BBC axes Question of Sport stars Sue Barker, Matt Dawson and Phil Tuffnell in ...

The BBC is today facing a backlash after announcing it has axed Sue Barker, Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell from A Question Of Sport in a move to 'diversify' the show. 

The former tennis player, 64, has been axed as host of the show, alongside the team captains, so that bosses can draft in fresh talent to revamp the long-running sports quiz.

Miss Barker, who will stay on as the corporation’s face of Wimbledon, told of her sadness at having to leave the show after 24 years.

She said that the BBC had to remove her from A Question Of Sport as she would never have left her dream job voluntarily. 

The BBC, now led by director-general Tim Davie, said it was dedicated to finding ways to appeal to younger audiences. 

Sources disclosed to Sportsmail that Alex Scott, the former Arsenal and England defender, is well-liked by the broadcaster and in the mix to replace Barker as presenter. 

Ex-Tottenham and England midfielder Jermaine Jenas is also in the running to become one of the new team captains, with the BBC keen to diversify. 

Sue Barker, 64, (centre) has been axed as host of BBC's A Question Of Sport, alongside team captains Matt Dawson (left) and Phil Tufnell (right), so that bosses can draft in fresh talent

Sue Barker, 64, (centre) has been axed as host of BBC's A Question Of Sport, alongside team captains Matt Dawson (left) and Phil Tufnell (right), so that bosses can draft in fresh talent

Jermaine Jenas is in the running to become one of the new team captains

Alex Scott is in the mix to replace Barker as the host for A Question of Sport

Jermaine Jenas and Alex Scott have both been tipped to join A Question of Sport in the future

The show, which was first broadcast in 1970, has always had a loyal viewership of around three to four million per episode but has failed to attract young viewers. Ms Barker is pictured here in 1998 with the then team captains - footballer Ally McCoist, left, and snooker star John Parrott

 The show, which was first broadcast in 1970, has always had a loyal viewership of around three to four million per episode but has failed to attract young viewers. Ms Barker is pictured here in 1998 with the then team captains - footballer Ally McCoist, left, and snooker star John Parrott

Dawson said yesterday: ‘Thanks for all the lovely messages. I’m not sure how to respond so I’ll have a think. Needless to say I will miss A Question of Sport immensely.’

Dawson said yesterday: ‘Thanks for all the lovely messages. I’m not sure how to respond so I’ll have a think. Needless to say I will miss A Question of Sport immensely.’

Following the announcement, Phil Tufnell tweeted that he was ‘going to miss it hugely’

Following the announcement, Phil Tufnell tweeted that he was ‘going to miss it hugely’

The former tennis player, pictured as a BBC host in 1996, will continue with presenting duties for the next two summers at Wimbledon, having signed a three-year deal last year

The former tennis player, pictured as a BBC host in 1996, will continue with presenting duties for the next two summers at Wimbledon, having signed a three-year deal last year

Who has hosted and captained the popular BBC quiz show?

The popular BBC series has only ever had three hosts. David Vine was first in the hot heat in 1970 with team captains Henry Cooper and Cliff Morgan.

He covered most of the 1970s before being replaced by David Coleman in 1979.

Coleman presided over the show for 18 years before finally being replaced by Barker in 1997.  

The first team captains were boxer Henry Cooper and Wales rugby union star Cliff Morgan. 

Morgan was replaced in 1977 by Olympic medallist Brendan Foster. In 1979 the new captains became Welsh rugby star Gareth Edwards and Emlyn Hughes.

They last until 1982 and were replaced by former England rugby union captain Bill Beaumont and jockey Willy Carson.

The popular Carson was replaced by previous captain Hughes in 1984 before being later replaced by cricket star Ian Botham.

Beaumont and Botham spent years battling each other as captains leading to many memorably moments on the show before they were replaced by football star Ally McCoist and snooker legend John Parrott in 1996.

Parrott left in 2002 and was replaced by jockey Frankie Dettori. He lasted two years before being replaced by scrum-half Matt Dawson.

Phil Tufnell then replaced McCoist in 2008.  

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‘I love the show so much they would have to remove me, it would have been tough for me to walk away,’ she told Sportsmail yesterday.

‘I’ve absolutely loved my 24 years fronting A Question Of Sport, it’s been my dream job,’ she said.

‘But I understand the BBC want to take the show in a new direction and I’m sad to say goodbye.’

Miss Barker will continue with presenting duties for the next two summers at Wimbledon, having signed a three-year deal last year. 

Sportsmail understands she signed a new three-year contract last year to carry her through until at least 2022, something that will come as a relief to many viewers. 

Barker has not only fronted the TV coverage, but carried out interviews on Centre Court following some of the most watched events in British sport of recent decades, such as Andy Murray's first win in 2013.

She will also continue to be in the chair for the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in November and the Fever Tree Championships at Queen's Club, which are also part of her deal. 

A BBC spokesman said: ‘We would like to thank Sue for her enormous contribution as the show’s longest reigning host over the last 24 years, and Matt and Phil for their excellent team captaincy over 16 and 12 years respectively.’ 

Tufnell tweeted that he was ‘going to miss it hugely’. 

Dawson said yesterday: ‘Thanks for all the lovely messages. I’m not sure how to respond so I’ll have a think. Needless to say I will miss A Question of Sport immensely.’

As recently as July Miss Barker raved about her continued love for the programme – which celebrated its 50th anniversary in January – and said that her 24 years behind the desk had flown by.

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