Presented byClare, Gary and GabbySports Personality team

Horseplay, heartbreak and heroes

Over the past 60 years the sporting world has changed beyond recognition, but one thing has remained constant: BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Every December sees an end to fevered speculation, when the winner of Sports Personality is announced.

Sir Bradley Wiggins described the award as “the most iconic trophy in British sport, as it encapsulates all sports”. Celebrating winners, and honouring the achievements of sporting legends past and present, the show has produced many iconic moments.


A Sports Personality is born

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Initially part of Sports Review, the first BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award was won by runner Chris Chataway in 1954.

No one could have predicted how Sports Personality of the Year would evolve when the first award was handed out in 1954.

Initially, Sports Personality was an award which featured on the inaugural Sports Review of 1954. The editor Sir Paul Fox explained the process: “To vote, you had to buy the Radio Times, fill in the coupon and send it in. A mass of coupons came in. So I took three or four bags home and my young children counted the votes.” Roger Bannister, who ran the first four-minute mile, was widely expected to win, but it was fellow runner Chris Chataway who triumphed, after he had set a 5000m world record.

1954 winner Sir Christopher Chataway

The Sportsview Personality of the Year will be presented with a model of a television camera as a trophy.

Peter Dimmock, first presenter of Sports Review


Hill and Stewart's verbal sparring

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Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill were a regular fixture on the earlier editions of Sports Personality of the Year.

Motorsport legends Jackie Stewart and the late Graham Hill swapped racing for verbal spars during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Stewart and Hill were great friends away from the track. Their skits were entirely unrehearsed but both demonstrated natural wit and comic timing. Stewart went on to win Sports Personality in 1973 while Graham's son Damon claimed the prize in both 1994 and 1996.

Sir Jackie Stewart retires with third F1 title

It was always a show I wanted to see.

Jackie Stewart, Sports Personality of the Year 1973


A sporting crown for a royal athlete

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Princess Anne receives the Sports Personality trophy from boxer Henry Cooper in 1971.

In 1971, at the age of 21, Princess Anne became the first Royal to be named Sports Personality of the Year.

After winning the individual European three-day event title at Burghley, the Princess Royal's horsemanship earned her the title. Her daughter Zara Phillips repeated the feat by winning Sports Personality in 2006. Zara won the Eventing World Championships in Aachen, Germany and later went on to win a silver medal in Team Eventing at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

HRH Princess Anne is first Royal winner


Red Rum makes a surprise visit

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Red Rum makes an impromptu visit to the BBC studios in 1977. His ears prick up when he recognises the voice of his jockey Tommy Stack.

Possibly one of the more unusual moments was when three-time Grand National champion Red Rum dropped into the studio for a ‘chat’ in 1977.

Staff had to put the thoroughbred in a lift because the studio wasn't on the ground floor. Health and Safety would have a field day if that was to happen today! But Red Rum was a national icon in the 1970s. Songs were written about him, his image adorned posters and mugs and he even helped switch on the lights at Blackpool Tower.

1977: Hat-trick for Red Rum


Frank Bruno the comic genius

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Although Frank was an outstanding sportsman in his own right, golf wasn't a sport he had mastered yet – leaving the audience in hysterics

Former heavyweight boxing champion Frank Bruno was a regular on Sports Personality throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

His willingness to take part in a variety of light-hearted games in the studio, coupled with his camaraderie with host Des Lynam often had the audience roaring with laughter. Lynam remembers those occasions fondly: “Frank had this extraordinary manner of speaking and this wonderful sense of humour. Those games that we used to play in the show in those days, Frank was always involved in them when he was there."

BBC Sports Personality's top three funny moments

Is that how you hold it Henry?

Frank Bruno


The ultimate sports personality

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Muhammad Ali receives the Sports Personality of the Century Award, after a warm tribute from Harry Carpenter.

The end of the Millennium was marked with the most prestigious award in the show’s history: Sports Personality of the Century.

