"This isn't like A Question of Sport, is it?"They Think It's All Over was a sport-themed Panel Show which began airing on BBC Radio 5 in 1992. It was chaired by sport broadcaster Des Lynam and featured two teams of two panellists each, captained by comedians Rory Bremner and Rory McGrath, with guests from the world of sport. After two series and a Christmas Episode in 1992 and 1993, the format made the jump to television in 1995, airing on BBC1 for 155 episodes across nineteen series and several specials.The TV series was initially presented by comedian and Room 101 presenter Nick Hancock, and featured two teams of three panellists captained by former England cricketer David Gower (who made several appearances on the radio version) and former England footballer Gary Lineker, with regular spots taken by comedians Lee Hurst on Gower's team and Rory McGrath on Lineker's. The third members of each team were generally either athletes, commentators, or comedians, although occasionally politicians (such as Alastair Campbell or Jeffrey Archer) or broadcasters in other areas (such as Chris Tarrant or Richard Hammond) would appear. Hurst left the series in 1998 to concentrate on running his comedy club in Bethnal Green, and after two series of rotating guest comedians, his place was permanently taken by radio and TV presenter Jonathan Ross.The series was to sport what Have I Got News for You is to current events and Never Mind the Buzzcocks was to pop music: ostensibly a quiz about the people and events in sport, but really a showcase for the comedic talents of the regulars and an excuse to poke fun at the world of sport. Each episode featured between four and six rounds, some of the more frequently played of which were:
—Stephen Hendry on the 1980s special.
- Excuses: The teams would be shown footage of sporting failure or controversy (or, occasionally, success) and asked to identify the excuse the people involved gave when asked to explain themselves.
- Celebrations: The teams would be shown footage of an unusual goal celebration in a football match (or similar celebratory moment) and asked to explain the bizarre antics of the people involved.
- Sing When You're Winning: The teams would hear the first part of a song sung on the terraces of a particular football ground as rendered by a group of fans, and have to guess what the next lines were.
- Sporting Bluff: The teams would hear three possible explanations for a sport-related story, and have to guess which one is correct.
- What's Going On?: The teams would be shown an unusual piece of sporting footage, and have to answer the question in the round's title: what's going on?
- Handbags: The teams would be asked to explain the reason behind two sporting figures or a player and his/her team feuding with each other.
- Author, Author: The teams would hear an excerpt from a sporting figure's autobiography and be tasked with identifying the book's subject.
- Photo-fit: The teams would be shown a bizarre composite picture of three sports personalities, and have to identify the three people whose faces/bodies had been cut and assembled into the picture. (For the first few series, Rory McGrath would invariably claim to have slept with the "subject".)
- Injury Board: The teams would be shown a grid of twelve numbers, and behind each number would be an athlete and an item that had injured him/her in an unusual way; they would then have to explain how the injury happened.
- The Double/The Treble: The teams would be shown either two or three sporting figures or teams and asked to match them with their unusual inspirations, sidelines, explanations of their success, etc.
- Physical Challenge: The panellists would engage in a physical activity such as pedalling an exercise bike, their efforts in which would cause pictures of sporting figures or equipment to be revealed piece by piece; they had to identify the subject of as many pictures as they could in the time limit.
- Feel the Sportsman: The next-to-last round of each show, and perhaps the most well-remembered round of the series. The team captains and resident comedians would don blindfolds, and a guest athlete or team would then be brought onto the stage and have to be identified by touch alone. This was the source of many of the series' biggest laughs, both from blindfolded panellists (especially Rory McGrath and Jonathan Ross) getting overfamiliar with the person (or people) on stage or from the production team finding excuses to pelt the blindfolded panellists with projectiles or otherwise assault them. Replaced in some 2005 episodes with "Claim to Fame", in which each team would have to ask questions of a sporting figure identified only by their first name to establish what their sporting claim to fame was (generally having won an Olympic gold medal or similar accolade).
- The Name Game: The closing round of each show; the regular comedians would be given a set of cards with the names of sporting personalities on them and have to give their teammates clues as to their identities (the only rule being that they could not use rhyming clues, such as "Rubbish cricketer, hair as white as flour" for "David Gower"). Variations included requiring the comedians to give clues in mime, as impressions, or as Pictionary-style drawings. Generally, the first few names would be relatively familiar, and the rest would be obscure and often suggestive, leading the comedians to come up with increasingly creative ways to convey the names. Occasionally replaced in the 2005 series by "Sporting Vogue", in which the comedians (or, occasionally, team captains) would have to re-enact famous sporting photographs, and their teammates would have to identify the subjects.
This show provides examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming:
- In a Series 7 episode with Jonathan Ross, Curtis Walker, and Steve Cram, Jonathan (still a recurring guest at the time) went on an extended Take That! during "Excuses" at how badly Gary Lineker had aged after seeing a video montage of him attempting to head the ball into the goal in three different matches and missing completely each time. He ended by forgetting which team captain was which and saying, "David, my heart's with you."Nick Hancock: His name's Gary. [audience laughter and applause as Gary looks relieved] That's- that's showbiz!
- In a Series 13 episode with Kevin Flynn and James Cracknell, Nick Hancock accidentally addressed Kevin as Mike - twice. When Kevin corrected him, David Gower "accidentally" addressed him as Mike as well. This became a Running Gag for the rest of the episode, and when Jonathan Ross accidentally referred to Gary Lineker's Match of the Day co-presenter as Mike Lawrenson, the production team decided to join in the joke as well and displayed the scores at the end of the first round as "03 Mike - Mike 03".
- In a Series 7 episode with Jonathan Ross, Curtis Walker, and Steve Cram, Jonathan (still a recurring guest at the time) went on an extended Take That! during "Excuses" at how badly Gary Lineker had aged after seeing a video montage of him attempting to head the ball into the goal in three different matches and missing completely each time. He ended by forgetting which team captain was which and saying, "David, my heart's with you."
- All Germans Are Nazis:
- Invoked by Rory McGrath in a Series 5 episode with Frankie Dettori and Alistair McGowan in which Rory and Lee Hurst had to draw Pictionary-style clues for "The Name Game". One of Rory's names was German Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher; Rory drew a swastika and a sketch of a Formula 1 car, which was enough for Gary and Alistair to get the correct answer.Nick Hancock: It's time to forget!
- Invoked by both teams in the 2002 Christmas special, in which the clues for "The Name Game" had to be given in mime. When giving a clue for Boris Becker, Jonathan Ross mimed playing tennis, made a "shagging" motion with his arms,note then put his finger on his upper lip and did a Nazi salute while goose stepping; when giving a clue for Michael Schumacher (again), Rory McGrath mimed driving a car and then made the same finger-on-lip-Nazi-salute gesture.
- Invoked by Rory McGrath in a Series 5 episode with Frankie Dettori and Alistair McGowan in which Rory and Lee Hurst had to draw Pictionary-style clues for "The Name Game". One of Rory's names was German Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher; Rory drew a swastika and a sketch of a Formula 1 car, which was enough for Gary and Alistair to get the correct answer.
- Amusing Injuries: The whole point of the "Injury Board" round. The panel would be shown an athlete and an unlikely person or object responsible for said athlete being unable to play, race, etc., and have to offer the explanation for the bizarre injury. Examples included Chelsea goalkeeper Dave Beasant breaking his foot by dropping a bottle of salad cream on it,note and Chelsea midfielder Dennis Wise running to a toilet to be sick after having too much to drink, slipping on the floor, and hitting his head on the bowl.
- Annoying Laugh: Invoked in a Series 2 episode with John Gordon Sinclair and Kriss Akabusi; Akabusi's distinctive loud, staccato laugh prompted Nick Hancock to begin the episode with a "do not adjust your set" disclaimer.Nick Hancock: In case there are any sound problems, don't interfere with your set, it'll be Kriss laughing. [Kriss laughs]
- Audience Participation: Occasionally employed, just as often subverted.
- In the Series 2 opener with Neil Morrissey and Ian Wright, David Gower and Lee Hurst's "Feel the Sportsman" guest was infamous footballing hard man Vinnie Jones. When told their guest was Welsh "in the same way that Prince Charles is Welsh", Lee guessed that his name was Jones, and although they did not successfully guess that it was specifically Vinnie Jones, Lee and Neil appealed to the audience to cheer if they thought David's team should get points. The audience cheered... and an unimpressed Nick Hancock replied, "What the [bleep]'s it got to do with you!?"
- In a Series 5 episode with Sharron Davies and Phill Jupitus, the "Sporting Bluff" question for David Gower's team offered three possible groups for which Cameroonian footballer Roger Milla had organised a tournament: one-legged players, cannibals, or pygmies. Lee Hurst asked the audience to shout "Yo!" for whichever option they believed; the loudest one was for one-legged players. David, however, overruled the audience and chose pygmies. And he was right!
- In a Series 6 episode with Jo Brand, Greg Rusedski, and Fred MacAulay, David Gower's team were given an "Excuses" question asking for Lothar Matthäus' excuse for Germany's 3-0 defeat to Croatia in the 1998 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals. When Nick asked David, Jo, and Greg who the Germans had blamed, an audience member shouted, "Gary Lineker!" An unamused Nick asked staff to remove the culprit, saying, "It's not The Price is Right, you know!"
- The 2000 Christmas special finished level after "The Name Game", so, in a Call Back to "Feel the Sportsman" in which David Gower and Jonathan Ross had had to identify British mashed potato wrestling champions Lisa Donner and Lienka Hanzeloba as they wrestled in a vat of potato, Nick had David and Gary wrestle each other in the vat, and asked the audience to cheer for whichever they thought had won. The cheers were louder for Gary, so his team were declared the winners of the episode.
- The 2002 Christmas special featured a spoof "Pin the Ponytail on the David Seaman" game played by guests Phil Tufnell and Steve Cram. Even though Steve pinned his ponytail to David Seaman's nose while Phil pinned his ponytail to the back of his head, Nick Hancock let the audience shout the name of the person whom they thought had won, and the cheers were louder for Steve, so his captain, Gary Lineker, received a point.
- Bait and Switch:
- A staple of the series' jokes. For example, in a Series 14 episode with Tony Gubba and Tracy Edwards, Rory McGrath was interested in Edwards' recent round-the-world yacht journey leading an all female crew, and said the big question he wanted to ask was "Did you all menstruate together... in the Spurs dressing room, Gary?"
- In a Series 7 episode with Jonathan Ross, Curtis Walker, and Steve Cram, "What's Going On?" tasked David Gower's team with explaining footage of cowboy poker, in which a poker table and chairs are set up in an arena into which a raging bull is released; the last person still seated is the winner. For Gary Lineker and Rory McGrath's turn on "Feel the Sportsman", a table and chairs were put in the middle of the stage, while Gary and Rory were given cowboy hats to put on with their blindfolds, and as the mystery guests were led on, the panellists heard the sound of a bull grunting, and Gary grabbed the table to defend himself. The actual guests? British arm-wrestling champions Dean Watson and Robert Brown.
- Berserk Button: By Nick Hancock's own admission, he tended to get defensive bordering on angry if the panellists insulted his hometown of Stoke-on-Trent or Stoke City FC (confusing the latter with their cross-town rivals Port Vale FC was a guaranteed way to get on his bad side). Since Stoke is regarded as a Place Worse Than Death by most of the rest of Great Britain, neither the captains nor the resident comedians were especially shy about making anti-Stoke jokes.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: The series had a Running Gag that Rory McGrath was inclined toward this particular sexual depravity. For example, in a Series 12 episode with Paul Merson and Lawrence Dallaglio, Gary Lineker's team were shown footage of the all-French porcaillade (pig festival) in which attendees were imitating pigs, leading to the following series of autocue jokes from Nick Hancock:Nick: Up until a few years ago, it was thought that pigs couldn't sweat. That was until they saw Rory at the sty door with his overalls round his ankles. [audience laughter] Every pig grunt means a specific thing. [grunt] means "Bring food." [longer grunt] means "Rain approaching." And [squeal] means "Rory's at the sty door with his overalls round his ankles." [more audience laughter] A pig... a pig can run a mile in seven minutes. Unfortunately, Rory can run a mile in six minutes... with his overalls round his ankles.
