Allen On The Beeb?

Allen On The Beeb?

ITV LogoAlthough F1 will probably not return to the BBC (for UK viewers and those ‘lucky’ enough to get their feed from ITV) for a number of years yet, regular reader and commenter Desmond has asked what would the general reaction be within Formula One Fan circles if F1 changed to the BBC, and James Allen continued to commentate.

A good question, Mr Elmes, and one I feel needs to be addressed.

In my opinion…

BBC Logo…It has nothing to do with what TV channel F1 is broadcast on. It has nothing to do with adverts or stupid pre and post-race shows. My issue with James Allen is the stupidness of his remarks and comments. Okay, so Murray Walker made more mistakes than all the politicians in all the lands added together. But generally speaking, our Muzza owned up when he made a mistake. Or it was a mistake that we have all made all too often. (Is it a Midland or a McLaren?) Or he generally corrected himself, or accepted being corrected by his co-commentator.

But James? He just ploughs on.

It can’t be easy commentating. I’m sure he has a lot of information to process, and similtaneously, he has to speak in order to engage the audience. But all too often, he lets out a ripper of an error. Be it poor arithmatic (Allen recently suggested that 73 and 20 equalled 103) or poor judgement of a situation. James Allen all-too-often assumes things – like Raikkonen going to Ferrari – but does not explain to the audience (which will invariably contain newbies) that although it is likely to happen, it hasn’t actually been confirmed yet and there are plenty of other options.

Martin Brundle – on the other hand – tends to actually explain things. While he doesn’t get as excited as Muzza, he is the calm, collected character on the team. He knows his stuff as he has done it, and he saves Allen’s bacon on numerous occasions.

And the final thing that really annoys me about Allen? It’s his vain and stupid attempt to copy Murray Walker at the start of the race. “And when the lights go out. The. Race. Will. Be. Giiiiiiiiiii…” Murray did it so much better.

Well, that’s my opinion. What’s yours…


  • You summed it up perfectly. We all have many problems with the ITV coverage, but we also have problems with Allen. Move him to a different channel, and people will still be selling t-shirts wishing he’d go away.

  • I agree with your comments too, well put.

    Tell me, what’s going on with the driver interviews at the end of the races? Maybe it’s just the SKY broadcast here in New Zealand but often lately – just when they start interviewing the winning drivers suddenly they play the soundtrack of Louise in the pits interviewing everyone else! And as luck would have it the volume of Louise’s microphone is louder than inside and so all we get to do is lip-read and watch the body language of the top three while we listen to DNF drivers expressing their woes. It drives me nuts! It must have happened three times in the last 4-5 races.

  • My biggest problem with James Allen is his immense smugness. The perfect example of this was when Kimi Raikkonen’s suspension failed at least year’s European Grand Prix. What was Allen’s brilliant insight into the situation? “See?! I told you so!”

    Get him off our screens.

  • I haven’t experienced that Gary, but then I do tend to switch off after the lead driver has completed the final lap – Mainly because I am frantically typing up posts and what ITV have to offer isn’t worth watching anyway!

    In fact, recently the driver press conference has been cut short. Rarely does the third placed man get a word on UK TV, unlike the days of the BBC where they stayed with the conference until that memorable line, “And now, some questions in your own language…”

  • Forgot to mention that other cringeworthy moment from this year, when Jenson Button had a disastrous pit stop (was it at the San Marino GP? I can’t remember). “Oh no! It’s all gone Pete Tong!” ITV cut that bit of his commentary out of all of their replays of that incident. How are you supposed to take seriously somebody who comes out with that line?

  • i particularly love it when a sunday evening the race overruns and he has to keep the coronation st. audience happy by reminding them ‘this’ll all be over soon, we promise’.

    thing is, who’ll replace him? trying to replace walker is like having to replace john peel. who on earth ever could?

  • No one can ever replace John Peel. Full stop. That is why I believe that no one can ever replace Murray. Full Stop. But they (be it BBC, ITV, Sky…) can find suitable alternatives. Brundle does okay afterall. What they need is someone with energy, passion and enthusiasm and knowledge. And I don’t mean knowledge of the sport. I mean the knowledge to shut the fup up when something needs to be explained by the pro or when they clearly don’t know themselves. I get the impression Allen tries to blag it too many times, and he only does himself and ITV an injustice. (Arguably F1 as well, I s’pose.)

