Sports commentator and the voice of Dancing on Ice;
Born: September 23, 1943; Died: March 11, 2013.
Tony Gubba, who has died at the age of 69, was a popular sports commentator who later became recognisable as the wry voice of the ITV show Dancing on Ice. Football was his speciality and he spent much of his television career working for the BBC as a commentator and presenter on the Saturday afternoon sports show Grandstand as well as Sportsnight and Match of the Day.
He was born in Manchester and after attending Blackpool Grammar School began a career in journalism, on local newspapers and then the Daily Mirror. His broadcasting career began with Southern Television in Southampton before he switched to the BBC in 1972, eventually replacing David Coleman as presenter of Sportsnight.
Football was always his first love – he started on Match of the Day in 1973 and was often seen doing trackside interviews – but he could turn his skills to any sport and over the years commentated on hockey, table tennis, golf, tennis, bobsleigh, ski jumping, darts and ice skating, which led to his job on Dancing on Ice.
He was also a regular presenter on the Olympics from Munich in 1972 to London 2012 as well as the Winter Olympics and every World Cup from 1974 to 2006.
Children of the 1970s will also recognise Gubba as one of the faces of Grandstand – he would stand in for Frank Bough – although he was never quite able to break through to the top tier of commentating dominated by John Motson and Barry Davies.
His stint on Dancing on Ice began when Christoper Dean and Jayne Torvill recommended him for the job. He was told to present it like Terry Wogan on the Eurovision Song Contest and understood the commission immediately, treating the skating with the right mix of seriousness and gentle sarcasm.
Throughout it all he had the respect and affection of football fans and fellow commentators and presenters. John Motson called him one of the original probing reporters; Gary Lineker called him one of the great voices of football.
He is survived by his partner Jenny, two daughters from a previous marriage and three granddaughters.
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