The BBC Blow Me Away From As Far As Brazil

The BBC Blow Me Away From As Far As Brazil

I think it is fair to say that in their first season since returning to broadcast Formula One to British fans, the BBC have done a pretty good job. There are few gripes which I know many are happy to vocalise at any given opportunity, but I speak for myself when I say that these are generally few and far between. When ITV presented the show, they had perhaps one very good and one less-so good commentator, they had a pretty good build-up show and produced some interesting pieces on the nuances of the sport. From where I’m sitting, the BBC are in a very similar situation with the exception of two major things.

The first and most obvious is the lack of adverts on the BBC. Being funded by those who watch, the BBC channels do not require advertising money to produce their content and so we, the humble viewer watching from the comfort of our sofas can enjoy uninterrupted coverage. I really do not think any more needs to be said on this other than a huge hurray.

The second major point only came to my attention this evening as I watched the qualifying session for the Brazilian Grand Prix. The session was wet and suffered numerous delays, leading to much filling in by the host Jake Humphrey and his two companions, David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan. While Eddie Jordan annoys me sometimes, the banter generated is usually acceptable and in cases such as this evening, it was necessary to break up the commentary between the box and the paddock.

However, with the over-run came the inevitable dread of seeing qualifying be forced off-air due to not wanting to interrupt other scheduled programming. And to cap it all off, this is Saturday at 8pm – I believe it is called primetime in the business. The show due to follow the Formula One coverage was the ever popular (although I have no interest in it myself) Strictly Come Dancing, a show in which celebrity contestants essentially commit to a dance-off, I am led to believe. But with Bruce Forsyth at the helm, you can understand that the show does not want to be dropped; the outcry from Brucey’s fans would probably outweigh the British Formula One fans, unfortunately.

So, with the programming having already been delayed – well done BBC for pushing the limit a little – it came down to the crunch: should the Formula One coverage only continue online, or should Strictly be rescheduled for Sunday evening or similar?

Well, I was blown away. I saw something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, certainly not from ITV. The BBC switched the live coverage from BBC1 to BBC2. I have no idea what was on BBC2 that got dropped as I watch online and therefore didn’t have any problems whatsoever, but the decision to switch the channels meant that viewers up and down the country who watch via their TVs didn’t suffer. And of course, Mr Forsyth was allowed to dance to his heart’s content on BBC1.

I do remember that often ITV would show qualifying on one of their secondary channels, and this was also at a time when they weren’t readily available as the UK was still mostly analogue. With the digital conversion, ITV2 et al are better available now, but even then, they are still not considered to be in the same league as BBC2 as the Beebs main two channels are both terrestrial (as in, they were always available to everyone pre-digital as well).

So I just wanted to thank the BBC for their commitment to Formula One, and for putting on a good show this season. Even though we still have two races to run, I think the team at Auntie Beeb have done a sterling job and today’s difficulties only further highlight this.

Image © Getty Images.


  • I thought it was great that the F1 live coverage got switched. The effect on programming on BBC2 was:

    The first episode of “Life” (a wildlife show narrated by David Attenborough) was postponed.

    Gandhi started 15 minutes late and a five-minute additional delay that developed around Have I Got More News For You means that the planned stuff listed in the Radio Times for BBC 2 will finish 20 minutes later than scheduled. In other words, Inside F1 (the last programme listed in BBC Two) will be 3:50am-4:05am.

    For some reason, nothing is listed between then and 6am, so there appears to be some slack to take this unexpected additional programming…

    Unfortunately they didn’t put the BBC2 segment on the internet. This meant that people like me (who couldn’t watch the qualifying due to swimming club being in the way) never got to see what happened on-track after Liuzzi’s crash 🙁

    Still, that’s a relatively small problem compared to the vast increase in quality that is the BBC’s overall effort and achievement. The channel clearly cares about F1, which is great to see and shows in just about every aspect of its coverage.

  • Unfortunately they didn’t put the BBC2 segment on the internet.

    I noticed that too. It currently says Unavailable on the iPlayer site, which is quite annoying. But then, I imagine the post-live viewing of it will seem a little odd, the programme just starting in the middle.

    I’m surprised they didn’t stitch it all together for the BBC1 listing (which is what I presumed they would do).

  • Me and my dad like the pre-race stuff they do, but some of the rubbish they talk about is useless. I don’t like Eddie Jordan. His team was useless. I remember my brother asking me to remind my Year 2 teacher about one race weekend because THEY WERE THAT RUBBISH THAT A SEVEN YEAR-OLD COULD MAKE FUN OF THEM!!! I don’t like Jake Humphrey either. Considering he was a CBBC presenter, BBC’s choice was childish (My pathetic attempt at a joke). I’ll give David Coulthard the benfit of the doubt (Whatever that means) considering he knows what it’s like to be an F1 driver and how tough it is. Jake Humphrey knows jack all!

  • Here in America we don’t get the BBC and our races are shown on the Speed Channel. For those who don’t get the coverage I feel it is pretty good.

    Bob Varsha is the host and does a good job. His sidekicks are David Hobbs and Steve Machett. Hobbs is excellent and has an appealing style to his race description. Machett is a techincal guru and as a former F1 mechanic who uses his knowledge and ways to communicate to really add to the broadcast. They are charming ,fair and willing to tell the story the way it is happening.

    The three of them cover the race from their studio base in Charlotte and use live race commentary from the exellent Peter Windsor who is now off to run USF1. He is top notch and will be sorely missed once this season is over.

    I thank all four of them for how they choose to cover F1 here in America.

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