We are the Champions
Ron Pickering (original host)
Paddy McGuinness (Sport Relief version)
Coaches (2010): Amir Khan, Jeanette Kwayke, Steve Williams, Ade Adepitan, Louis Smith, Beth Tweddle, Heather Frederiksen, Ashia Hansen, John Regis, Tim Henman, Danny Crates, Dalton Grant, Dame Kelly Holmes, Mark Foster, Darren Campbell
Commentator (2010): Jacqui Oatley
Regular series: BBC 1, 13 June 1973 to 13 August 1987, but annual specials continued until 25 July 1995
as Sport Relief Does We are the Champions, CBBC, 8 to 12 March 2010 (5 episodes)
Assorted school teams took part in a succession of old-school obstacle courses, testing running, jumping, skipping, dribbling, climbing over things, crawling under things and so forth, with occasional balls or bean-bags to be transported en route - and sometimes thrown into a receptacle for bonus points at the end.
Ron Pickering looked like the games master from hell, but treated the kids kindly; this may have been a conspiracy organised by real games masters to fool the kids into trusting their own PE teacher. The last two events of each show took place in a swimming pool and frequently featured rafts and boats to be climbed onto.
Enjoyably bizarre scoring system and series-long tournament scheme. Oh, and at least one celebrity guest per episode - a sports' star (hardly surprising, given the nature of the programme), like the canoeist and Paddles Up favourite Richard Fox, or Duncan Goodhew. There was always a section in the middle of the programme when the kids got to ask the celebrity/celebrities questions.
The 2010 Sport Relief version stuck close to the original version's format, with only a few changes. Taking place at the Ponds Forge facility in Sheffield, five games were played, three in a sports hall (as opposed to a field like the original version), and the other two in the pool. The games played were very similar to those played in the original version, requiring running, throwing, climbing etc, but above all team work. Each team was assigned a celebrity coach from the world of sport, who would cheer them on from the sidelines and announce their scores. After four daily heats, the three teams with the highest scores competed in the Friday final for the chance to be declared We are the Champions, erm champions.
Pickering shouted "Away you go!" at the end of each show, at which point all the kids would dive into the pool and start messing around and celebrating as if the summer holidays had just begun. How easily pleased they were. In 'The 100 Greatest Kids' TV Shows' (2001), some celebrities, including Iain Lee, said that they always reckoned that that was by far the best part of the programme and the rest was nothing more than a precursor.
Ron Pickering died in 1991, towards the end of the show's run - an occupational hazard of hosting children's television (c.f. Castle, R.) There were occasional tribute programmes ever after, hosted by nice guy of football (though evidently not nice guy of nutrition) Gary Lineker. This was in the days when kids knew who Gary Lineker actually was.
From 1983 onwards, special programmes were held for children with disabilities - in fact, after 1987 there was no regular series at all, just the specials.
Part 1 of an episode from 1984