World's Strongest Man



Derek Hobson (1980)

Mike Adamle (1981)

Donny McLeod (1982-4)

John Craven (1985)

Archie MacPherson (1986)

Chris Serle (1988)

Bill McFarlan (1989-91)

Paul Dickenson (Voiceover, 1992-3)

Juliet Morris (1994-5)

Philippa Forrester (1996-7)

John Inverdale (1998-2006)

Martin Bayfield (2006-10)

James Richardson (2011-)

Caroline Pearce (2011)


Paul Dickenson (1994-2004)
Jamie Reeves (2000-4)
Nick Halling (2006-9)
Colin Bryce (2006-)
Paul Dickenson (again, 2009-14)
Danny Wallace (2015-)

Referee and event designer:
Dr Doug Edmunds (mid-1990s-2004),
Svend Karlsen (2006-)

Bill Kazmaier (interviewer, 2006)

Zoe Salmon (2009)
Alex Reid (2010)
Michelle Ackerley (2019-)

Previous commentators to appear here


Transworld International and Thames for ITV, 23 December 1980 and 8 December 1981

Transworld International for BBC1, 9 December 1982 to 1 January 2005

Transworld International & IMG Media Ltd for five, 1 January 2006 to 2 January 2009 (24 episodes in 4 series + 1 special)

Transworld International & IMG Media Ltd for Bravo, 4 January to 31 December 2010 (12 episodes in 2 series)

Transworld International & IMG Media Ltd for Channel 5, 27 December 2011 to present


To those who take part, World's Strongest Man is more than a mere gameshow, it's a proper sporting event. To which we at say "oh yeah, then how come it's filmed months in advance, bunged out over Christmas, and they don't even read out the results on Grandstand or nuffink?". And then back away a bit sharpish, 'cos those guys are bigger than us. Much bigger. (Except Andrew "Stumpy" Raynes. We could have him in a fight, easy.)

Guess when that paragraph was written, right?

Anyway, you know what this is. Thirty or so enormous blokes from around the world lift rocks, pull trains, hold up vans full of gold bricks, and suchthelike. The golden age was of course the 1980s, when it made a national hero out of British canary and budgie breeder and two-time world champ Geoff Capes. And later on it gave Jamie Reeves something to do in between hod-carrying appearances on Record Breakers.

The contest did hit a bit of a dull patch in the 1990s, but the new millennium saw it become very watchable again, thanks in no small part to the stellar presentation team of John Inverdale and Paul Dickenson. Even Jamie Reeves, his hod-carrying days long behind him, turned up to explain the events and assess the competitors' chances. Unfortunately, the whole Strongman thing really has gone on to a more professional Proper Sport footing in recent years, which alas means that what with having to hold down proper jobs as well, Britain's part-time strongmen didn't really stand a chance against those Eastern Europeans who spend 28 hours a day in training. A few Brits did compete with distinction - Terry Hollands and Mark "Master Enormo" Felix were ever-presents for a good long while - but it took until 2017 for the UK to get another winner courtesy of Eddie Hall, probably the biggest personality to emerge from the contest since Capes' heyday three decades earlier (and who promptly retired from competition to make wacky travelogues for UKTV).

It's moved all over the place, from ITV to BBC1, to Five, to Bravo and now back to Channel 5 again. John Inverdale did the first year on Five before being replaced by Martin Bayfield, who did his best to imitate his predecessor, bless him, but doesn't quite manage it. Also, what traditionally marked the days off between Boxing Day and New Year is now on at the beginning of January, Paul Dickenson disappeared for a while (though they did locate a replacement, Nick Halling, who sounds spookily like him) and the episodes don't finish with one of the competitors beating Inverdale up in a variety of comedy ways. Oh well. Nowadays the commentators are Colin Bryce, who is also a big cheese in the actual World's Strongest Man organisation, and Danny Wallace who is a, uh, leftfield choice. Since 2017 Channel 5 has folded all its Strongman coverage into the annual World's Strongest Man series, so things like Britain's Strongest Man and Europe's Strongest Man now air under the same banner.


In 2004, the contest was reduced to twelve competitors who took part in a complicated round-robin competition with a weird scoring system that we didn't quite understand ourselves. Happily they reverted back to the traditional "top two from each heat progress to the final" tournament format we all knew and loved in 2006.

As well as the main World's Strongest Man contest, the Beeb also showed Britain's Strongest Man, in which all the contestants are British, Europe's Strongest Man, in which all the contestants are European, and World's Strongest Woman, in which... well, you can probably work it out for yourself. Five also showed World's Strongest Man Super Series, a series of self-contained contests which serve as qualifying events for the main World's Strongest Man competition. British Eurosport also shows all sorts of variations on the theme, but we have to draw the line somewhere.

At 6' 10" (2.08m), Martin Bayfield is probably the UK's tallest game show host, perhaps even the tallest TV presenter overall, beating even John Leslie's impressive 6' 4", as well as Richard Osman's even more impressive 6' 7" and Greg Davies's especially impressive 6' 8".

Geoff Capes was a regular celebrity guest on various 1980's shows, including Crackerjack (on which he was inevitably gunged every time), Pot the Question and also Secret's Out, in which his budgie-breeding was his hobby for the panel of kids to guess. More recently, he has been seen on an advert for a certain insurance company. The advert shows Capes (complete with a mug bearing a picture of a budgie named 'Sparky', surprise, surprise) weighing down one end of a barge, while the advert's famous nodding bulldog is sitting happily (and high up) on the prow. ("Belting - right, Churchie?" says Capes. "Oh, yes!" replies the dog). Capes has also appeared even more recently on Antiques Master, displaying an impressive knowledge of, and interest in, antiques.

While it's always been a bit silly that the commentators, adding their contributions to an already-recorded event, have to pretend they don't know the outcome, it's become really very silly indeed now that Colin Bryce is a regular commentator - considering that not only is he physically present at the filming, but in many of the competitions he's actually the referee, and you can hear and sometimes even see him bellowing at the contenders while "simultaneously" doing commentary. (To be fair, in the voiceovers he mostly sticks to talking about the athletes' abilities and approaches in a general sense, and leaves the speculating-over-the-outcome bits to his co-presenter. But still.)

Web links

Official site

Historic contest records

See also

Britain's Strongest Man

World's Strongest Woman

World's Strongest Man Super Series


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