Offside

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Offside
Genre Chat show
Country of origin Scotland
Production company(s) BBC Scotland
Release
Original channel BBC Choice Scotland

Offside was a BBC Scotland football fanzine/comedy chat show starring Tam Cowan which ran on BBC Choice Scotland from September 1998, and transferred to BBC1 Scotland from 15 October 2001.

BBC Choice Scotland series

In its original digital-only incarnation, Offside was screened over three seasons on BBC Choice Scotland, racking up 108 editions between September 1998 and March 2001.

During this time, Cowan jousted with more than 250 football-related guests, from departing Scotland manager Craig Brown to former children's TV favourite (and Ayr United fan) Glen Michael.

There were three on-location editions of Offside, filmed at Hampden Stadium, Curler's Bar in Glasgow, and The Hunting Lodge, Kilmarnock.

In 1999, Offside won a Royal Television Society award for 'Regional Sports Entertainment Show of the Year'. The award was handed over at a ceremony in London by Ally McCoist.

Offside's final season on digital TV was broadcast UK-wide on BBC Choice. This move prompted an increase in viewer complaints to the BBC. In particular, there were repeated phone calls angrily asking for Tam Cowan "to learn to speak in recognisable English".

BBC1 Scotland series

When the programme transferred to BBC1 Scotland on 15 October 2001, it was no longer an in-house BBC Scotland production, but a joint effort with Glasgow independent producers, The Comedy Unit. This saw the introduction of The Comedy Unit's Phil Differ as co-producer, and comedian Jonathan Watson with a topical three-minute mini-version of Only an Excuse? called Only a Wee Excuse.

Other changes involved the programme being filmed before a live audience every Monday night at 7.30pm in Studio A at Queen Margaret Drive, Glasgow.

There was also an added emphasis on the show's interactive element.

The six-man team at the heart of the programme sported a wide range of football allegiances. Most famously, Tam Cowan supported Motherwell while Jonathan Watson supported Rangers. Co-producers Phil Differ and Tony Followell supported Celtic and Kilmarnock respectively. Writer and script editor Rab Christie was a devotee of Partick Thistle.

Memorable highlights

Memorable moments from the BBC Choice Scotland incarnation of the series included: agent and commentator Gordon Smith responding to accusations of flagrant wig-wearing by flaunting a Jackie Bird-inspired scarlet toupee; Tam Cowan being subjected to a violent water-pistol attack by pundits Murdo MacLeod and Stuart Cosgrove; and Herald sports writer Graeme Spiers publicly outing himself over his loving relationship with Elton John, by sitting at a piano and playing Elton's Your Song in a duet with Tam.

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