|Presented by||Graham Bell|
|Opening theme||"Pop Looks Bach" by Sam Fonteyn|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||37|
|Original network||BBC Two|
|Original release||1978 -|
|Related shows||Sunday Grandstand|
Ski Sunday is the BBC Sports weekly magazine-style television show covering winter sports, broadcast in the United Kingdom on Sundays in a late afternoon or an early evening time-slot. It began in 1978, and is currently presented by Graham Bell and Ed Leigh.
Originally launched in 1978 on the back of the 1976 Winter Olympics, later forming part of Sunday Grandstand and presented and commentated on by British broadcasters including Ron Pickering and David Vine (who presented the show for 20 years until he took semi-retirement in 1996), the show focused primarily on the blue riband events of downhill skiing and Special Slalom. Following the final edition of Grandstand in early 2007, Ski Sunday became one of the longest-running BBC Sports television programmes still being broadcast; the 2008 series was the 30th.
As the British appetite for alpine skiing changed over time, the programme experimented with different formats and time-slots. In recent years the show has been presented by, amongst others, Hazel Irvine, Matt Chilton, former British Olympic skier Graham Bell and Ed Leigh. The 2008 season started on 20 January in an extended prime time slot (Sundays 7pm to 8pm GMT) and was broadcast weekly on BBC2 for eight weeks. The 2008 revised format covered most forms of competition skiing and snowboarding as well as covering travelogue and entertainment features. The series also offered interactive features via the BBC Red Button service.
The 2009 series began on 10 January with a special preview programme presented by Graham Bell covering a summer trek in the Alps. The 2009 series-proper started on 18 January, and was again broadcast on BBC2 and BBC Red Button. Prior to the launch of the 2009 season, it was reported that the more general winter sports content of the 2008 format was not popular with viewers, and the BBC acknowledged: "we didn't get things quite right last year. Ski racing fans wanted more of the action and our new viewers wanted more adventure." Consequently, for 2009 the show was divided into two programmes: Ski Sunday and High Altitude; the former covering ski racing and the latter, "mountain adventure".
For the 2010 season, High Altitude was dropped and a stand-alone Ski Sunday comprised one half-hour programme weekly, shown around 5pm on BBC2 on Sunday evenings. It consisted largely of events coverage, plus a new clothing, equipment and technology slot, with further events covered and a worldwide skiing weather report accessible afterwards via the Red Button digital services. Bell and Leigh continued to present.
For the 2011 season, Ski Sunday returned on 9 January 2011 on BBC2 and ran until 2 February 2011 with Ski Sunday Extra available via the BBC Red Button interactive services. The show's format continued the 2010 approach, focusing on coverage of the unfolding alpine ski racing season interspersed with occasional featured segments on alternative winter sports such as Crashed Ice downhill skating and snowboard events. The format for the 2012 series remained largely unaltered, continuing to focus on the key alpine ski racing events with extended (and sometime live) coverage via the BBC's interactive service. Short magazine pieces also focused on winter sport personalities (such as Jenny Jones), events (such as Slopestyle) and travelogues.
The iconic theme music to the programme, "Pop Looks Bach" by Sam Fonteyn, has changed very little over the years and is well known to the British public. It has been re-mixed and sampled many times over. The music has also been used as the theme tune for the BBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics until the 2006 Games. In the US, the religion-oriented radio show The World Tomorrow used Pop Looks Bach as its opening music during the 1980s. It was first recorded for the Boosey & Hawkes Music Library in 1970, and was not written for the BBC. It has similarities to the opening of Bach's famous Fugue in D minor, which is referenced to by a church organ in the background instrumentation of the original recording.