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F1 on the BBC 2009

Posted in F1, sport with tags , , , , , on 03/01/2010 by mfcx4tm2

Back in 2009 (it seems so long ago now!) i wrote about the coverage of F1 on the BBC and gave my opinion on the various parts of the ensemble. That was back in July so i thought that, as everyone else i come across is doing a review of the year or the decade (or both), it was worth having a look back now that the season’s ended.

I think it’s fair to say that it was a super successful year for Formula 1 and the team at the Beeb. The coverage got better and better as the year progressed and the crowning glory of Jake Humphrey getting a kiss on the neck from the new world champion seemed to sum up how the crew are viewed by the F1 paddock.

Of all the team Jake was the standout success story of the year for me, we all know how good Martin Brundle is so that came as no surprise, but who would have thought that the boy from CBBC would take such a pressurised role by the scruff of the neck and perform so well. He dealt brilliantly with everything thrown at him, whether it was DC and EJ squabbling through his links or horrendous drama like Felipe Massa’s crash at Budapest. His blogs and Twitter updates gave a level of insight that fans have yet to see in F1 and is hopefully something that others in the F1 world will be encouraged to take up. The only thing he didn’t manage to do well was hide how happy and excited he was nearly every second on screen!

What I found even more surprising was Eddie Jordan’s rise in quality. I still had my reservations early in the season but he seemed to settle into the role more and more and by season’s end had taken on the guise of Mystic Meg, predicting Michael Schumacher’s return before anyone else. Maybe that’s just because EJ’s got a bigger mouth than anyone else in the F1 paddock but even still it’s great for the onlooking Formula 1 fan who doesn’t have access to that level of information. The longer the season went on the more I was impressed, as Eddie used his stature in the pitlane to get interviews with people previous pundits (think Jardine) wouldn’t have got near at such

f1 bbc

short notice (Schumi/Bernie). He might be slightly off the wall at times but he’s managed to tame this enough to make him informative as well as entertaining. His partnership with Coulthard (who also got better and better) makes really entertaining viewing but also gives the audience fantastic insight from people who have the inside track due to their history in the sport.

Unfortunately one member of the team still hasn’t convinced me. Jonathan Legard continues to disappoint in the lead commentary role in my opinion, though i did warm slightly more to him towards the end of the season. His commentary lacks authenticity, and i struggle to believe his excitement when he’s screaming ‘Go Go Go!’  or shouting about who’s about to get pole but is actually 2 seconds off the pace. I don’t know if it’s because i’m looking too hard for a Murray Walker replacement or he’s trying too hard to be one. Whatever it is, i think he would be better off if he just found his own style, as James Allen did when he supped from the poisened chalice for that short time on ITV. It will be interesting to see how he develops if the BBC stick with him, though i think he’ll continue to sound too calculated and scripted.

Despite this i’m very excited about the 2010 season and the BBC’s coverage of it. Having done such a good job in 2009 it’ll be interesting to see if they try anything new or they stick with a proven formula. I’d certainly like to hear a bit more from Lee McKenzie and David Croft, but as long as DC and EJ keep bickering and Jake keeps blogging i’ll be happy. Bring it on!


F1 on the BBC

Posted in F1, sport with tags , on 12/07/2009 by mfcx4tm2

BBC Team

The news that Formula 1 was coming back to the BBC was greeted with happiness all round. Whilst ITV had done a good job and certainlyimproved the coverage hugely over its time as broadcaster, there is something special about the sport returning to the beeb, its rightful home in my opinion.

In the lead up to the start of the season there was widespread speculation around what the coverage would entail, who the presenting line up would be and whether the beloved Chain would return. When we finally got to Australia and all these details were unveiled we weren’t disappointed. The coverage across all platforms has been excellent from the BBC, with great TV coverage supported by excellent interactive options and various online content. We even saw the return of The Chain as we’d dreamed.

The BBC managed to get nearly every detail right, bringing the key faces over from ITV and adding high quality new blood  to the mix. Jake Humphrey has been a sensation as anchorman and the material he provides for the website is top class as well. Supporting him David Coulthard has also proved a revelation, providing humour to go with the excellent insight we all expected. Even Eddie Jordan has found his feet over time and now adds something to the party, even if it is just being the butt of DC’s jokes. I wasn’t even a big fan of Ted Kravitz on ITV but he’s grown me over the season. Then there’s Martin Brundle who continues to prove why he’s won awards for his broadcasting.

So who haven’t we mentioned? Unfortunately there’s one key ingredient missing and it’s a pretty major one. Jonathan Legard has floundered since his promotion from radio to tv commentary. There’s something intensely annoying about his voice, an immediate drawback for a commentator, but he somehow manages to make this worse with the complete drivel that falls out of his mouth.   He gives the impression that this is the first time he’s watched Formula 1 and isn’t interested in learning anything about it, he just says what he sees on the screen. But he even manages to get this wrong as he comments on things he’s looking at out the window instead of what we can see at home.

Filling Murray Walker’s boots was always going to be a very difficult job. James Allen had a lot of critics in his time, but you can’t argue that he didn’t know and love the sport, even if he couldn’t convey that passion as well as we might have liked. But put him next to Legard and he looks like the commentating messiah. You can even tell from Brundle’s comments that he can’t stand him, though he does his best to stay calm while JL talks over his insightful and interesting points.  

Having watched a lot of the practice session coverage online i’ve heard David Croft prove himself time and time again to be a talented speaker with a great knowledge of the sport. Why he hasn’t been drafted in yet to replace Legard is beyond me, though i assume the BBC don’t want to lose face by acknowledging that they’ve made a mistake so soon. However, from a fans point of view i would respect the BBC a lot more if they saw the error of their ways quickly and promoted Croft. We need to rescue him from radio commentary soon before he gets ruined in the way Legard clearly has been. There have been numerous times this season when i’ve contemplated changing commentaries to Croft and Davidson but i can’t bring myself to sacrifice Brundle. I’d much prefer it if i could have the best of both worlds and see the back of this bumbling buffoon. You’ve done a great job BBC, don’t ruin it by persevering with one bad egg.