is sometimes played in which three sporting celebrities are revealed, and each team have to decide which of them said a particular quote. One point is given for a correct answer.
The final round sees two members of each team given a series of quickfire categories to which they must provide answers. For example, categories could be, ‘Name three league football teams that end in County’, or, ‘Name the last three Summer Olympic host cities’. Each category correctly answered in full scores a point. The length of time each team has to answer is determined by how long their third team member can hold a certain sporting position – for example how long they can hold their head above a chin-up bar. After each team has had their turn, the scores are revealed, and the winning team is announced.
The first episode stretched to an hour, and while very funny throughout, the quiz element seemed to get lost at times, and it became just a bunch of comedians and guests exchanging banter. The subsequent 30 minute episodes worked better, offering a good balance of comedy and quiz.
James Corden, who, generally speaking can be a bit Marmite, is good as the host, offering jokes and interjections of his own, but while also being a good quizmaster. Freddie Flintoff and Jamie Redknapp are great choices for team captains. Each knows a sufficient amount about sport in general to help them when answering questions, but are also quite witty. They are also sporting enough to accept regular ribbing about themselves, specifically Flintoff’s alcohol-fuelled exploits, and Redknapp’s injury-prone career, things which have both become recurring jokes.
The regular panellists, comedian John Bishop and Sky Sports News presenter Georgie Thompson are also good choices, with Thompson delivering more on the sports knowledge side of things, and Bishop contributing on the comedy side of things, and he does deliver, with several laugh-out-loud quips each episode.
On the whole, A League of Their Own is pretty good, and although perhaps not really breaking any new ground, it has enough going for it to make you want to tune in the next week.
Following the success of the first two series, the programme underwent some changes. The first change saw the return to an hour-long format. Unlike the first episode, in which as noted, the quiz element got lost at times, it doesn't in these new episodes, with there still being plenty of banter which is good, but whilst never losing sight of the fact it is a quiz programme. One negative of the increased running time is the extra advert breaks, which do break up the flow somewhat, thanks in large part to their odd placement, for example, right in the middle of the first round, when one team has had their turn, but the other team hasn't.
While the first round remained the same as in the first two series, the second round was changed to pitch all the members of one team against the guest sports star on the opposing team in a short challenge in the sports star's chosen field. Should the team win, they score three points, should the sports star win, they score three points for their team.
Another change is the move to a larger studio. The set of the previous series, with the teams sat behind desks either side of the host, remains. However there is now a large stage to the right of the set, with a screen hiding the apparatus to be used in the final round. The rules in this round remain the same as in the first two series. However, the larger set now affords much larger apparatus to be used, and for all three team members to take part. For example, the first episode of the third series saw a large tank of water installed in the studio, with all three team members being required to hang from a diving board overhead.
The changes implemented here don't drastically alter the successful basis of the programme, and, with the exception of the advert break problem, do actually add to the programme, making it more of a must-see than before.
Series 5 saw John Bishop and Georgie Thompson retiring from their roles as regular panellists. They did remain on the programme as guests, with Bishop doing 4 shows and Thompson making one appearance. Comedian Jack Whitehall took over Bishop and Thompson's role as regular panellist.
2012 Olympic hero Mo Farah's famous "Mo-bot" victory celebration originated when he was a guest on the show. Noting that Usain Bolt had a distinctive victory pose and Farah didn't, James Corden invited the panellists to invent one. Clare Balding suggested using the "M" from The Village People's "YMCA" dance, and a legend was born...
‘You’re in a league of your own’
Stuart Broad was Jamie Redknapp's rival team captain for the unaired pilot episode. When the programme started a full series, his position was taken by fellow cricketer Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff.
On Series 3, Episode 3, the blue team were asked to name three current (as of 2011) German Formula 1 drivers. Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, and Michael Schumacher were accepted as correct answers, despite Mark Webber being Australian.
The show publicised the hashtag #aloto.