Despite a field of sporting legends to choose from, the winner received more votes than all the other nominees combined. As a man responsible for many of the 20th Century’s iconic sporting moments, and someone who had long transcended sport, Muhammad Ali was a fitting winner. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Ali received his award to rapturous applause, and he showed he hadn’t lost his legendary wit when he joked about making a comeback to the ring.

BBC News: Boxing legend Ali dies aged 74Muhammad Ali: The ultimate fighter

I had a good time boxing. I enjoyed it - and I may come back.

Muhammad Ali, Sports Personality of the Century


Helen Rollason Award

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Paul Hunter's widow Lindsey accepts the Helen Rollason Award in 2006.

This award was introduced in 1999 in honour of the former BBC presenter Helen Rollason who died of cancer aged 43.

It is awarded "for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity". In 2006, snooker player Paul Hunter was posthumously honoured in recognition of his bravery and determination to continue playing while battling cancer. The three-time Masters champion had passed away two months previously after losing his battle with cancer and the award was accepted by his widow Lindsey.

Helen Rollason Award


Achievements of a lifetime

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José María Olazábal pays an emotional tribute to his friend Seve Ballesteros as he presents him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The show has long honoured legends from the UK and overseas. The introduction of the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 added another dimension.

This award has led to many poignant moments in the Sports Personality studio. George Best in 2002, Sir Bobby Robson in 2008, to Seve Ballesteros in 2009 were honoured during emotionally charged scenes. Seve was recognised for his contribution to golf, with his five Major wins and inspirational Ryder Cup performances all achieved with style and vigour. He formed an iconic Ryder Cup partnership with José María Olazábal and it was fitting that it was Olazábal who presented the award.

Golf great Seve Ballesteros dies at 54


Smithy: 'Coach' of the Year

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Teaming up with Sport Relief, Smithy takes on sporting royalty following his coaching ‘honour’ in 2009.

It certainly hasn't all been serious sports chat in the studio, especially when 'Smithy' teamed up with Sport Personality in 2009.

Britain's sporting stars must have been shaking in their boots when Smithy aka James Corden collected his 'coach' of the year award. Immediately Corden set upon Britain's sporting royalty, mocking Andrew Flintoff for his drinking and Paula Radcliffe for her unfortunate accident during the 2008 Olympic Games. While the stars writhed in embarrassment, we all had a good laugh.

BBC Sport Relief 2016


The Poznan

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The arena bounced in unison with their backs to the stage to honour Manchester City's last minute win to secure their first league title since 1968.

Rocking the arena, the 14,000 capacity crowd at the ExCeL Arena in London did the 'Poznan' in 2012, which was synonymous with Manchester City fans.

The Poznan celebration involves supporters standing with their backs to the football pitch, linking shoulders and jumping on the spot in unison. Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany and goal scoring hero Sergio Agüero were blown away by the reception, which came in the year City won the league for the first time in 44 years.

The moment Manchester City won the Premier League title

It’s the most iconic trophy in sport. More so than the World Cup or the FA Cup, because it’s across all sports.

Bradley Wiggins, Sports Personality of the Year 2012


The perils of live TV

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Andy Murray and Lennox Lewis prove that silence isn't always golden.

Things don’t always run smoothly in live broadcasting, and Sports Personality has seen its share of amusing gaffes as a result.

One particularly awkward moment arose when Andy Murray was to receive his SPOTY award in 2012, at his Miami training camp. Former undisputed heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis flew in for the occasion, with one job to do – present the award. Unfortunately Lewis failed to take his cue from presenter Sue Barker back in the UK and the stunted exchange resulted in Murray picking up the award himself. Both men sportingly laughed off the embarrassment.

Andy Murray and Pat Cash reveal the secrets of the serve


Evolution of Sports Personality

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In this clip from a 2013 programme marking the 60th anniversary of Sport's Personality many iconic moments in British sporting history are recalled.

In 2016, as Sports Personality of the Year comes to Birmingham, the show continues to evolve.

From humble origins in 1954, Sports Personality has grown into one of the most coveted awards in sport. While there will be plenty of glitz and glamour on display on the red carpet, the show remains synonymous with celebrating sporting excellence and achievements through the year.

Sports Personality Roll of Honour: Every winner