- Biting-the-Hand Humour: One of the series' Running Gags was The BBC's steady loss of the broadcasting rights to most major sporting events to ITV and BSkyB (Gary Lineker was particularly put out when Match of the Day gave way to ITV's The Premiership in 2001), resulting in many jokes about the corporation being reduced to showing conkers (then-Grandstand presenter Steve Rider joked that they only had highlights), the World Whistling Championship, shove ha'penny, and the World Gurning Championships.note On several episodes, the panellists joked that the mass migration of sport broadcasts meant They Think It's All Over had become the BBC's flagship sport programme.
- Brain Bleach: In the Series 18 opener with Tommy Docherty and Adam Woodyatt, a tangent during the opening quickfire question round about then-England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson led to Tommy describing Sven's then-girlfriend, Nancy Dell'Olio, as "Jack Palance with boobs." Nick Hancock said he'd never be able to get that image out of his mind.
- Call Back: In several episodes, one of the guests in "Feel the Sportsman" would be at the centre of a story referenced earlier in the episode. For example, the 1999 Christmas special referred to a magazine article in which gay cabaret performer Paul Hull named Gary Lineker as a celebrity crush; Hull was then brought on for Gary and Rory to identify during "Feel the Sportsman" (Rory seemed to be in on the joke, as he mostly left the identification up to Gary). Gary eventually started writing down the names of people referenced in the early rounds in case he needed to remember them for "Feel the Sportsman".
- Catch Phrase: After Jonathan Ross became a regular panellist, whenever Nick Hancock asked his team their first question of the episode, Jonathan would almost always begin by saying "Before we start, can I just say..." as a segue into "welcoming" his guest teammate to the panel with a line of questioning that was either facetious (if the guest was male) or flirtatious (if the guest was female). Eventually, Nick began Facepalming while either laughing or groaning as soon as Jonathan said "Before we start..." after his team's first question.
- Censored for Comedy: As detailed in Product Placement, when Gary Lineker was replaced as the face of Walker's Crisps by Michael Owen (or, rather, recast as the villain of the ad campaign with Owen the hero) in 1998, he still insisted on mentioning them in every episode to try and get back into the company's good graces. Nick Hancock announced at the beginning of a Series 6 episode with Jo Brand, Greg Rusedski, and Fred MacAulay that, following complaints by Golden Wonder, the word "Walker" would be treated as a swear word and bleeped; the bleeping was done in such a way that the beginning and end of the word were still audible, making it sound as though the word being bleeped was "wanker".
- Cheaters Never Prosper: The teams were not above bending or breaking the rules in the interest of getting points (especially if it provided laughs), but they weren't always allowed to get away with it.
- Gary Lineker's team, especially Rory McGrath, were by far the most frequent offenders.
- Gary and Rory's career of dishonesty began in a Series 1 episode with Ally McCoist and Hugh Dennis, in which they poked holes in their blindfolds with needles to help them identify their "Feel the Sportsman" guest, snooker player Willie Thorne. In the 1995 Christmas Episode, Nick Hancock announced that, as a result, even though Gary's team had won three episodes while David's team had won two and one had finished as a draw, victory for the series was retroactively awarded to David's team.
- In a Series 6 episode with Jo Brand, Gabby Yorath, and Pauline McLynn, Gary's team won by 1 point, but Nick Hancock revealed that they had only identified a quote from Roger Black's autobiography two weeks earlier because Gary had sweet talked the autocue girl into giving him the answer (Rory protested; he was the one who had sweet talked the autocue girl). He docked Gary's team 1 point, and they lost in a tiebreak.
- In a Series 9 episode with Shane Howarth and Rich Hall, it emerged that Rich, who was on Gary's team, had taken a peek at Nick Hancock's card for "The Name Game" before the round began when he blurted out "Andrew McClardy!" one card before McClardy's name came up. Gary's team were initially docked three points, but the following week, Nick retroactively declared David's team the winners following more complaints. At the next recording after that, Gary was replaced as team captain by his Match of the Day co-presenter Mark Lawrenson for, according to Nick, "bringing the programme into disrepute".
- Gary's team won a Series 10 episode with Johnny Vegas and Jason Queally, but Nick Hancock played a recording of an autocue writer who claimed that Rory had bribed her with champagne to give him the answers to questions in advance. Nick awarded the episode to David's team.
- Later in Series 10, Gary's team won an episode with Audley Harrison and Ashley Giles by the score 17-12. However, after "The Name Game", Nick Hancock announced that it had come to light that Rory had bribed the guest booker for "Feel the Sportsman" with money several weeks earlier to tell him who their subjects would be, and once again awarded the episode to David's team.
- In a Series 12 episode with Alec Stewart and Clive Anderson, Rory McGrath claimed that a goal celebration by Emile Heskey in England's 5-1 away victory against Germany in 2001 in which he mimed swinging a golf club was a reference to a charity match he had played against Nick Faldo. Nick Hancock revealed that although that was what he had written on the card, it was a complete fabrication (the celebration was actually a tribute to Heskey's sporting hero, Tiger Woods), and the only way Rory could have known that would have been from looking at the card. And since he had also given the unlikely correct explanations for questions in two of the previous three episodes involving Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova falling out after a charity doubles match in Chile and the Renault Formula 1 team's technical director's claims that their computers were being hacked by ex-East German Stasi members, Nick not only awarded them zero points for the Heskey question, but retroactively docked Gary's team three points for each of the previous two episodes, meaning David's team not only won this episode, but the previous two as well.
- In a Series 13 episode with guest captains Matthew Pinsent (replacing David) and Steve Davis (replacing Gary) and guests John Francome and Jo Brand, Rory McGrath somehow knew that Jonas Bjorkman's celebratory silly walk following a straight sets defeat of Tim Henman at the 2002 Australian Open was a tribute to Swedish comedy team Galenskaparna and After Shave. Nick Hancock was clearly sceptical but awarded them the points; however, the following week, he announced that "an independent investigation" had concluded that although there was no obvious evidence of cheating, precedent suggested that "Rory McGrath is a big fat cheating git." He retroactively awarded the episode to David's team.
- In a Series 13 episode with Barry Davies and Junior Simpson, Rory gave an incredibly detailed explanation, complete with the names of every player involved, for why Millwall Reserves allowed Bournemouth Reserves to simply walk the ball into the goal after kick-off (to make up for a miscommunication during a backpass by a Bournemouth player). As Rory wasn't even trying to hide the fact that he'd been given the answers, Nick Hancock docked Gary's team three points instead of awarding them three points, and gave David's team twenty points. Unsurprisingly, David's team won comfortably by 33 points to 7 1/2 (Gary's team having received half a point when Rory - to much eye-rolling from Nick - correctly answered David's team's "Celebrations" question).
- In the 2002 Christmas special, while the six panellists were trying their luck with a "Test Your Strength" machine, Gary Lineker decided to sneak a look at his team's cards for "The Name Game". His team were promptly docked ten points, putting them 6-2 behind guest captain Steve Davis. However, this did not stop him from reading off the list he had copied down when the game actually began (in one case admitting he couldn't read his own handwriting), causing the producers to end the round early when they were trailing by just one point.
- In the 1980s special from Series 15 with Stephen Hendry and Kriss Akabusi, Rory McGrath was dressed as Boy George and took his place for "Feel the Sportsman" while holding a masquerade party-style "blindfold", which he made no effort to keep in place after his and Gary's mystery guest, Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter Allan Wells, took his place. Eventually, Rory simply handed his blindfold to Wells while saying, "Here, hold this, Allan." Nick Hancock awarded them no points for the round, and they lost by five points.
- In a Series 15 episode with guest captain Sharron Davies (replacing David), Graeme Le Saux, and Dave Fulton, the producers once again baited Gary's team, through Fulton, into giving a made-up answer to the Welsh rugby union team's excuse for losing their 2003 Six Nations clash with Italy (namely, that they were weighted down with carbs from eating too much pasta). Nick Hancock awarded them three points, then rescinded them immediately, docked them two previous victories (later reduced to one), and they lost the episode (and, two weeks later, the series) in a tiebreak.
- Jonathan Ross managed to avert this trope in a Series 17 episode with Matt Le Tissier and Phil Taylor. In honour of "Feel the Sportsman" guest Darren Carter, the British solo pedal car champion, Nick Hancock declared that Jonathan and Phil Tufnell would have a Le Mans-style relay race in two pedal cars against Rory McGrath and David Seaman. Jonathan began the race by picking up the front of Rory's car and turning it sideways on after Rory had already climbed into it, forcing him to get out again and turn the car to face forwards; the resulting delay ultimately handed Jonathan and Phil the race, earning them a bonus point.
- Gary Lineker's team, especially Rory McGrath, were by far the most frequent offenders.
- Christmas Episode: Once a year from 1995 to 2002, often heralded by having the panellists dress up in pantomime-style costumes (in 1997, Gary Lineker was dressed as the title character from Oliver!, while in 2000, Jonathan Ross was dressed as a pantomime cow).
- Clip Show: Several compilations were produced and either broadcast in the series' usual time slot in place of a new episode or released on video. The compilations often included clips that were edited out of the original broadcast for time considerations or, in the video releases, content reasons.
- A compilation episode of clips from Series 2 aired in 1996 between Series 2 and 3.
- A video compilation entitled They Think It's All Over: Below the Belt was released in 1998, including clips and deleted scenes from the first five series.
- The final episode of Series 10 was a compilation of the thirty funniest clips from the first ten series.
- A special entitled They Think It's Uber Alles aired between Series 11 and 12 (specifically, a few hours after England defeated Germany 5-1 in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Munich), compiling clips of questions about English football and the relationship between England and Germany both in and outside the world of sport.
- Series 14 included two compilations of clips and deleted scenes, assembled from both series that had aired in 2002.
- Couch Gag: Nick Hancock would often include a topical gag at the end of each show (usually beginning with "We're all off to...") between thanking the panellists and signing off. Just to give a few examples:
- In a Series 5 episode with John Moloney and then-Minister of Sport Tony Banks MP, Nick made a joke about the latter's ability to keep his Cabinet position despite a series of gaffes by saying, "We're all off to see if Tony's still got a job."
- In a Series 9 episode with Nasser Hussain and James Hewitt, Nick acknowledged Hewitt's reputation as a serial womaniser (whose past loves included the late Diana, Princess of Wales) by saying, "We're all off home to our wives before James gets there."
- In a Series 12 episode with Ricky Tomlinson and David Elleray, Nick did a Call Back to a story about referees being prohibited from having marital relations the night before a match to keep them from being distracted on the pitch by saying, "It's Friday night, so we're all off to meet up with some referees' wives."
- In a Series 15 episode with guest captain Steve Davis (replacing David), Steve Rider, and Ronnie O'Sullivan, Nick did a Call Back to a story about a streaker at a snooker tournament who wore a Sven-Goran Eriksson mask by saying, "We're all off to confiscate Rory's Sven mask."
- Country Matters:
- Invoked in a Series 9 episode with Clive Lloyd and Rory Bremner, when Rory McGrath suggested that footage in "What's Going On?" of Reading fans waving giant pairs of underpants was a reference to the acronym "Plymouth Argyle: Notoriously Terrific Supporters".note He suggested that Cambridge United had a similar acronym. Jonathan Ross wondered what the fans held up in reference to that acronym, and asked Rory to tell him when he found out; Rory countered that they could always hold up Jonathan himself.
- The shocking nature of the word was referenced again in a Series 12 episode with Fiona Allen and Audley Harrison in which both teams and Nick Hancock had swear jars to collect money for Children In Need. Jonathan produced two stacks of banknotes, one for F-bombs and one he described as his "(bleep) money"; the motions of his mouth made it obvious which word had been censored. Nick suggested that the people who paid Jonathan had the same term for said money.
