THE longevity of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Award can be attributed to its simplicity during its formative years when viewers used to cut a coupon out of the Radio Times and submit their nomination by post.
Ever since the inaugural show in 1954 when the athlete Christopher Chataway got the nod over Roger Bannister, the first person to break the four-minute mile, there’s been a slight element of surprise.
Now the BBC has announced changes to the format for the 65th renewal this December, with the shortlist only being revealed on the night before a telephone vote. There are myriad reasons for this – the element of surprise, less controversy over the shortlist’s composition, a desire to boost viewing figures and to stop contenders campaigning for support. Yet, thanks to the UK’s sporting resurgence, there do remain two certainties – this is still the ultimate prize in British sport and the winner will divide public opinion.