BBC Promo vid

Check out the new BBC F1 promo!

Theme: ‘The World’s Greatest Car Chase’

Two F1 cars in the BBC Sport colours of yellow and black race through city streets in the classic movie style, with a hint of that theme… I’m excited now. F1 is back on the Beeb. REALLY excited!

* okay, so they aren’t F1 cars, they’re mockups and they are in South Africa for no reason at all, but I don’t care.

This will air on all BBC channels in the few weeks before the season starts, and in cinemas nationwide. F1 is now arguably their biggest sports property and they are really going for it.


MotoGP back to Eurosport

Gotta love the about-face. First Dorna takes the rights from Eurosport to sell them to FTAs, then they do a deal with Eurosport France causing uproar among fans in the UK and beyond. and others are reporting that Dorna have changed their minds due to pressure from fans (and Toby Moody) and will indeed once again show 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP races during 2009. The support events will be live and the main event will be delayed on British Eurosport. I don’t know the status of the other local Eurosport services so I’m afraid you’ll have to check that yourselves.

2009 MotoGP Coverage (UK)

All MotoGP races are live on BBC2. These are followed on the Red Button by MotoGP Extra, an analysis programme. Also on the Red Button are the 125 and 250 races as well as qualifying for all classes. Commentary will be as before: Charlie Cox and Steve Parrish.

British Eurosport:
All MotoGP races are delayed on British Eurosport*. 125 and 250 will be live as will all Friday and Saturday practices. The big news: The Toby & Julian Show will return!

* I expect this to mean the main channel, not Eurosport 2.

Both broadcasters will make the races available online after the event, via BBC iPlayer and Eurosport Player respectively.

BBC F1 coverage announced

The BBC officially revealed their plans for the 2009 Formula 1 season today, confirming much of what has been rumoured over the last few months (particularly on the F1 thread of the DigitalSpy forums). This is the most comprehensive coverage of Formula 1 ever seen on free-to-air TV in this country, and rivals the pay-monthly options in Germany and Italy.

Note: This is UK only. There will be no live coverage on BBC World or BBC America.

Announcement here and press pack here (4 pages, remember to click through!).

First the broadcast team. This was announced in November and I posted short profiles in my post at the time (not to mention a video of The Chain). This is a recap of the line-up:

Anchor: Jake Humphrey
Pre/Post-Race Analysts: David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan
Commentary: Jonathan Legard and Martin Brundle
Pitlane: Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie

Coverage switches from ITV1 to BBC1. Humphrey brings a different style to the anchorman role, while Legard coming from radio is a much more laid back presence in the hot seat than his two predecessors. Brundle brings his lengthy F1, Sportscar, and now TV experience back to the commentary box. Kravitz also joins from ITV with McKenzie coming from coverage of A1GP and GP2. DC and EJ should be a hoot in the post-race analysis whenever anything controversial happens!

Commentary: David Croft and Anthony Davidson
Pitlane: Holly Samos

BBC Radio 5 Live continues on from last year. Croft and Samos continue as before while Maurice Hamilton (no relation to Lewis) is replaced by the excellent but out-of-work F1 driver Davidson, who lost his drive when Super Aguri went under and ended up guesting for BBC Radio coverage last season. To be honest I rarely listen to this coverage as I’m watching the TV.

Blogs from the commentary legend that is Murray Walker, current driver Mark Webber, the current on-screen team and their producer(?) as part of an overall relaunch of the Motorsport section of the website, which has been pretty poor over the last couple of years.

Next… the details!

(I’ll recap how you can receive these channels at the end of this post.)

– Every F1 race of 2009 will air live on BBC One and Radio 5 Live.

– Every qualifying session will air live on BBC One and 5 Live, except for Brazil which will be on BBC Two due to the time zones interfering with the beginning of primetime.

– Every race and qualifying session that happens before 10am UK will get a repeat showing that afternoon. ITV has done this for some time.

– There will be a highlights show on BBC Three every Sunday evening at 7pm (not Brazil). ITV last year showed highlights at midnight.

– Each race will be available on BBC iPlayer for up to 7 days after the event. Once downloaded you can keep it for up to 30 days. I think the BBC3 highlights package will also be available if you’re short on time.

– Every Friday and Saturday practice session will air live on the BBC Red Button and online, and 5 Live Sports Extra. No word on whether the TV will feature radio commentary, for the moment I am assuming it will. ITV last year did not have any commentary on their online feed.

Red Button
BBC Interactive’s Red Button service for Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin customers will feature some special delights:

– A choice of commentary: either the TV or Radio feed. Hell of choice between Brundle and Davidson, as well as being quick drivers they are both natural broadcasters.

– All practice sessions will be on the red button, not on BBC 1, 2, 3.

– After qualifying and race coverage has finished on BBC1 there will be an ‘Interactive Forum’ on the RB. This is a phone/text/email show with talk from DC and EJ.

– During the race there will be a choice of screens:
1) The main BBC One feed with choice of commentary;
2) Split screen featuring the main feed in one window, onboards in a second window, and a leaderboard;
3) Rolling highlights of the race so far;

Those on the DigitalSpy forum think #2 will be similar to Premiere in Germany, which looks like this:

(with thanks to whoever I stole that from)

Um. Can I just say? Ultra-cool!

No word yet on whether this will be extended for qualifying, or jut race-only, but it’s pretty cool either way.

I am seething a little here because I don’t get the interactive service until Digital Switchover occurs in my region in May. Luckily those streams are online! They’ll be geo-locked to UK-only but I’m sure the techies among you will figure out a way around that. And it means my first Red Button trials will occur during the Monaco Grand Prix – kick ass!

There is a very high degree of likeliness that we will see a Top Gear F1 Special sooner rather than later. Lee McK has already done the lap! I’m having visions of the TG team wandering around the F1 paddock, not during race coverage but as a part of the next series.

5 Live will have a preview show on Friday nights of race weekends, as they have done for a while now. Also continuing is the post-race Chequered Flag podcast featuring driver interviews. I have to say I’ve completely missed the boat on both of those shows, I will try and catch up with them this year. All you international readers should be able to download the podcast freely.


Okay I think that’s everything, but I’m sure to have missed something – please let me know in the comments!

How To Get These Channels

BBC1 and BBC2 are obviously available everywhere, if you don’t know how to get those you aren’t in the UK so none of this post applies to you…
BBC3 and Red Button are on digital TV only. You should be able to find BBC3 easily enough on Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media. To go Interactive just hit Red during any F1 broadcast.

5 Live is on 909 and 693 Medium Wave, DAB and online.
5 Live Sports Extra is on DAB and online.

I’m not sure the online feed for radio will work , it’s historically been blacked out during F1, so use the TV feed.

I’m sure any American/Canadian/other readers will be turning to our mutual friend Justin for a little help if they don’t like their own domestic feed..

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PS – Meesh sez the USF1 announcement was a washout so I’ll not recap that today, head over to her blog instead.
PPS – Got my tax exam result last week. Pass. *Yay*

BBC F1 2009 – broadcast team

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.

All qualifying sessions will be aired live on BBC Two (the home of ‘Top Gear’ and ‘Heroes’, fact fans) for the 2009 season.

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.