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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Tina Campbell

Eamonn Holmes claims BBC once planned to replace him with Gary Lineker until colleagues foiled plot

Eamonn Holmes has claimed that the BBC had intended to replace him with Gary Lineker but that his colleagues blocked the move by sticking up for him.

The Irish broadcaster, 63, previously fronted snooker programme Pot Black for the BBC in the early 1990s, but his position was allegedly under threat from the 62-year-old former professional footballer.

Holmes made the surprising revelation on GB News while discussing comments made by retired broadcaster Des Lynam, who argued Match of the Day presenter Lineker should stick to sport and not air political opinions.

Lynam’s remarks were in reference to Lineker being forced to “step back” from presenting the football show earlier this year until he and the BBC reached an “agreed and clear position” on social media use.

“He was very complimentary about Gary, says he liked him as a broadcaster,” Holmes began.

“Des is the doyen, Des is the Pope of broadcasting. He is the one if you were any good you wanted to be like because he was the best.

“See, Gary Lineker actually changed the way sports representation happened after that because prior to that, there were anchors, people like David Coleman, Frank Bough, Dickie Davies, Des Lynam,” he continued.

“After Des, it was sports hosts who anchored all the programmes. You had to have competed at some level or been involved in sport.”

The former This Morning presenter went on to explain how he believes Lineker is a “very, very good presenter”, but that the “landscape” has changed.

Asked if he felt this changes was for the better, he mused: “I don’t think it’s a good idea, particularly on football.

Eamonn Holmes used to front Pot Black for the BBC in the 1990s (BBC)

“I think it’s very good to have someone who has an interest… in the game and be asked somewhat naive or silly questions at some stage but have the passion of a fan.

“You don’t always have to be an expert to present certain stuff.

“I used to host snooker for the BBC at that stage, and they wanted to replace me with Gary Lineker. Pot Black and things...” Ruth Langsford’s husband continued.

“I’m lucky that the snooker players, I think, got together as a union and said, ‘No, we like Eamonn.’

“And, actually, it’s a tremendous tribute to me that they said, ‘No, we want Eamonn to stay’, and they had that power that meant that I stayed on hosting snooker, that was a great compliment.”

It appears that it’s all water under the bridge now as Holmes concluded by declaring Lineker a “top man”.

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