- The word was danced around again in a Series 19 episode with Martin Offiah and Darren Gough. During "Claim to Fame", Ian's team had established that their guest, "John from Northamptonshire", was famous for a horse-racing feat.note Rory noted that they must be talking National Hunt, which he said was rhyming slang for "Jonathan Ross".
- The word's shock value was hinted at one final time in the 2006 World Cup special when, during "The Name Game", Rory's clue for the first name of Ecuadorian footballer Wellington Sanchez was a boot named after a famous Duke. Ian guessed "Kent". Rory noted that he was thinking of a very similar word at that moment.
- In both 1999 and 2001, the series crossed over with Have I Got News for You and Never Mind the Buzzcocks for a Comic Relief special entitled Have I Got Buzzcocks All Over, presented by Angus Deayton. Nick Hancock was a captain on both specials (accompanied by Phil Tufnell and newsreader Carol Barnes in 1999, and by David Gower and Stephen Fry in 2001), and in both specials his team played variations on "Feel the Sportsman" ("Feel the Pop Star" in 1999 with guest Samantha Fox, "Feel the Politician" in 2001 with guest Roy Hattersleynote ), while the 2001 special finished with "The Name Game" but with names from politics and pop music as well as sport.
- In both 2002 and 2004, the series crossed over with its spiritual predecessor, A Question of Sport, for a Sport Relief special entitled They Think It's a Question of Sport, presented by Stephen Fry. Nick Hancock was the captain of the They Think It's All Over team in both specials (accompanied by Gary Lineker and Frank Skinner in 2002, and by Phil Tufnell and Phill Jupitus in 2004), while Sue Barker captained the Question of Sport both times (accompanied by Ally McCoist both times, and by John Parrott in 2002 and Frankie Dettori in 2004). Rounds imported from They Think It's All Over for the 2002 special included "Excuses" and "Feel the Sportsman" (with guests Jimmy Hill and Burnley FC mascot Bertie the Bee, the latter a Call Back to a "What Happened Next?" clip in which he tackled a streaker); the 2004 special featured no rounds from They Think It's All Over, although the "Picture Board" round took a cue from "Photo-fit" by featuring images of two sportspeople spliced together.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: In the 1995 Christmas special, Gary Lineker's team's "Sing When You're Winning" question featured a single recorded by Dunfermline Athletic FC in 1986 to the tune of the EastEnders theme, the refrain of which began, "We're the team they call the Pars / Promotion is our aim, and this is our season..." After Gary's team failed to guess correctly, Nick Hancock passed across to David Gower's team, and Lee Hurst suggested that they forgot the words and mumbled the next two lines. Which, as the correct answer was that they sang "La la la" for the next two lines, was enough to earn them a bonus point.
- Curse Cut Short: A print version of this trope featured in a Series 2 episode with John Gordon Sinclair and Kriss Akabusi. During the "Electronic Pencil" round, in which the teams were tasked with establishing where the ball went in a veterans' tennis match between Jimmy Connors and Guillermo Vilas, Lee Hurst said he'd make John Gordon Sinclair feel at home and wrote "7-0" on the screen (a Call Back to Tommy Docherty's Lame Excuse for why Scotland lost to Uruguay by that score in the 1954 FIFA World Cup). John took the pen and got as far as writing an F and half of a U before Lee grabbed the pen back.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In a Series 15 episode with guest captain Steve Davis (replacing David), Steve Rider, and Ronnie O'Sullivan, "Sporting Bluff" featured footage of Davis being interviewed by Janet Street-Porter in 1979. Nick Hancock lampshaded the fact that during the clip, Davis was rather obsessively running his hand up and down his snooker cue while talking to Street-Porter, leading to the inevitable question from the other panellists of whether it was the first conversation he'd had with a real woman.
- Don't Explain the Joke: Invoked in a Series 12 episode with Austin Healey and Paul Ross (Jonathan's brother). During discussion of a "Sporting Bluff" question asking whether John Motson, Gary Lineker, or Anne Robinson had been declared to have the perfect voice for football commentary by a scientific study,note Austin joked that after all his years on The BBC, Gary had taken to advertising Sky dishes. When the audience didn't react, he explained that said "advertisements" were on the side of his head. Gary was not amused:Gary Lineker: If you have to explain a joke, it's never a good one. [audience "ooh"s]
Nick Hancock: [sarcastically] Thank you, Bob Monkhouse!
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- In each episode of Series 1 and 2, Nick Hancock included brief introductions of David Gower and Gary Lineker, then of Lee Hurst and Rory McGrath, as well as of both guest panellists. By Series 3, he had scaled back to just introducing the guests, as the regulars had become established.
- In the first two series, there was a "half-time" round in which the teams were tasked with providing a Gag Dub for a piece of sporting footage, such as David, Lee, and Steve Cram pretending that the reason John McEnroe threw a tantrum at Wimbledon was because the pizza he had ordered for lunch hadn't arrived, or Gary, Rory, and Craig Charles pretending that a touchline fracas at the Republic of Ireland's 1994 FIFA World Cup match against Mexico involved an argument over the players not actually being Irish (with Charles voicing the Liverpool-born John Aldridge).note No points were awarded for this round.
- A Series 1 episode with Ally McCoist and Hugh Dennis finished level after "The Name Game" and was declared a draw. Starting with the first episode of Series 2, any episode that finished level after "The Name Game" would go to a Sudden Death round.
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Jonathan Ross famously has trouble pronouncing the letter "R", which led to all sorts of laughs if he had to pronounce a name with multiple appearances of the letter.[from a "Sporting Bluff" round about how then-Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri learned English]
Alec Stewart: [reading card] Mr. Ranieri... well, he learned his English from watching EastEnders.
David Gower: [reading card] Claudio Ranieri learned English from Chelsea fans.
Jonathan Ross: [reading card] Claudio Waniewi learned English... [gets cut off by laughter from audience and Nick Hancock; looks around in mock confusion] Claudio Waniewi learned... [gets cut off again by more laughter]
Nick Hancock: Say "Gianluca Vialli", you'll be all right.
Jonathan: That bloke learned English by going to see West End musicals.
- Everything's Sexier in French: In the Series 15 finale with guest captain Sharron Davies (replacing David), Roger Black, and Graham Poll, Rory McGrath, Nick Hancock, and Jonathan Ross combined this trope with Gratuitous French while discussing the Naked Olympics. Rory punctuated his suggestion that surely the doughnut-eating event should be a ladies' event with the doughnuts placed over the men's reproductive organs by saying, "n'est-ce pas?", leading Nick and especially Jonathan to make various other obscene comments but punctuate them with such phrases as "comme ci, comme ça", "pourquoi pas?", and "c'est vrai!" to lend them a bit of class.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
- Rory McGrath not only mentioned this trope by name in the Series 6 opener with Alan Davies, Frank Leboeuf, and Arthur Smith, but he even referenced the Trope Namer, Ronseal Quick Drying Woodstain, when he asked Frank in Gratuitous French if, since he was bald, he had ever considered using Ronseal on his head. He added, "Il fait exactement qu'il dit sur l'étain!"
- Nick Hancock referenced this trope by name in a Series 7 episode with Jonathan Ross, Curtis Walker, and Steve Cram for an autocue gag during "Excuses". He observed that the performance-enhancing drug gonadatrophin is so named because it atrophies the gonads, and pointed at the camera while adding, "It does exactly what it says on the tin."
- Fandom Rivalry: Frequently referenced in-universe in "Sing When You're Winning", and not just limited to top-flight sides; for example, in the 1996 Christmas special, David Gower's team had to complete the chant with which Scotland's East Fife FC taunt their local rivals Cowdenbeath FC (sung to the tune of the theme from The Addams Family):"They come frae near Lochgelly
They havnae got a telly
They're dirty and they're smelly
The Cowden family"
- Filk Song: Sometimes found in "Sing When You're Winning", with the terrace chants of various clubs set to the tunes of folk or pop songs or television theme tunes. For example, in the No Holds Barred video episode, Sunderland fans sang the following spoof version of the folk song "In My Liverpool Home"note :"In your Liverpool homes
In your Liverpool homes
You speak with an accent exceedingly rarenote
You all wear pink shell suits and have curly hair
In your Liverpool homes"
- Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Gary Lineker and Rory McGrath attempted to invoke this in a Series 14 episode with Sharron Davies and Mark Waugh, after asking Mark if he and his twin brother Steve had twin telepathy. It took three attempts before they managed it successfully.Rory McGrath: Gary and I have worked out this sort of telepathy, we've been on this, er, show so often together, that we actually...
Gary Lineker: ... finish each other's sentences. [muted audience laughter]
Nick Hancock: That was pathetic! That was really awful! The only way you could have made that worse, Da- er, Gary, was to have said, "Is it now? Do I say it now?"
- Foreign Queasine: In a Series 8 episode with Frankie Dettori and Sean Meo, Gary Lineker's team's "What's Going On?" footage featured an octopus playing football, leading Gary to recall a visit to a restaurant during his brief Japanese playing career in which a live octopus had been brought to the table as the main course. He had assumed they would cook it first, but a woman with a sabre chopped off one of the octopus' tentacles and put it in his bowl, so he had to eat it. He added he could still feel it wriggling in his mouth as he ate it.Jonathan Ross: Gary, d'you think when you left the restaurant, they said, "If that doesn't send the boring bastard home, nothing will!"?
- Freudian Slip: In a Series 18 episode with Alastair Campbell and Will Carling, one of the names in "The Name Game" for Phil Tufnell's team was England cricket captain Nasser Hussain; Jonathan pointed to Alastair and said, "Same name as the bloke you put out of work." Alastair guessed "Bush". It took a few seconds for his verbal slip to register with the audience and the panel.Jonathan Ross: Hullo! That's good news! You heard it here first!
- French Jerk: In the Series 6 opener with Alan Davies, Frank Leboeuf, and Arthur Smith, Frank repeatedly reacted to witticisms at his expense by declaring, "I don't care, I won the World Cup!" In a Series 8 episode with Frankie Dettori and Sean Meo, he claimed in a recorded segment for "Excuses" that Gary Lineker had advised him to adopt the French jerk persona for comic effect during his appearance, and that it had backfired when many Premiership footballers assumed he was being genuinely arrogant and began aggressively fouling him at every opportunity.
- Fun with Acronyms: In a Series 9 episode with Clive Lloyd and Rory Bremner, "What's Going On?" featured footage of Reading fans waving giant pairs of underpants during a 2-1 home defeat to Wrexham. Rory McGrath suggested that it was an acronym in honour of Plymouth Argyle's fans, with PANTS standing for "Plymouth Argyle: Notoriously Terrific Supporters". He added that Cambridge United had a simliar acronym. Although it was an acronym, it actually stood for "Players Are Not Trying Sufficiently" (as well as a reference to "pants" being British slang for "bad").
- Fun with Subtitles:
- In a Series 4 episode with Steve Collins and Tony Hawks, an autocue gag about snooker player Jimmy White referenced the fact that he was illiterate until early adulthood (having spent more time in snooker halls than in school as a child). Nick declared, "Jimmy White, of course, is famous for not being able to read. But we don't care, Jimmy, we think you're a truly great player." He grinned at the camera as the subtitle "HE'S RUBBISH" flashed at the bottom of the screen.
- In a Series 6 episode with Jo Brand, Greg Rusedski, and Fred MacAulay, the excuse given by German national football team captain Lothar Matthäus for their 3-0 defeat to Croatia in the 1998 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals was delivered by a "typical German fan" in German, subtitled in English. He then asked, in English, if he could take off the monocle he had been told to wear as part of his "costume"; his request was subtitled in German."Typical German Fan": Er, can I take this monocle out now, please?
Subtitle: Darf ich diese einzelbrille jetzt abnehmen, bitte?
