Paddy McGuinness was named as Sue Barker’s replacement on a Question of Sport earlier this year, as the host stepped down from the role after 24 years at the helm.
BBC bosses revealed it was all change on the long-running quiz, with Sam Quek and Ugo Monye stepping in as team captains for the 51st series, taking over from Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell.
However, while Top Gear presenter Paddy said it was an honour to be given pride of place on one of his favourite shows, some questioned the move at the time.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk and other press ahead of the launch of the new series on Friday, co-star Sam was having none of it, and leapt to his defence.
Discussing Paddy’s role, she said: ‘I think also it’s so important to remember it’s a sports quiz, it’s sport. One of the best things about sport is that it’s inclusive to anyone, anyone’s background or age, especially in this show.
‘I remember watching it when I was 10, maybe younger, watching it with my family and my nan would be in the corner. The generation gap is massive, and I think that reflects massively in us three, because the different backgrounds we’re from and what our strengths are.
‘To watch the show, you don’t have to be a sport expert, you don’t have to play sports, so why is everyone making a fuss about the presenter not being an elite athlete, or having that experience?’
‘It’s really important to remember that if sport is inclusive, it should be the same with a Question of Sport, and it is,’ the hockey ace continued.
‘You have to attract different audiences. I hope that it’s not just sports fans or sports people who are watching this show, I hope it’s people from different backgrounds, and who have different interests, who may watch the show for the 10th year, the 50th year, or the first time.
‘What we have as a threesome is that we get on so well, but we also represent different people and different things.’
Sue Barker, Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell left a Question of Sport Picture: BBC)
Paddy previously vowed that he would try to put his own spin on the series, and will be stepping into Sue’s shoes this week.
But the Take Me Out star insisted that, despite the change in line-up, the main premise of the show, the fun and the heart behind it is still the same.
‘I think it’s amazing doing this show with Sam and Ugo, knowing them as I do, and having a laugh off camera – when they answer stuff, I do sit there and think, “Where have they pulled that from?”,’ he told us. ‘So the knowledge is there, 100%.
‘Like anything, when it’s new and everything’s changed, everyone is like, “How is this going to be?” If someone guesses something wrong, “Oh that means they don’t know about that”. Which is a million miles away from what it actually is.
‘All the games have been high-scoring, so there’s been plenty of answers, and plenty of fun. I think people on a Friday night, especially when the family gets around the telly, they’re going to enjoy it.’
’It’s not a whole, brand new thing, it’s just nice and chilled, but with a few new elements,’ he promised. ‘I like the dynamic and how it’s working, and I like how it works on the floor as well.
‘Lucky for me, I’ve got the answers, so I don’t have to worry about figuring out who won bronze in the 1964 Olympic games.’
Question of Sport returns on Friday, at 7.35pm, on BBC One.