After 30 years, wrestling falls back on to ITV

IT WAS once a staple of Saturday evening TV, after the racing and before the football results.

Glory days: Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks in 1984

Professional wrestling, often transmitted from such exotic Yorkshire locations as Leeds Town Hall, entertained viewers for decades, even if they suspected the results were fixed.

It disappeared in 1985 when executives decided it was “too down-market” for an increasingly upwardly mobile audience.

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But ITV announced today that they had decided to resurrect it for a new generation of viewers. A new 10-part series will air later this year.

ITV's new wrestling line-up

The comeback show, WOS Wrestling, takes its name from the old World of Sport programme, ITV’s answer to Grandstand, which also ended in 1985.

Its commissioning follows a one-off special, on New Year’s Eve.

The original coverage, which began with the channel’s inception in 1955, made household names of wrestlers like the 26-stone Big Daddy, real name Shirley Crabtree from Halifax, as well as the showmen Mick McManus and Giant Haystacks.

Tom Mclennan, of ITV Studios in Manchester, said: “Britain’s wrestling scene is thriving and there has never been a better time to bring it back to ITV after a gap of 30 years.”

ITV's new wrestling line-up