- Gag Dub: The "Half-time" round in Series 1 and 2 amounted to this, as the teams would talk over sporting footage with the soundtrack removed and provide new commentary. For example, in a Series 1 episode with John Motson and Alistair McGowan, the producers took advantage of McGowan's talent for impressions by asking him to provide a commentary track as both Alan Hansen and Trevor Brooking for the 1994 low-speed chase of O.J. Simpson's Ford Bronco through the streets of Los Angeles, with "Alan Hansen" criticising the LAPD for using a "flat back four" (four police cruisers driving exactly side-by-side).
- Gratuitous French: In the Series 6 opener with Alan Davies, Frank Leboeuf, and Arthur Smith, Rory McGrath's first words of the evening were a greeting to Leboeuf in French, telling him it was a great honour to have him on the show. He then turned to the audience and claimed that he had asked Leboeuf if he was having problems with the language barrier at Chelsea, and in particular if he had been able to teach Dennis Wise how to speak English. He followed this by asking, again in French, if Frank had ever considered using Ronseal Quick Drying Woodstain on his bald head, explaining to the audience that "Il fait exactement qu'il dit sur l'étain!"
- Gratuitous German: For Boris Becker's debut as team captain in the Series 19 opener with Nasser Hussain and Jermain Defoe, Rory McGrath decided to welcome Boris by reciting the first line of the "To be or not to be" soliloquy from Hamlet in German: "Sein oder nicht sein, das ist die Frage." To which Boris responded, "Jawol."
- Gratuitous Spanish:
- In a Series 9 episode with guest captain Mark Lawrenson (replacing Gary) and guest panellists John Toshack and Neil Morrissey, at one point Rory (who holds a degree in modern languages from Cambridge) began holding a conversation with Toshack (who has managed a number of clubs in La Liga) in Spanish about Gary Lineker's playing career at Barcelona (at a time when Toshack was managing Spanish club Real Sociedad).
- In the Series 12 episode with Fiona Allen and Audley Harrison featuring The Swear Jar, Rory noted that he, Gary, and Fiona Allen all spoke Spanish, and they promptly embarked on a torrent of Spanish profanity (alternating with contributing to the swear jar).
- Groin Attack:
- In the Series 6 opener with Alan Davies, Frank Leboeuf, and Arthur Smith, David Gower and Alan Davies' "Feel the Sportsman" guest was boxer Jane Couch, who kept taking punches at David and Alan throughout the round. After Alan complained at having been punched in the head twice, she punched him in the groin instead.
- In a Series 12 episode with Austin Healey and Paul Ross, Jonathan chided Gary Lineker for not ironing his jeans as he and Rory McGrath took their positions for "Feel the Sportsman". Rory joked that Gary had a personal iron: Mark Lawrenson. An unimpressed Gary took advantage of the fact that Rory had already donned his blindfold by walking across the stage and kicking him in the groin.Nick Hancock: There's a first! Lineker actually runs five yards to kick ball.
- In a Series 15 episode with guest captain Sharron Davies (replacing David), Richard Burns, and Ricky Hatton, Jonathan Ross accidentally found Sharron before their "Feel the Sportsman" guest, triathlete Jodie Swallow. Sharron responded to Jonathan's "advances" by kneeing him in the groin.
- High-Class Glass: In a Series 6 episode with Jo Brand, Greg Rusedski, and Fred MacAulay, German footballer Lothar Matthäus was "mysteriously" unwilling to record a piece to camera giving his excuse for Germany's elimination from the 1998 FIFA World Cup at the hands of Croatia, so the explanation was instead delivered by a "typical German fan" - who was made to look like a stereotypical snooty continental European with the addition of an unnecessary monocle.
- Hollywood Voodoo: In the Series 6 opener with Alan Davies, Frank Leboeuf, and Arthur Smith, Alan was sitting in what had previously been Lee Hurst's seat. He claimed that Lee had left some strange things under the desk, and after producing a curly blond wig and a framed picture of Margaret Thatcher, he revealed a doll with pins sticking out of it and Gary Lineker's face pasted onto the head.
- Ho Yay: Invoked by Jonathan Ross when discussing Gary Lineker and his Match of the Day co-presenter Mark Lawrenson; Jonathan regularly made jokes that they were in a serious relationship with each other and peppered their punditry with liberal use of Double Entendre as a result.
- Hurricane of Puns: A clip of cows re-enacting the Euro 2000 semi-final between Italy and the Netherlands in a Series 11 episode with Dion Dublin and Ralf Little sparked one of these:Gary Lineker: That's one of Rory's dreams, wasn't it? Cowdenbeath versus Uddersfield! [audience cheers]
Nick Hancock: It's Frisian out there! [mix of laughter and groans] I'm giving an example of the sort of stuff he would do, obviously I wouldn't choose to do that joke.
Jonathan Ross: But Nick, that wasn't a bad joke, but then you had to go and milk it.
Rory McGrath: Come on, come on!
Nick: Well, at least I have the bottle! [thumps desk] That's enough!
Dion Dublin: Did we see Steve Bull in that clip, maybe?
Jonathan: You're joking, but that clip frightened the life out of me! That was like a frightening vision of the future where cows rule the world! Playing football with a giant ball made out of human skin! And watch a lovely light-hearted TV sports quiz like this one where everyone is a cow! Apart from me, because even in that world I could still get the cow ladies to lactate lovingly. [licks lips suggestively, then winks]
Gary: Jonathan! Did you get the horn?
Ralf Little: They watch They Think It's All Clover.
Nick: Oh, please, God, let me die now!
- Hypocritical Humour:
- Jonathan and Rory McGrath both had a tendency to get overfamiliar with the guests during "Feel the Sportsman", Jonathan perhaps more so than Rory, but they still saw fit to make jokes at each others' expense about how one day the man or woman or team being groped would take such exception to their treatment that they'd end up in court or in hospital.
- In a Series 7 episode with Jonathan Ross, Lee Mack, and Clare Balding, Jonathan, who was wearing a dragon print blazer, declared during "Temper, Temper" that the reason for English cricketer Darren Gough's blowup at Sri Lanka's Roshan Mahanama was because of the blue kits cricketers had to wear, describing them as looking like buffoons in shell suits. Lee added, "Says a man who looks like Fu Manchu's rent boy!"
- In a Series 9 episode with Gabby Yorath and Jo Brand, Jonathan Ross mocked Formula 1 driver Jenson Button for having such a posh name. David Gower noted that Jonathan had no room to complain about silly names given how he and his wife had named their children (Betty Kitten Ross, Harvey Kirby Ross, and Honey Kinney Ross).
- Jonathan Ross was by far the most talkative panellist after becoming a regular, but this didn't stop him from cursing out David Gower for talking over his clues during "The Name Game" in the Series 12 episode with The Swear Jar, Audley Harrison, and Fiona Allen. He likened Gower's comments to his childhood Christmases when his grandfather would talk all the way through the Christmas Day film on television. Nick Hancock fired back, "And now it's you!"
- In the Series 18 opener with Tommy Docherty and Adam Woodyatt, Jonathan Ross, displaying his usual tact (or lack thereof), described synchronised diving as "the gayest sport in the world". The following week, Nick Hancock read a letter of complaint from British synchronised diving champions Peter Waterfield and Leon Taylor criticising Jonathan's homophobic slur and describing it as "a bit rich coming from someone who dresses in Elton John's castoffs and does his hair like a girl."
- In a Series 18 episode with Jodie Kidd and Suzi Perry, Ian Wright complained about the bizarre spelling of "yacht", asking why it wasn't spelled the way it sounded: "yot". Suzi pointed out that someone whose surname contained three silent letters had no room to complain, and asked if he thought his name should be spelled "Rite". Rory McGrath joked that that was how Ian did spell his name.
- In the 2006 World Cup special, Ian Wright scoffed at Boris Becker and Steffen Freund's indignation over Budweiser being declared the official beer of that year's FIFA World Cup instead of a local German beer, and said that the Germans had sold out to foreigners. Sean Lock countered by telling Ian that he was looking forward to seeing Arsenal playing in the Emirates Stadium during the following season.
- I'll Be in My Bunk: Referenced in the "Handbags" round of a Series 12 episode with Hazel Irvine and Nasser Hussain, in which Gary Lineker's team were shown footage of a ladies' doubles tennis match involving Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova. After Rory McGrath insinuated that the duo had a lesbian tryst involving tennis racket handles, Nick Hancock and Jonathan Ross gave us the following:Nick Hancock: There's going- a load of 14-year-old boys at home going, "Can I go to bed now, Mum?" "But you love this programme!" "No, I wanna go to bed now, Mum!"
Jonathan Ross: And Nick, the dad'll go, "You know, I might turn in early as well!"
- Inherently Funny Words:
- Jo Brand invoked this in tandem with demonstrations that timing is everything in comedy by getting the audience to laugh simply by mentioning the name of TV presenter Mariella Frostrup at unexpected moments. On her appearance on Gary Lineker's team in Series 1, she collected £5 from Gary when her guess of Frostrup as the writer of an "Author, Author" quote got a laugh; when she appeared on Gary's team again in Series 3 and got another (more muted) laugh by asking Nick Hancock if "Mariella Frostrup" was a "dirty" word she was allowed to say without fear of censure, she collected £10 from Gary.
- Invoked again in the Series 11 finale with Allan Border and Sean Hughes, as Sean exploited the inherently funny nature of the word "hedgehog" by working it into his answers in almost every round, starting by telling Gary Lineker that when he claimed Shane Warne was sponsored by a headgear manufacturer for "Sporting Bluff", his card actually said "hedgehog".
- In Memoriam: Parodied in-universe before a Series 17 episode with Katy Sexton and Chris Tarrant. Between the episode's recording and air date, David Seaman announced his retirement from football at the age of 40 due to a recurring shoulder injury that had flared up again that week. Before the opening credits, Nick Hancock, dressed in a grey suit and sat in front of a plain black backdrop with a floral tribute to one side, delivered a "eulogy" in a solemn tone of voice:Nick Hancock: The programme you're about to see was made before the sad departure of David Seaman from English football. With his trademark laugh and crap hairstyle, David played at the top level for nearly 97 years before age and increasingly frequent bouts of being rubbish at Man City ended his career. In a touching ceremony, he was humanely destroyed by vets just before kickoff at Leicester on Wednesday. He will be sadly missed, especially by Brazilian strikers.
- Insult to Rocks:
- In a Series 1 episode with John Motson and Alistair McGowan, Nick Hancock noted during "Photo-fit" that Graeme Souness had been awarded £750,000 in a defamation lawsuit against the Sunday People after they had compared him to a rat. He added, "The rat obviously got a million."
- In the Series 11 finale with Allan Border and Sean Hughes, Nick Hancock recalled during "Handbags" that Vinnie Jones had once insulted Gary Lineker by claiming that he had as much backbone as a jellyfish. He added that Vinnie had then been sued by a group of jellyfish.
- The Internet Is for Porn: Invoked in the 24 Hour Panel People special, which was streamed live on Dave's website at 3am. When a "Sporting Bluff" question concerning the fact that swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, shot putter Herman Brix, and decathlete Glenn Morris had all won Olympic gold and then played Tarzan on screen led to David Walliams revealing that he had pretended to be Tarzan as a child by stripping to his underwear, Nick Hancock noted that he had previously joked that he frequently deliberately forgot his PE kit at school and was made to participate in his underwear, and he suggested that if it made him more comfortable, he could strip down to his underwear for the recording. Richard Bacon quipped that at 3am on the Internet, people expected "nothing other than nudity".
- I Take Offence to That Last One:
- A Series 8 episode with Vic Henley and Geoffrey Boycott featured a variation in which it was the insulter who objected to the last word when he was quoted.Rory McGrath: The only question I'd quite like to ask you while there's a lull in the conversation, Geoffrey, is: did you ever leave a really expensive hat in the commentary box one day, and when you were out, did somebody else put it on the floor and jump up and down on it and said, "That bloody, pompous, arrogant, bigoted, Yorkshire wanker!" [Geoffrey shakes his head] And when you came back, you put it on, and walked out without realising it.