  • My favourite recent James Allen moment was Raikkonen in the pits at Canada and he was held up with a bit of a problem. Allen went: “Oh, Martin, he’s got a problem.” Fair enough. Except the “Oh Martin,” was in such a Pauline Fowler/girly/gay voice that you couldn’t possibly take it seriously. I know there was laughter in our household for pretty much the rest of the race, god knows how Martin managed to keep a straight face, let alone comment on the situation.

    I imagine he is a handful to work with.

  • As a driver? Erm, a bit like Montoya. Never quite got there. Talented for sure, but maybe never made that right decision at that right time.

    As a commentator? Bland and uninteresting. BUT, I feel I need to explain this before people jump on me.

    Brundle is great. The reason why is because I feel I can trust him. He is old(ish – sorry Martin!) and he has had experience. In fact, a fair bit. He also asks the difficult questions at the right time. These moments are worth their weight in gold.

    Blundell just does the crappy bits at the start and end of the show. Maybe if they made Mark do something that was featured more, or differently to what he currently does, I would respect him more. But just giving his opinion at the start and end of the race in a rather dull and uninspired tone – doesn’t do it for me. I thought he did okay when he covered for Brundle when he raced in Le Mans (or whatever), but currently, I feel he is wasted and undertrained – as in, he could be more of a commentator, just as long as I didn’t have to watch his motionless face. Hell, he’s better than Allen at any rate…

  • Brundle is just a true and honest guy. He asks the questions but understands if the drivers don’t want to answer them.

    And he does the explainy technical features, (which to be fair I don’t always understand), and is never patronising about it.

  • Speaking of James’s mistake with simple arithmetic, I’d be very interested to know what Carol Vorderman would make of it…

  • I’ve no opinion on James Allen one way or the other, but your question about BBC coverage is interesting to me because I am both a massive F1 fan (try to visit at least one non-European race per year) and until recently a BBC employee. To this day I’m a big supporter — gernerally — of the BBC.

    So here’s the point: despite being a big fan of the BBC I think it’s right that the ITV has the coverage and not BBC. The BBC would not be able to justify the money needed to not only just buy the rights but also to put on the level of coverage we have grown to expect here in the UK (and those who watch the syndicated feed).

    Bearing in mind the actual race sesions are directed by Bernie’s media company – the “world feed”, good coverage for me is essentially “everything else”. And includes:

    * Top, experienced commentators

    * Top name experts

    * Pre/post coverage actually from the paddock (not London based studio)

    * Good, indepth pre race coverage – both in terms of time and the quality of the features

    Now, the BBC sure had Muzza, but it was light on any other experts. And F1 coverage consisted of Grandstand’s “and now we take you to the F1 race” moment before the parade lap. Very little pre-race coverage from what I remember.

    I just came back from a trip to the States where I had the miss-fortunie to have to watch the F1 on the Speed channel. Despite having fairly big names like Peter Windsor (F1 Racing magazine sub editor and the guy who does the post-race press conferences) commentating, the coverage was appaling. Similar kind of thing – the main commentators (American baseball commentators I belive) knew nothing and there was no pre or post interviews or features. The lack of “Luise Goodman”-types also was very apparent. The presenter got an exlcusive post-crash interview with Scott Speed, but that was about it.

    The presenters were not as clued up as ITV’s — even J Allen.

    I think the BBC’s coverage would be like this — they just can’t justify the expense, in the same way that they can’t justify paying for premiership football.

    I’m pleased coverage is with ITV, and I hope it stays there. I can see Rupert Murdoch potentially doing something interesting with F1 on Sky, but I think taking F1 one off the Free-To-Air channels would be severley detrimental to the sport here in the UK

  • I actually agree with that. I dislike James Allen and obviously I would rather not have the adverts. But you have to admit that overall, ITV’s F1 coverage is very good.

  • I’ve been to America and watched Formula 1 on the Speed Channel, and I have to agree with Ben, the coverage is not all that good. What particularly bugs me about it is how the commentators (one of whom sounds like Peter Alliss) perform at the start of a race. As the lights are coming on they say something like “Enjoy the start of the Grand Prix” very calmly, then don’t speak again until about three seconds after the lights have gone out and the cars are racing. Even in the US Grand Prix they do this. James Allen may irk too at the start of a race, but at least he speaks when the lights go out and his voice is raised in some way. What’s more, I don’t believe that there is a lady in Speed’s presentation team.

  • Hi,. is there any way I can watch the F1 in the USA through ITV? the USA commentary is rubbish and I really need to watch the UK coverage!!


Follow BlogF1