BBC Radio Sheffield Praise or Grumble creator Bob Jackson dies aged 88

Robert ‘Bob’ Jackson, who has died at 88, was one of Sheffield’s best-known names in media, and the inventor of a durable radio format called Praise or Grumble.
Robert JacksonRobert Jackson
Robert Jackson

He devised it as a phone-in when he worked as a sports producer at BBC Radio Sheffield. It became an instant hit with the city’s football fans, of either persuasion, and spawned countless, paler imitations around the world. It is still broadcast today.

“I’ve always believed in this country we grumble far too much,” he said of its development. “We very rarely say ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’, but we grumble when something’s gone wrong.

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“So we invented a phone-in at around about five past five. 40 seconds for the person to have a grumble about anything to do with local sport or life in general. If they couldn’t say it in 40 seconds we just switched them off and went to the next caller.”

Mr Jackson was at the station for 20 years, from 1972, but as a former teacher and long-time community worker, it was but one string to his bow.

After attending Abbey Lane Junior School and King Edward VII School, Mr Jackson became a clerk at Sheffield Town Hall, before completing his National Service in the Navy and training as a PE teacher at the Sheffield Collegiate site.

A spell in teaching at Grimesthorpe Juniors, Sheffield, was followed by work in the family fruit and veg business, Charles Jackson and Sons, at the Castlefolds and Parkway Markets. When the business was sold, he parlayed his love of sport into a broadcast career, first in hospital radio and then at the BBC. He began there by covering Rotherham United and eventually filled the full-time role of producer.

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His interests extended far beyond football. He was President of the Sheffield and District Parks Bowling Association, a key figure at the Millhouses Bowling Club – where only recently he won for the 10th time in its 100-year history the Abbeydale Challenge Cup – and a past chairman of the British Crown Green Bowling Association.

He was also a popular figure in South Yorkshire sporting world, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Sheffield United luminaries Chris Wilder, Kevin McCabe and Dave Bassett, and with cricket’s Michael Vaughan and Dickie Bird.

For many years he was chair of the Sheffield Marathon organising committee, which helped thousands of runners to raise money for local charities.

He was also a former chair of the Sheffield Bench and a sitting magistrate, a member of the Sheffield Probus Club and of the Rotary Club of Sheffield, which awarded him the Paul Harris Fellowship Award for services to the organisation.

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He received an honorary degree from Sheffield Hallam University for Services to Sport, and was a former governor at Sir Harold Jackson School and Jordanthorpe/Meadowhead Secondary.

He is survived by his widow, Mary, three children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.