David Gower: Yeah, I didn't use the word "wanker", to be honest.
- In the Series 10 opener with guest captain Steve Davis (replacing David), Matthew Pinsent, and Arthur Smith, Nick Hancock opened the episode by announcing that The BBC had upheld a complaint about Rory McGrath's mockery of David and Victoria Beckham by a viewer, who wrote, "He brings out the worst in the English football supporter with his yobbish humour. Not forgetting that he's a Scottish tub of lard." Rory's reaction? "Irish tub of lard!"Arthur Smith: You don't dispute "lowlife" and "yobbish", though, I notice, Rory.
Rory McGrath: How long have I known you, Arthur?
- A Series 8 episode with Vic Henley and Geoffrey Boycott featured a variation in which it was the insulter who objected to the last word when he was quoted.
- Japanese Ranguage: In a Series 11 episode with Jayne Torvill and Richie Benaud, David Gower's team had to translate the phrases being shouted by the competitors in a Japanese shouting competition during "Lip-Reading". David decided to use the R/L confusion joke to poke fun at Gary Lineker's brief career at Nagoya Grampus Eight in the J-League:David Gower: Those were Grampus Eight fans, weren't they, saying, "Get that Rineker off, he's clap!"
- Just a Stupid Accent: In the Series 17 opener with Barry McGuigan and Thomas Castaignède, Jonathan Ross welcomed Thomas to the show in English, but affecting a bad French accent, leading Nick Hancock to say he had learnt all his French from 'Allo 'Allo! and Rory McGrath, who actually did speak French, to suggest to Thomas that Jonathan was an "enculé".note
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: By his own admission, Jonathan Ross hardly ever read the sport section of the newspaper or watched televised sport (he would often resort to verbal "rebus clues" in "The Name Game" as early as the first name, however well-known the athlete in question was), but this didn't stop him talking at great length and with supposed great authority on almost any subject that came up during the series.
- A Lady on Each Arm: Invoked by Jonathan Ross in a Series 14 episode with Ashia Hansen and Suzi Perry. All six panellists were playing a tiebreaking game of round-the-table table tennis for the series, and Jonathan, Ashia, and Suzi were the first three competitors eliminated, in that order. As they were knocked out, Jonathan invited first Ashia, then Suzi to sit on his knees, and, to his delight, they both accepted.Jonathan Ross: I now realise I wish I'd played more sport when I was little!
- Lame Comeback: In a Series 13 episode with guest captains Matthew Pinsent (replacing David) and Steve Davis (replacing Gary), Damon Hill, and Beverley Turner, Matthew's team's "Excuses" question concerned West Ham United's Australian defender Hayden Foxe and his excuse for relieving himself while standing on a nightclub bar during the club's Christmas party. Matthew joked that Steve had been on the receiving end of something similar at a club called "The Crucible" (the theatre that hosts the World Snooker Championships) when Ronnie O'Sullivan "pissed all over [him]". Rory McGrath encouraged Steve to return fire with a witty one-liner, and Steve simply declared, "Bollocks."
- Lame Excuse: The answers in the "Excuses" round nearly always boiled down to these. For example, according to the series' researchers, boxer Mike Tyson's excuse for biting off Evander Holyfield's ear in their 1997 fight was simply, "This is my career. I have children to raise," while mountaineer Alan Hinkes claimed that he had to abandon his plans to scale the fourteen highest peaks of the Himalayas in succession after injuring his back when he sneezed while eating a chapati.
- Lame Pun Reaction:
- The audience of They Think It's All Over tended to be less forgiving of groanworthy puns than the audiences for David's cricket commentaries or Gary's football punditry. Just to give one example for each of the team captains:
- In a Series 3 episode with Nick Owen and Phill Jupitus in which David's team had to explain how a police dog named Ginger had prevented Torquay United's Jim McNicol from playing,note David suggested Ginger had given McNicol fleas, and looked a bit sheepish as he explained that this was what is known in the business as a "flea transfer". An unimpressed Nick Hancock said there would be sighs of relief nationwide when Oh, Doctor Beeching! took over their time slot the following week.
- In a Series 9 episode with Clive Lloyd and Rory Bremner in which Gary's team saw footage of Reading fans waving giant underpants during a home defeat to Wrexham, Gary suggested that they were playing "Vest Ham". Nick Hancock and the audience were not amused.
- The captains weren't the only panellists who had the audience turn on them for terrible puns. In the Series 5 opener with Steve Davis and Ainsley Harriott, David's team were asked to name an event in the Indian Rural Olympics. Lee Hurst suggested "tossing the Khyber", and was immediately ashamed of himself, while Gary said that such a pun was beneath even him, and Nick Hancock said that the audience had just had a whip round to pay for Lee to take a taxi home immediately and had raised £400,000.
- The audience of They Think It's All Over tended to be less forgiving of groanworthy puns than the audiences for David's cricket commentaries or Gary's football punditry. Just to give one example for each of the team captains:
- Man of a Thousand Voices:
- Several of the comedy guests over the years were talented impressionists, including Rory Bremner, Alistair McGowan, and Jon Culshaw, and they would inevitably launch into impersonations of assorted sports personalities whose names came up during their episodes... and sometimes of the other panellists (for example, when Alistair McGowan appeared on Gary and Rory's team in Series 5, he asked Frankie Dettori a nonsensical question in Lee Hurst's voice, while when Jon Culshaw appeared on Gary and Rory's team in Series 12, he spoofed Nick Hancock's signature joke delivery style).
- Inverted with Jonathan Ross, as evidenced by his performance in "The Name Game" in a Series 12 episode with Paula Radcliffe and Ben Norris, when he and Rory McGrath had to give their clues as impressions; David Gower described Jonathan's approach as "One voice fits all." Halfway through the round, he forgot he was supposed to be giving the clues as impressions.
- Mascot: Sporting mascots were the subject of several questions over the years.
- In a Series 11 episode with Pat Cash and Mick Miller, both "What's Going On?" clips were mascot-themed, one featuring Stoke City mascot Pottermus being mistaken for a Stoke player by a linesman and flagged as offside and one featuring a mascot race on the horse racing track at Huntingdon. Pottermus then appeared as the subject for Gary and Rory in "Feel the Sportsman".
- In a Series 14 episode with guest captain Mick McCarthy (replacing Gary), Kirsty Gallacher, and John Parrott, "What's Going On?" featured footage of Hartlepool United mascot H'Angus the Monkey canvassing for votes outside Victoria Park (the club's home ground) during his successful campaign to become mayor of Hartlepool. H'Angus then appeared as the subject for Mick and Rory in "Feel the Sportsman".
- Minor Injury Overreaction: In a Series 14 episode with Tony Gubba and Tracy Edwards, Jonathan Ross was convinced the protective gloves he and David Gower had been given for "Feel the Sportsman" meant their guest was Anna Kournikova, and he threw his gloves aside. The actual guests were the East Coast Ferret Racing team, who were accompanied by two plastic tubes and two ferrets - one of which bit Jonathan on the thumb when he held it. Although it did draw blood, Jonathan reacted as though the injury were far more life-threatening than it was.Jonathan Ross: I got blood comin' out me [bleep]ing thumb, that's what I got!
- Naked People Are Funny: Especially when they're the subject of "Feel the Sportsman", as happened when serial sporting streaker Mark Roberts was David and Jonathan's subject in a Series 10 episode with Audley Harrison and Ashley Giles (Roberts had already featured in "What's Going On?" after streaking at a Wimbledon singles match involving Anna Kournikova; his reproductive area was, of course, censored). Though they were unable to identify Roberts, it didn't take David and Jonathan long to realise there was something unusual about their guest, making them very reluctant to get too close.
- Name's the Same: Several in-universe examples.
- When Lee Hurst was a regular on the series, there was a player at Southend United FC also named Lee Hurst. Inevitably, he was the subject of David and Lee's round of "Feel the Sportsman" in the 1996 Christmas special.
- One example became a Running Gag in a Series 12 episode with Alec Stewart and Clive Anderson. "What's Going On?" featured footage of the British Lawnmower Grand Prix, won by one Bob Wilson, whom Nick noted shared his name with a former Arsenal and Scotland goalkeeper turned Football Focus pundit. For "Feel the Sportsman", David and Jonathan had to identify Bob Wilson the lawnmower driver, while Gary and Rory had to identify Bob Wilson the goalkeeper,note and they were also the first two names for David's team in "The Name Game".
- There were several rounds of "The Name Game" with a theme of athletes who share their names with other famous people; the clue givers were allowed to give clues for the sportsmen or the famous people with whom they shared their name.
- Never Heard That One Before: In a Series 17 episode with Katy Sexton and Chris Tarrant, Chris rolled his eyes when the producers cued the "Question incoming" music from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and grumbled about the prospect of having to face half an hour of Millionaire references and fake coughing (a nod to Charles Ingram cheating his way to £1 million on Millionaire in 2001). This was compounded when his then-recent naming in the Honours List came up, and Rory joked that the Queen had said she had an OBE for him - "But we don't wanna give you that!" Chris rolled his eyes again and muttered, "It's gonna be a whole half hour of this, isn't it?"
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In the Full Throttle video special, the They Think It's All Over Grand Prix had a comedy commentary provided by a voiceover artist parodying the signature delivery style of veteran Formula 1 commentator Murray Walker.
- N-Word Privileges: In a Series 7 episode with Jo Brand, Sanjeev Bhaskar, and Phil Tufnell, Sanjeev invoked these privileges during "Temper, Temper" when he suggested that Pakistani cricketer Inzamam-ul-Haq had tried to attack a crowd member during a one-day international against India in Toronto in 1997 because he was "going for an Indian."note David Gower noted that Sanjeev was the only person on their team who could get away with that joke, and Sanjeev replied, "That's why I said it."
- Off the Rails: The "electronic pencil" round which showed up in a few early series frequently wound up here as the panellists simply scribbled all sorts of random nonsense on the picture instead of drawing the correct configuration of Bobby Charlton's combover or Kevin Keegan's atrocious 1970s fashion.
- One Steve Limit: Several episodes featured panellists who shared first names with either the captains or other guests (for example, a returning Lee Hurst appeared opposite footballer Lee Dixon in Series 17), but perhaps the best example came in a Series 10 episode with Clare Balding and Andy Parsons, which was filmed while both David Gower and Gary Lineker were on holiday. Their places were taken by snooker player Steve Davis and javelin thrower Steve Backley. Nick Hancock had to use their full names or their last initials to distinguish between them when announcing the scores at the end of each round.
- Overly Long Name: These sometimes showed up in "The Name Game" when the producers felt like messing with Rory McGrath and/or Lee Hurst or Jonathan Ross.
- Sometimes the clue givers were able to get their teammates to guess the names. For example, in a Series 2 episode with Steve Davis and Gaby Roslin, an uncertain comment from Lee Hurst about van driving was enough for David Gower to get Indian cricketer Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan.
- And sometimes the clue givers simply gave up. For example, in a Series 3 episode with Chris Waddle and Jo Brand, Rory McGrath spent almost ten seconds gaping at the name of Vietnamese football club Cong Nghiep Ham Nam Ninh, then began reciting a mock voiceover for British Telecom (a reference to one of his then-current voiceover gigs), while in a Series 9 episode with Gabby Yorath and Jo Brand, Rory likewise spent almost ten seconds staring at the name of footballer Osagyefo Sagi Lenin Ernesto Burton-Goodwin, then decided instead to ask Gary and Jo to name the player who scored a hat-trick in the 1966 FIFA World Cup final (Geoff Hurst).
- Painful Rhyme: Referenced in-universe for a Series 7 episode with Jo Brand, Fred MacAulay, and David Coulthard during "Sing When You're Winning". The teams had to identify the first line of rhyming couplets used to introduce the national teams at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, and after each team had been given two rhymes each, Nick Hancock showed a fifth video introducing the athletes from Cyprus in which the couplet saw fit to rhyme "astronauts" with "Cypriots". Nick wasn't shy about showing his disgust at the painful rhyme.
