EDIT – I’ve noticed people are still arriving on this older post via Google. Please go ahead and read this, but then make sure you check out the update here – thanks!
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From the BBC Sport website:
David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan have joined the BBC as part of next year’s presentation team in Formula One.
Coulthard, who retired as a race driver at the end of the 2008 season, will join former team boss Jordan as a pundit alongside anchor Jake Humphrey.
Jonathan Legard moves from 5 Live to commentate with ex-F1 driver and award-winning broadcaster Martin Brundle.
The pit-lane reporters will be Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie.
This is excellent news! Can you just imagine Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard as analysts? These are probably the most outspoken, witty and fun guys in the paddock. DC has certainly grown into himself since leaving McLaren, at least to the outside world’s perception. This is going to be fun! Now, I’m not sure either will be in the commentary box, or “the booth” in American parlance. I think they’ll be in a studio role either in London or trackside. It’ll still be great and I fully expect them to interject into the race commentary.
Jake Humphrey as main anchor will bring the F1 coverage away from the “grey-haired old anchorman” style we’ve had for the last however many years (always?), which just does not fit with the image of Formula 1 as a young, dynamic sport. More so since Red Bull joined the party. He’s a capable guy in his 30s who has covered the Olympics, the Euro 2008 football tournament, and a host of other sports for the BBC. He’s very much the up-and-coming man at BBC Sport and has been for the last year, this can be considered his first major long-term anchor role as his other stuff was for annual events, magazine shows or for the Olympics, a results roundup show.
Jonathan Legard (no Wiki page) was the main commentator for BBC Radio Five Live from 1997 to 2004, before taking on a football role for the station. Five Live is the BBC’s main sports and news talk radio station. I’m not familiar with his work in either of those roles and I’m not entirely sure what TV experience he has, so I’ll be watching with interest to see if he can translate to the less descriptive style of television. Because of this he is potentially the weak link in the chain.
Side-note: David Croft currently holds the F1 commentary role for Five Live and looks like retaining that job. Croft also covered GP2 for ITV4 this year, leading to speculation that he was training himself for the Big One. I’m pretty sure Croftie is going to be gutted with this decision, and while he is fairly good, he does make a fair few mistakes on the GP2 coverage. I’m not saying it’s an easy job, but still..
Ted Kravitz became ITV’s pit strategy reporter when James Allen was promoted to lead commentary on Murray Walker’s retirement in 2002. Kravitz is hot on the strategic side of the sport and has definitely improved over the years. It used to be that Allen was the best pit reporter in town and Ted did well to fill those shoes. Allen turned out to be a good but not great commentator – he did get better, no matter what many people on the internet may say (I’m by no means a big fan, but you have to give credit where due). Kravitz has done some anchor work for the BTCC on ITV4 and you have to say he hasn’t been great in that role. I’m glad he continues in his element next year.
Lee McKenzie is not the token female, just as Louise Goodman wasn’t at ITV. McKenzie has experience in the pitlane role for Sky Sports’ coverage of A1 Grand Prix as well as covering WRC and many other motorsport events. It says on Wiki she has her own company looking after several top drivers in several championships, which I never knew. I think she’ll be good if the BBC doesn’t relegate her to Louise’s more recent role of simply trailing after drivers who have crashed out for whatever reason. We need that but some idea of what the lower order are doing in the pits would be nice too.
This is such a brilliant line-up, I’m like a little kid at hearing this! The article quoted above says the practical side of things will be announced later but I can tell you this:
Race coverage will be live and exclusive on BBC One (home of ‘Eastenders’, ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ (AKA the origination of ‘Dancing w/t Stars’) and ‘Spooks’ (‘MI5’)) for the entire 2009 season. In full. With no adverts. At all. Ever. Unless you count BBC self-promos. Of which there are many.
There is speculation that there will be enhanced coverage available on digital TV via the ‘red button’ interactive service, including alternate camera angles and live timing, similar to the service on the Premiere channel in Germany.
Okay… so you’ve convinced me… NOW the licence fee is worth it!
Music recommendation: Fleetwood Mac – ‘The Chain’ (BBC F1 intro 1996)
If the Beeb doesn’t bring back their iconic Grand Prix theme tune in some form or another then they are utter, utter, fools.
Note to international readers: This is about BBC taking back the rights from ITV for the first time since the close of the 1996 season. If you didn’t grow up to this music then you probably don’t ‘get it’, but believe me: This is Very. Very. Cool. Goosebumps every time I hear it.