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Off the Ball is a radio show broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00pm – 2:00pm on BBC Radio Scotland. It takes a satirical and sideways view at football in Scotland, self-styling itself as "The most petty and ill-informed sports programme on radio!".
|Running time||120 minutes|
|Country of origin||Scotland|
|Home station||BBC Radio Scotland|
|Hosted by||Stuart Cosgrove & Tam Cowan|
|Original release||13 August 1994 – present|
|Opening theme||"Let Me Clear My Throat" by DJ Kool|
|Website||Off the Ball|
|Podcast||Off the Ball podcast|
The show began in August 1994, and is currently (since 1995) presented by broadcaster and writer Stuart Cosgrove, a fan of St Johnstone, and newspaper columnist Tam Cowan, a Motherwell supporter, plus at least two weekly guests; usually one from the world of Scottish football and one from Scottish culture. When the show first began, it was hosted by Cowan and comedians Greg Hemphill and Sanjeev Kohli, who later acknowledged that they did not have the depth of football knowledge required to give credibility to the format in addition to its humorous aspects, which Cosgrove was successful in providing. The show was known as On the Ball when it aired from 1:30pm until 2pm prior to the 3pm matches being played on Saturdays, with the post-football show being called Off the Ball.
Occasionally, other presenters will cover for Cosgrove or Cowan if they are not available, including comedian Ray Bradshaw, Amy Irons and Chick Young.
Listener interaction is always encouraged on the show, with the presenters asking for contributions on a variety of football and non-football related topics. Limericks are often asked for, with the first line usually given by Cowan or Cosgrove.
Team of the WeekEdit
Listeners are invited to contribute names of football players for a subject suggested by Cowan. For example, if the subject was "The Female Fashion XI", then players such as Alan Bra-zil and Lionel Dress-i would be in the team. In a long-running joke, former Clyde player Tommy Ring is almost always included in the team.
The Terracing Teaser is a weekly competition, with a question usually suggested by Cowan, in the format of "If x is the answer, then what is the question?". Cowan, Cosgrove and a guest choose a winner, and they win their choice of either an Off the Ball mug or a face mask.
The Off the Ball JukeboxEdit
A song is always chosen to end the Saturday programme based on listeners' suggestions on a subject suggested by Cowan, usually related to a news event from that week. On the Sunday show, songs with a particular theme are chosen by the listeners and played in full, with one selection each from Cowan, Cosgrove and the studio guest.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, National Clinical Director of the Scottish Government, Professor Jason Leitch, was a regular guest on the Saturday programme, answering listeners' questions about the pandemic. The guest in the studio also had the opportunity to ask Professor Leitch a question.
A weekly podcast of the show is produced and is available on a Saturday. The show is also available on the BBC Sounds app for thirty days after the first broadcast. A podcast of the Sunday show is also produced and is made available during the following week.
A spin-off annual was published in 1999, co-written by Cosgrove and Cowan. No other annuals were subsequently published.
- Off the Ball: Celebrating 25 years of the most petty and ill-informed football show, BBC Sport, 17 December 2019
- Castle, Jill. "Tam Cowan returns to Off the Ball after BBC lift suspension". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
- Off the Ball at BBC website
- Programme of the week: BBC Radio Scotland's off the Ball, Football365
- Celebrating 25 years of radio success Off the Ball, Scottish Field
- As Off The Ball clocks up its quarter century, presenters Stuart Cosgrove and Tam Cowan on why they're still shooting from the lip, HeraldScotland
- Interview: 25 years on, Tam Cowan on why fans needed Off the Ball, The Scotsman