- The Points Mean Nothing: David Gower certainly thought so, as he had a much more casual attitude toward the competitive side of the show for most of his appearances than Gary Lineker, to the point of blithely admitting that he neither knew nor cared about the answers to some questions - which, as Lee Hurst and especially Jonathan Ross were poor clue givers during "The Name Game", resulting in Gary winning more episodes than David, was probably just as well. By contrast, Gary and especially Rory McGrath placed so much emphasis on winning that they frequently resorted to cheating; this backfired on many occasions, so that David won almost as often through Gary's disqualification as he did through his team's own merits. The team captains from Series 16 onwards took the competitive aspect more seriously.
- Precision F-Strike:
- In a Series 3 episode with Nick Owen and Phill Jupitus, Gary Lineker's team were unable to answer an "Injury Board" question about an elephant and Scottish runner David Strang, so Nick Hancock passed the question to David Gower's team. David, who generally took a The Points Mean Nothing approach to the series, nonchalantly declared, "What makes you think we give a fuck, anyway?"note
- In a Series 7 episode with Jo Brand, Sanjeev Bhaskar, and Phil Tufnell, David and Jo's "Feel the Sportsman" guest was former New Zealand cricketer Sir Richard Hadlee, who was wearing an ermine robe and carrying a cricket bat, leading David to think their guest was a member of the House of Lords. When he ran out of time and Nick Hancock told him to remove his blindfold, he saw Sir Richard and immediately said, "You're not a [bleep]ing lord!" An amused Nick suggested that this must have been the suggested greeting for a knight of the realm according to Debrett's guides to social etiquette.
- In a Series 9 episode with Mark Lawrenson replacing Gary Lineker and guests John Toshack and Neil Morrissey, the Spanish digression described under Gratuitous Spanish led to Nick joking that David Gower must know the phrase "I've got a few hours now 'til we field, haven't I?" in multiple languages. David replied, "Can I just break into this flood of jokes to say 'fuck off'?"note
- In a Series 13 episode with guest captain Linford Christie (replacing Gary), Ulrika Jonsson, and Phil Tufnell, Rory McGrath mused on the fact that Linford's nickname was "the Horse" while Phil's nickname was "the Cat", then asked Ulrika if she had a nickname. Ulrika, not sure she liked where Rory was going with the idea, answered, "[bleep] off!"Nick Hancock: What a lovely nickname! Isn't that charming? Who gave you that, your mother?
- In a Series 19 episode with Martin Offiah and Darren Gough, Boris Becker's team's guest for "Claim to Fame" was "Tommy from Motherwell".note After Boris, Jonathan, and Martin established that Tommy's sport involved a round ball, Jonathan asked a very long-winded question revolving around how much more lucrative professional football was in 2005 than it was when Tommy was an active player thanks to proportionally higher wages and more sponsorship deals, eventually leading a fed up Lee Mack to double Facepalm while groaning, "Oh, shut the [bleep] up!"
- Product Placement: Gary Lineker's sponsorship deal with Walker's Crisps led to a number of comic plugs on the programme.
- Perhaps the shining example came from the No Holds Barred video, in which the four regulars took part in a mock school sports day and Lineker's shirt and shorts were festooned with Walker's Crisps logos, while his sack for the sack race looked like a giant crisp packet.
- In 1998, after Gary had been replaced as the face of Walker's Crisps by Michael Owen, Nick Hancock declared at the beginning of a Series 6 episode with Jo Brand, Greg Rusedski, and Fred McAulay that the word "Walker" would be treated as a swear word and bleeped. Inevitably, every person Gary and Fred had to identify in "The Name Game" was called "___ Walker" (goalkeeper Ian Walker, Formula 1 commentator Murray Walker, cricketer Max Walker, footballer Des Walker, etc.), which was asterisked out.
- Punny Name: The whole point of "The Name Game". After a few familiar names the teams could recognise from a basic description of their sport, Rory and Lee/Jonathan would then have to give clues for athletes whose names generally involved some sort of pun, frequently a Double Entendre such as "Jesus Arce" (Jonathan's clue for whom was "Son of God's backside") or "Lucky Idahor" (a Nigerian footballer, Rory's clue for whom was "Fortunately, I engaged the services of a lady of the night").
- Putting the Pee in Pool:
- Referenced in a Series 16 episode with Anthony Worrall-Thompson and James Gibson. During "The Treble", Jonathan Ross brought up the rumour that pools were treated with chemicals that would change colour in the presence of urine, and eventually the conversation turned to whether or not champion swimmer James had ever relieved himself while swimming. He cheerfully admitted that he had done so all around the world.Nick Hancock: And people say that youngsters in this country have nothing to offer! There's a young man who's been around the world pissing in other people's swimming pools!
- Referenced again in a Series 18 episode with Andrew Castle and Phill Jupitus in which Phil Tufnell and Jonathan Ross' "Feel the Sportsman" guest was world record shallow diver Danny Higginbottom, who made his entrance by diving from a high platform above the studio into a shallow swimming pool, thoroughly soaking Phil and Jonathan. At one point, Jonathan waggled his hands in the water of the pool, and Phil commented that the splashing noise made him want to relieve himself...Phil Tufnell: It's just like, when you're in the swimming pool, always dying for a piss, aren't you.
Nick Hancock: No, Phil! Actually! I'm 41!
- Referenced in a Series 16 episode with Anthony Worrall-Thompson and James Gibson. During "The Treble", Jonathan Ross brought up the rumour that pools were treated with chemicals that would change colour in the presence of urine, and eventually the conversation turned to whether or not champion swimmer James had ever relieved himself while swimming. He cheerfully admitted that he had done so all around the world.
- Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Parodied by Rory McGrath in the Series 13 opener with guest captain Steve Davis (replacing Gary), Ronnie O'Sullivan, and Mike Gatting. During David Gower's team's "Sporting Bluff" question concerning whether shot putter Geoff Capes, rugby player Martin Bayfield, or Gatting himself had appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Rory read, "Harry Potter featured ex-England cricket captain Mike Gatting True." He then swore and covered his mouth in mock embarrassment.note
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Stephen Fry delivered quite a blistering one to Nick Hancock and the producers on his appearance in Series 4 when he, Gary Lineker, and Rory McGrath had to explain a clip of the Albanian game of well defending in "What's Going On?". He asserted that countries all over the "Second and Third World" (as they once were) were deliberately inventing ridiculous "traditional" games so that The BBC would buy footage of them for the They Think It's All Over team to use for easy laughs while the people in the footage pocketed the profits and laughed at how gullible the British were for thinking these were real games.
- Running Gag: Many, as detailed under Take That!.
- Relating to the regulars, there were many jokes about David Gower's poshness and inconsistent performance at the crease, Gary Lineker's tendency to score goals after another player had done all the work getting the ball into position, Rory McGrath's weight, Lee Hurst's baldness, Jonathan Ross' extroverted dress sense, and the implication that Jonathan was having an affair with Gary's then-wife Michelle.
- In the wider world of sport, many episodes featured jokes about the ineptitude of the England football/rugby/cricket/whatever team, the popular perception that matches involving Manchester United would continue as far past 90 minutes as necessary for them to take the lead, the sex and drug scandals that had dogged former sport presenter Frank Bough, the idea that champion javelin thrower Fatima Whitbread was really a man (a joke that was transferred to tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams in later series), and more besides.
- For the first few series, every "Photo-fit" picture for Gary Lineker's team would be greeted by Rory McGrath with the exclamation "I've had her!" - even if all three subjects were male.
- Series 3 featured a running gag about David Gower having a young Filipino boy named Manuel under the desk. In an episode with Mark Little and Brian Moore, as a throwaway line after Little was revealed to be wearing sandals, Lee Hurst joked that David was resting his feet on Manuel. Lee and, later, David made occasional references to Manuel in the next several episodes; for example, during "Excuses" in an episode with Dermot Reeve and Mark Hurst, David whispered "Have you got the answer?" under the desk to Manuel, and Lee claimed that he couldn't answer, as his mouth was full. Finally, in the 1996 Christmas special, "Manuel" made an appearance, bowing out of "servicing" David (whether as a footstool or for... other purposes was not explained) due to back pain.
- In a Series 8 episode with guest captain Steve Davis (replacing David), Arthur Smith, and Paula Radcliffe, Steve and Jonathan's "Feel the Sportsman" guest was world orienteering champion Yvette Baker, who had a wooden control point among her props. Steve knelt down next to the control point and declared, "I smell pine!", to the bemusement of the panel. For the rest of Series 8, at least one "Feel the Sportsman" guesser would announce "I smell pine!" in each episode. Steve even gave a variant when he returned as guest captain in an episode with Ron Atkinson and Jo Brand, and his and Jonathan's mystery guest was snooker referee Len Ganley, who was stood in front of a miniature snooker table; Steve picked up the cue, sniffed it, and announced, "That's not pine!"
- Series 8 featured a second running gag in which various embarrassing publicity photos featuring the panellists were declared the most disgusting things seen on British television. In an episode with Sam Torrance and Sean Lock, the title was given to a photo of Gary Lineker and Alan Hansen in adjacent baths with the FA Cup between them. In an episode with guest captain Steve Davis (replacing David), Ron Atkinson, and Jo Brand, the title was passed instead to a photo of Steve on the toilet with his trousers round his ankles, reading a magazine. And in the 1999 Christmas special, the title was transferred again to a photo of Rory McGrath in a diaper and baby bonnet.
- Self-Deprecation: David Gower and Gary Lineker were the objects of constant streams of jokes during their tenures as team captains, but were quite happy to make some of those jokes themselves. David played up his perception as an Upper-Class Twit (when Jonathan Ross asked if his house had ever featured on Through the Keyhole, David said it had appeared instead on Across the Drawbridge) and an inconsistent batsman, while Gary joined in the jokes about how he seemed to spend whole matches camped in his opponents' 6-yard box waiting for a cross he could tap into the goal (during a "Feel the Sportsman" featuring badminton players, he felt the net and said he felt right at home in front of a net, and could he stay there for the next 90 minutes?).
- Serious Business: Parodied in the 1995 Christmas special. Nick Hancock announced that in the previous episode, Gary Lineker and Rory McGrath had been caught cheating during "Feel the Sportsman" by poking holes in their blindfolds with needles to see their guest more easily, and following a meeting of "the They Think It's All Over disciplinary committee", they were going to be "strip[ped] of the title", so that David Gower's team were declared the winners of Series 1 instead.
- Share the Male Pain: In the 1970s special from Series 15 with Ilie Năstase and Francis Lee, Gary Lineker's team were given an "Excuses" question concerning England's 3-2 defeat to West Germany in the 1970 FIFA World Cup, a match in which Francis had played. In the lead-in to the first German goal, defender Klaus Fichtel fired the ball into Francis' groin, causing him to double over in pain (and commentator David Coleman to remark that the incident had done him no favours), and after Rory McGrath asked to see the footage again, the rest of the panel and numerous male audience members made audible exclamations of sympathetic pain.
- Shout-Out: The series' title is a reference to Kenneth Wolstenholme's commentary from the BBC broadcast of the final seconds of England's 1966 FIFA World Cup victory, which is played over the end of the opening titles: "And here comes Hurst! He's got- some people are on the pitch, they think it's all over! [Hurst fires the ball into the back of the net] It is now!"note Nick Hancock regularly quoted the commentary in his closing spiel: "My name's Nick Hancock, they think it's all over, it is now."
- Side Bet:
- In the Series 1 opener with Rory Bremner and Roger Black, David Gower's team's "Author, Author" passage came from Vinnie Jones' autobiography, Vinnie: A Kick in the Grass, and featured a reference to "back-stabbing bastards". Lee Hurst muttered the phrase under his breath three times, then claimed he had bet David £10 that he could find a reason to say "bastard" three times during the recording.
