Ski Sunday premiered in 1978 and has been one of the longest-running sports shows on the BBC, following the 1976 Winter Olympics' success. The ski-themed show airs each winter and follows the ski competition circuit typically. The limited series generally begins in January and marks the start of the ski season for many ski and snowboard fans - it’s the perfect end to the weekend after a big Sunday roast.
Viewers can immerse themselves in the stunning mountain backdrops and epic snowsports coverage. Current presenters, Graham Bell and Ed Leigh take you on a journey to some of the most breath-taking and challenging alpine locations in this magazine-style television show on BBC2. The programme is packed with adrenaline-pumping winter sports, updates on Team GB and a whole host of alternative winter activities.
Since its inception in 1978, Ski Sunday was introduced as part of the Sunday Grandstand. Ron Pickering and David Vine originally presented the iconic show. Viewers have always been captivated by the programme’s magnificent scenery and perilous exploits of the downhill skiers.
The show has not always followed the same structure, creatively experimenting with varied formats and timeslots. The early versions covered more general winter sports content. Following the mixed reviews of the 2008 season, with the BBC acknowledging that ‘ski racing fans wanted more of the action and our new viewers wanted more adventure’. Therefore, the subsequent 2009 season was divided into two programmes: Ski Sunday and High Altitude, with Ski Sunday covering the ski racing and High Altitude covering mountain adventure.
From 2010, High Altitude was dropped, and Ski Sunday became a standalone programme for half an hour each week. The show has continued with this format since these changes, featuring alpine ski racing season combined with occasionally featured segments on alternative winter sports such as Crashed Ice Downhill Skating and snowboard events.
Ski Sunday has showcased some big names in the winter sports industry, such as Jenny Jones (who has done some presenting on Ski Sunday), Chemmy Alcott, Dave Ryding, Mikaela Shiffrin and Billy Morgan. Chemmy Alcott took over from Graham Bell for the 2020/21 series while he appeared on Dancing On Ice.
The distinctive theme tune of Ski Sunday is called Pop Looks Bach by the late English composer-pianist, Sam Fonteyn. The memorable music has also been used as a theme tune for BBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics until the 2006 Games. The theme music was recorded in 1970. In 2018 to celebrate Ski Sunday turning 40 years old, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra put on a special performance of the iconic theme tune.
BBC Philharmonic perform the Ski Sunday theme
Former Winter Olympian skier, Graham Bell. Highlights of Bell’s career include taking on the Arctic Circle Race; a 260km cross-country skiing race in Greenland; and surviving a night in a snow-hole without food, water or sleeping bag. He has presented Ski Sunday since 2002 and was part of the team when Ski Sunday won a Royal Television Society award in 2002.
Ed got his first taste of snowboarding working in a snowboard shop names Noah’s Ark, before spending five years snowboarding in Val d’Isere. Leigh has had a long-running career in the media, focussing mainly on winter sport. Leigh became co-presenter of Ski Sunday alongside Graham Bell, following his vivacious commentary of the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Jenny Jones is the most prolific professional snowboarder in the UK. In 2014 she won the Bronze medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, making her the first Brit to win an Olympic medal in a snow event. Throughout 2016 and 2017, Jones landed a role guest presenting Ski Sunday on BBC2.
Ski Sunday usually starts on the first Sunday of January and runs through until the middle of February, covering most of the World Cup Ski races. Generally, there are 6/7 episodes in each series.
The Ski Sunday music is called Pop Looks Bach and is written by Sam Fonteyn – an English composer/pianist. The piece of music has been part of the show since the start.
Ed Leigh and Graham Bell have been presenting Ski Sunday for the last 10 years. First airing in 1978 there have been 37 series in total.