- In a later Series 1 episode with John Barnes and Jo Brand, Gary Lineker's team had to identify an "Author, Author" quote whose subject claimed to have been banned from nearly every hotel in England. When Nick Hancock prompted them for a guess, Jo Brand guessed TV presenter Mariella Frostrup, to audience laughter. She then told Gary he owed her £5, as she had bet him she could get a laugh just by mentioning Frostrup's name.
- In a Series 3 episode with Chris Waddle and Jo Brand, the "Celebrations" round was de-railed by side bets among Gary's team members. When Nick Hancock tried to curb Jo's use of sexual terms, as his parents were in the audience, she went down a list of words to gauge their acceptability: "poo", "bum", and "Mariella Frostrup". When the audience laughed at the last of these, Jo revealed that she had revived her bet from two series earlier with Gary regarding the inherently funny nature of Frostrup's name; this time, the bet was for £10. After a second digression about whether or not Jo shaved her legs led to her allowing Gary to feel them, she asked if he had been sexually excited by the experience, and he said he had. As he had bet her £60 that he would claim to "have a hard-on" at some point during the episode, it was then his turn to collect.
- Signing-Off Catch Phrase: Nick Hancock would end each show by thanking the panellists, possibly followed by a topical gag, and then he would deliver a Title Drop by saying, "My name's Nick Hancock, they think it's all over, it is now."
- Sound to Screen Adaptation: They Think It's All Over began life in 1992 on BBC Radio 5, with Des Lynam as the chairman and Rory Bremner and Rory McGrath as captains of two-person teams. The radio version ran for 14 episodes and a Christmas special across two series before making the jump to television in 1995. David Gower made three appearances as a guest panellist on the radio edition; other guests included Alan Hansen (four appearances), Roger Black, Will Carling, Steve Davis (three appearances each), Trevor Brooking, Lee Chapman, Garry Herbert, Gary Mason (two appearances each), Steve Cram, Lucinda Green, Brian Johnston, Gary Mabbutt, Adrian Moorhouse, and John Motson (one appearance each).
- Spit Take:
- In a Series 3 episode with Alistair McGowan and Jimmy "Five Bellies" Gardner (a last minute replacement for his drinking companion, Paul Gascoigne), Gary Lineker's team were given "What's Going On?" footage of the Prince of Wales talking about something expelling foul air from both ends and unexpectedly going down.note Gary suggested that "unexpectedly going down" was a reference to romance novellist Barbara Cartland, disgusting Nick Hancock and causing Lee Hurst to spit out the mouthful of water he had just attempted to drink.
- In a Series 13 episode with guest captain Linford Christie (replacing Gary), Ulrika Jonsson, and Phil Tufnell, Jonathan Ross began "Sporting Bluff" by welcoming Ulrika to the show and praising her hosting stint on Dog Eat Dog, describing her as "a female Anne Robinson". Nick Hancock was in the middle of a swig from his water bottle, and tried and failed to keep from spitting out the mouthful he had just drunk.
- Spoonerism: In a Series 18 episode with Michael Johnson and Dickie Davies, Dickie told a story of his unfortunate collision with spoonerisms while presenting World of Sport. He was giving a preview of the football results of the next Big Match, which were cup ties, and instead of "Cup soccer", he introduced viewers to the "Cop sucker", to his producer's horror. Jonathan Ross joked that the next item involved a stunt kite display.
- The Stinger: The 1998 Christmas special opened with 79-year-old actress Jean Ainslie in a rocking chair at Rory McGrath's end of the panel, asking why the panel can't all be like "that nice, white-haired old one who never says anything" (meaning David Gower) before leaving to see what was on ITV. After the credits for the episode had run, Rory was seen steering her into a dressing room; she asked if he was sure it was David's dressing room, and he assured her it was as he followed her into the room, closing the door behind him to reveal his own name on it.
- Sudden Death: From Series 2 onward, if an episode finished level after "The Name Game", the teams would play a tiebreak game, the formats of which were often Call Backs to earlier rounds. If the two teams had won equal numbers of episodes by the end of a series, they would also play a tiebreak for the series. Examples of tiebreak games included answering questions from trivia books purportedly written by David Gower and Gary Lineker (neither captain could answer questions from "his" book), musical chairs, a race on "skeleton bobsleds" (tea trays with skateboard wheels), launching football boots at cutouts of David Beckham's face,note riding a mechanical bull, and seeing who of Rory and Jonathan could hold their breath for the longest while face down in a bowl of water.
- Super OCD: In a Series 12 episode with Alec Stewart and Clive Anderson, the "Sporting Bluff" question for David Gower's team referenced England wicket keeper Jack Russell's case of this. Clive Anderson claimed that Russell soaked his Weetabix in milk for exactly twelve minutes every morning, Gary Lineker claimed that Russell refused to tell his teammates where he lived and circled roundabouts three times to throw off imaginary pursuers, and Rory McGrath claimed that Russell insisted that workmen working on his house wear blindfolds. The true statement: all of them.
- The Swear Jar: In a Series 12 episode with Fiona Allen and Audley Harrison, Nick Hancock announced that The BBC were cracking down on foul language in the programme by instituting a swear jar, with all money collected to be donated to Children in Need. He set the tone for the rest of the episode by declaring this "a (bleep)ing good idea" and immediately making the first donation. Rory McGrath emptied a handful of coins onto the desk in preparation, while Jonathan Ross produced two stacks of banknotes and, late in the episode, gave Nick his bank card.
- Take a Third Option: In a Series 2 episode with John Gordon Sinclair and Kriss Akabusi, the team's attempts in the "Electronic Pencil" round to show where the ball went in a veterans' tennis match between Jimmy Connors and Guillermo Vilas (short version: Connors threw his racket up in the air to hit the ball, causing it to drop just the other side of the net) were so wide of the mark that Nick awarded the round to Ian Hislop's team.
- Take That!: Like most panel games, the series made a habit of getting laughs by poking fun at the people and teams who appeared in footage or stories for various rounds.
- Few sporting figures came under fire as often as David Gower and Gary Lineker themselves. David would be mocked for his posh background and unfortunate tendency to get bowled or caught or run out at inconvenient moments (often exaggerated to imply that he was regularly out for a ducknote ), while Gary would be teased for his "good guy" image and his prolific goalscoring frequently being the result of being just in front of goal after a midfielder had done all the hard work getting the ball into the box.[after seeing footage of Michael Owen scoring a goal against Newcastle United and then rubbing his hands in celebration]note
David Gower: Just thinking, Gary, is it true that in scoring that one goal, he actually covered more distance than you did in an entire career?
Rory McGrath: David, what's the distance from the wicket to the pavilion?
- After David and Gary left the series, their replacements were fodder for many jokes as well. Phil Tufnell was teased for his marijuana habit and poor batting and fielding records, David Seaman was mocked for his ponytail and error-prone performances as England goalkeeper (especially for letting the deciding goal in the 2002 World Cup quarter-final against Brazil go over his head), Ian Wright was ribbed endlessly when Thierry Henry de-throned him as Arsenal's most prolific goalscorer, and Boris Becker was never allowed to forget his alleged sexual tryst in a restaurant linen cupboard with a Russian model that supposedly lasted under a minute.
- The more frequent guest captains were also held up to ridicule. Steve Davis made ten appearances on the series as a replacement captain (usually for David Gower) and was frequently teased for his perceived dullness and his poor performances in snooker tournaments from 1990 onwards, while Matthew Pinsent made two appearances (both times opposite Steve Davis) and was mocked for his posh background and for, as far as the panel were concerned, letting "Sir Steve Redgrave" do all the hard work when they won gold at the 1992, 1996, and 2000 Summer Olympics together.
- The regular comedians were not immune either. Rory McGrath's beard and weight were the subject of many jokes, as were Lee Hurst's baldness and Jonathan Ross' colourful suits.
- Nick Hancock was mocked mercilessly by the regulars during the short run of the sitcom Holding the Baby, in which he played the lead role for the first series.note In a Series 4 episode with Mark Little and Dave Bassett, David Gower dug deeper into Nick's CV to mock an ad campaign he did for Jersey-based Randall's Beer in 1990.
- The perceived low quality of Scottish football was a steady source of jokes.
- In a Series 6 episode with Jo Brand, Greg Rusedski, and Fred MacAulay, the Scottish FA were so convinced that the programme would use footage of Alloa Athletic in action as a source of mockery that they tried to charge them double the going rate. The producers responded by using free archive footage of embarrassing gaffes by Scotland in FIFA World Cup tournaments, conceding easy goals to Peru in 1978, Brazil in 1990, and Brazil (again) and Morocco in 1998, with Nick Hancock saying they didn't need to mock Scottish football: they could just let it speak for itself.
- Even Scottish panellists joined in the mockery. In a Series 2 episode with John Gordon Sinclair and Kriss Akabusi, John said that Scotland's 7-0 defeat by Uruguay in the 1954 FIFA World Cup was technically a win by Scottish standards, while in the Series 6 episode with Jo Brand, Greg Rusedski, and Fred MacAulay, the montage of Scotland's World Cup blunders prompted Fred to joke that those were some of their better games.
- The football fandom allegiances of the regulars (or, in Gary Lineker's case, the clubs for which he played) were also often mocked, particularly Nick Hancock's support of Stoke City (when he ribbed Gary for never having scored at Stoke's home ground, Gary sniped back that he had never played in the lower leagues), Rory McGrath's support of Arsenal, and Gary's career at Spurs (when he bristled at the use of footage of Marcel Desailly scoring for Chelsea against Spurs, Rory quipped that goals against Spurs were easier to find).
- As the series' run coincided with the rise in prominence of David and Victoria Beckham (to the point that they were the subjects of recurring quickfire question rounds starting in Series 16), both of them came in for frequent verbal kickings from the panel, with many jokes about David being very thick and Victoria being very thin and having little talent for singing. Victoria was not amused, and in a Series 9 episode with Iain Lee and Shane Warne, a bonus question in "Author, Author" quoted an interview she had given Heat magazine lambasting Rory McGrath, calling him an "ugly bastard" and a "prick". Rory McGrath was clearly less upset by her insults than she was by his, as the mockery continued unabated.
- In a Series 6 episode with Phill Jupitus, Roger Black, and Annabel Croft, Nick Hancock's autocue gag after an "Excuses" question about Paula Radcliffe and Sue Barker going into a toilet together at Balmoral noted that Sue had unfavourably compared They Think It's All Over to A Question of Sport (which she had just begun hosting) for including too many remarks that just weren't witty. Nick concluded, "Like this one, for example: piss off, Sue!"
- Following his arrest for spending a night with a prostitute and taking cocaine, Have I Got News for You presenter Angus Deayton was the object of many jokes about drug-fuelled orgies, most of them made by Nick Hancock and Rory McGrath (both of whom appeared on Have I Got News for You multiple times before They Think It's All Over premiered), both of whom sarcastically referred to him as "my good friend Angus Deayton".
- Few sporting figures came under fire as often as David Gower and Gary Lineker themselves. David would be mocked for his posh background and unfortunate tendency to get bowled or caught or run out at inconvenient moments (often exaggerated to imply that he was regularly out for a ducknote ), while Gary would be teased for his "good guy" image and his prolific goalscoring frequently being the result of being just in front of goal after a midfielder had done all the hard work getting the ball into the box.
- Tempting Fate:
- Twice, once for each team, during "Feel the Sportsman" in a Series 7 episode with Jonathan Ross, Jeff Green, and Gary McAllister.
- As David Gower and Jonathan Ross took their positions and donned their blindfolds, Jonathan declared, "I pray it's a young lady." He did not get his wish; their guest was retired footballer Bernie Slaven, who had bared his backside in a shop window as part of a bet earlier in the year after his old club, Middlesbrough, beat Manchester United 3-2 at Old Trafford. Slaven proceeded to lift up the kilt he was wearing to reveal "3 2" painted on his backside,note and Jonathan got several handfuls of Slaven's rear end while David retreated back to his seat.
- After Jonathan registered his horror at having accidentally groped a man's behind, Gary Lineker and Rory McGrath took their places, with Gary audibly wondering how they could possibly follow that. He got his answer when rally drivers Nicky Grist and Colin McRae pulled up in a car which launched a shower of oil over the entire panel (except for Jonathan and, mostly, David), with Gary getting the worst of it.
- In the Series 16 opener with Ed Smith and Graeme Le Saux, Jonathan Ross cautioned his new team captain, Phil Tufnell, that "Feel the Sportsman" sometimes involved being pulled into a bath (a Call Back a Series 15 episode with guest captains Steve Davis (replacing David) and Sam Torrance (replacing Gary) and guests Rich Hall and Gary Speed in which Jonathan and Steve's "Feel the Sportsman" guests, Team Bath FC, had a giant, foam-filled prop bath on stage), but that they wouldn't try anything like that for this episode because of the nice suit he was wearing. He was quickly proved wrong; their guests were the Manc Union paintball team, two members of whom appeared from the sides of the studio after guessing had begun and shot Phil and Jonathan in the backside.
- Twice, once for each team, during "Feel the Sportsman" in a Series 7 episode with Jonathan Ross, Jeff Green, and Gary McAllister.
- That Came Out Wrong:
- The Series 5 opener with Steve Davis and Ainsley Harriott featured an unfortunate collision between two of the series' Running Gags about Gary Lineker: the size of his ears and the fact that he almost never headed the ball as a player.Gary Lineker: I've not got big ears.
Lee Hurst: You've not got big ears!? What, you've got-
Gary: I've just got a very small head.
Lee: Oh, right. Is that why your bollocks look so big? [Gary makes "Sh! That's supposed to be a secret!" gesture]
Nick Hancock: That's why you've never hit the ball with it, presumably. [audience laughter, which suddenly gets louder, while Gary headdesks] His head, not his bollocks!
- In the 2001 Christmas special, Steve Davis recounted the story of Canadian snooker player Bill Werbeniuk's habit of Going Commando having unfortunate effects when he split his trousers during a World Team Tournament match in the 1980s. He added that Werbeniuk's teammates, Cliff Thorburn and Kirk Stevens, had to "pull him off". The audience and panel fell about laughing at Steve's poor choice of words, while Steve covered his face in embarrassment.
- In a Series 13 episode with guest captains Matthew Pinsent (replacing David) and Steve Davis (replacing Gary), Damon Hill, and Beverley Turner, Rory McGrath recalled a story printed in The Sun from some years earlier in which Beverley had allegedly claimed that her ex-boyfriend, Jamie Theakston, was not terribly well-endowed downstairs. Beverley clarified that she had never actually said that, but it had been printed just the same, and "it did get a little bit out of hand." Her unfortunate choice of words did not go unnoticed by the audience or the panel.Nick Hancock: Well, that counts as big for me!
- One of the series' Running Gags was the perception that golfer Colin Montgomerie had breasts. In a Series 15 episode with guest captain Steve Davis (replacing David), Grandstand presenter Steve Rider, and Ronnie O'Sullivan, Rider told a story about interviewing Montgomerie after a mediocre round at the PGA Championship at Wentworth just after he and his wife had had their second child. First, Rider said the aim of the interview was to portray "Monty" as a "rounded individual", and immediately apologised for his poor choice of words. He then recalled that he had asked Montgomerie if the new baby had disrupted his sleeping pattern. Montgomerie replied, "Oh, we've got all that sorted out... my wife breastfeeds up until 9:00, and then I take over." Rider concluded, "And you think, 'You try and help a fellow...'"
- In a Series 16 episode with Katharine Merry and Neil Ruddock, Jonathan Ross observed that Katharine's trainer was Linford Christie. Inevitably, he asked if she had ever had a peek at Linford's famous "lunchbox". Misunderstanding the question, Katharine innocently replied, "No, no, I've never eaten..." The audience laughed uproariously, and Katharine finally realised what Jonathan actually meant and covered her mouth in amused embarrassment.
- The Series 5 opener with Steve Davis and Ainsley Harriott featured an unfortunate collision between two of the series' Running Gags about Gary Lineker: the size of his ears and the fact that he almost never headed the ball as a player.
- That's What She Said: In a Series 8 episode with Vic Henley and Geoffrey Boycott, Nick Hancock noted to Geoffrey that Gary was a cricketer as well as a footballer. Geoffrey said he'd seen Gary play, and "it took about three seconds to watch him get out." Jonathan Ross added, "That's what his wife Michelle says as well."
- Token Minority: Parodied in the 1999 Christmas special, in which David and Jonathan's teammate was Nick Hancock's former Cambridge Footlights castmate David Baddiel, who is Jewish and Lampshaded the bizarre logic behind inviting him onto a Christmas Episode. In "Sing When You're Winning", after seeing a group of Nottingham Forest fans sing, "Away in a manger, no crib for a bed / The little lord Jesus looked up and He said...", Baddiel suggested the next line was "I'm not actually the Messiah!"note
- Too Soon:
- Invoked by the audience in a Series 13 episode with Barry Davies and Junior Simpson when "What's Going On?" featured footage of the 2002 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Salt Lake City.Jonathan Ross: Is that the sweet dream that Jonathan King has every night?note [audience groans] Oh, [bleep] off, then! [groans change to laughter] What d'you expect? Question of Sport's next door!
- Invoked by the audience again in a Series 14 episode with Sharron Davies and Mark Waugh when "Excuses" featured footage of swimmer Ian Thorpe breaking world records at the Commonwealth Games.Rory McGrath: He's supposed to be the fastest swimmer in the world, I've seen Gary swim faster than that. Michael Barrymore's pool party, wasn't it?note [audience groans while Gary Facepalms and Rory mouths "What!?" while shrugging in mock innocence; the groans slowly change to applause]
Nick Hancock: And that's the last in the current series of They Think It's All Over!
- Invoked by the audience in a Series 13 episode with Barry Davies and Junior Simpson when "What's Going On?" featured footage of the 2002 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Salt Lake City.
- Unusual Euphemism: The panellists were fond of using the peculiar yet popular euphemism "lunchbox" to refer to sprinter Linford Christie's endowment - a definition that, according to a "Sporting Bluff" question from a Series 6 episode with Jo Brand, Greg Rusedski, and Fred MacAulay, had made it into the Oxford English Dictionary.
- Verbal Tic: The Series 2 opener with Neil Morrissey and Ian Wright finished level after "The Name Game", so Nick Hancock cued a 30-second clip from a pre-match interview with Ian's Arsenal teammate Ray Parlour before the 1993 FA Cup final against Sheffield Wednesday. He then asked the teams how many times Parlour had used the word "obviously", a word he had been using like a comma during the interview; the correct answer was seven.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: In the "Excuses" round of a Series 19 episode with Helen Chamberlain and Frankie Boyle, Boris Becker's team were asked why Andy Murray had been sick during his first round match at the 2005 US Open... accompanied by a photo of Murray in the middle of throwing up.
- What's a Henway?:
- In a Series 5 episode with Frankie Dettori and Alistair McGowan, David's team were shown a publicity photo of retired footballer turned pundit Jimmy Hill writing "ENGLAND" in sunblock on a sunbathing woman's back, leading David Gower to ask the following:David Gower: What's that word they use to describe different strengths of sun cream? Erm...
Frankie Dettori: Factor.
David: I'm sure he did, but... [his next few words are obscured by audience laughter]
Lee Hurst: Oh, NO! [Frankie points accusingly at him and pretends to hit him] I wasn't saying anything! I can't believe he got you!
Nick Hancock: We'd like to thank Mike and Bernie Winters for that joke.
- In the Series 13 finale with Barry Davies and Junior Simpson, Gary's team were shown footage of an Exeter City goal being celebrated by players running up to the crowd holding out an upturned cap (a reference to unpaid wages caused by financial trouble at the club). Rory McGrath observed that Exeter were nicknamed the Grecians, leading to the inevitable joke, complete with Lame Pun Reaction from Nick Hancock:Rory McGrath: Their nickname, actually, their nickname is the Grecians.
Gary Lineker: Grecians.
Nick Hancock: [hammily] What's a Grecian urn? [rolls eyes]
Rory: Not very much, by the looks of things.
Nick: Thank you very much. [Facepalms] That was always gonna come out, wasn't it.
Rory: It had to.
- In a Series 5 episode with Frankie Dettori and Alistair McGowan, David's team were shown a publicity photo of retired footballer turned pundit Jimmy Hill writing "ENGLAND" in sunblock on a sunbathing woman's back, leading David Gower to ask the following:
- What the Hell Is That Accent?:
- Since Jonathan Ross had little talent for impressions, his attempts at foreign accents always landed squarely in this territory. For example, in a Series 9 episode with Paul Merson and Lawrence Dallaglio, his team's "Handbags" question concerned David Ginola and his manager at Aston Villa, John Gregory. Jonathan attempted an impression of Ginola; Paul Merson's reaction of "He's not German!" should convey how successful his French accent was.
- In the 2011 Comic Relief special, Dave Berry's impression of Kenny Dalglish was clearly aiming at the fact that the former Liverpool striker turned manager's tendency to mumble in a heavy Glaswegian accent made him difficult to understand. However, he proceeded to rant incoherently in accents that spanned the globe and only occasionally alighted in an undefined part of Scotland. After "The Name Game", he trotted out an identical impression for Dalglish's fellow Glaswegian, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
- Who Writes This Crap?!:
- In the Series 7 opener with Jo Brand, Steve Davis, and Clive Anderson, Nick Hancock's autocue gag after Gary Lineker's team's "Celebrations" question referenced the fact that Nintendo had just bought a large stake in Italian football club Fiorentina, and had just spent £20 million on a small, mustachioed plumber in overalls. It took a few seconds for the audience to get the joke and start laughing, prompting Nick to mutter to Clive, "You should worry, at least you get a chance to make the fucking stuff up!"note
- In a Series 14 episode with Ashia Hansen and Suzi Perry, Gary Lineker's team had to answer a "Celebrations" question concerning Thierry Henry celebrating a goal against Manchester City by raising his shirt to reveal an undershirt on which was written "FOR THE NEW BORN KYD". After Rory McGrath correctly explained that it was a tribute to Henry's friend, Texas lead singer Sharleen Spiteri, who had just given birth to a daughter, Nick Hancock was unimpressed by the autocue gag he had to read:Nick Hancock: Being a professional footballer, Thierry Henry is obviously mates with pop star Sharleen Spiteri, the lead singer of Texas. The message was to congratulate her on the birth of her daughter, full name Misty Kyd Heath. David Seaman did a similar tribute in the World Cup to a child called Misty Cross. [grimaces, then Facepalms]
Gary Lineker: Aw, Jesus! If I did a joke like that-
Nick: We've got to sack the Chuckle Brothers from writing on this show!
- Younger Than They Look: Invoked for comedic purposes with David Gower. He was the subject of many "old man" jokes (it was often implied that he started playing cricket when Queen Victoria was on the throne), partly because his posh background made him out of touch with youth pop culture and partly because his hair had already turned white and thinned considerably by the time the series began. However, he was only 38 years old when the series debuted, and was only three and a half years older than Gary Lineker and Jonathan Ross, five and a half years older than Nick Hancock and Lee Hurst, and just over a year younger than Rory McGrath.
- Your Cheating Heart: In a Series 13 episode with guest captains Matthew Pinsent (replacing David) and Steve Davis (replacing Gary) and guests John Francome and Jo Brand, John recounted the story of a colleague of his at Channel 4 who spent every Wednesday with a mistress but told his wife he was going ten-pin bowling. For his birthday, she bought him a bowling ball, and he decided to take it with him every Wednesday to maintain his cover story. When the annual staff party, to which his wife was invited, was held at a bowling alley, he brought the ball along... and discovered it had no fingerholes in it, as they needed to be custom drilled to fit his hand.