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Formula 1 Back on the BBC – Murray Walker Also!

February 27, 2009

bbcsportlogo After the BBC obtained the rights to Formula 1 TV coverage in the UK last year there has been much speculation as to whether Murray Walker will return to commentate and who, if any, of the ITV F1 team will keep their roles at the BBC.

Earlier in the week the BBC made an announcement regarding who is doing what and the various coverage the BBC will be providing when the season starts next month on the 27th of March.

It looks like the BBC want to trump the excellent coverage ITV introduced when they obtained the rights, by showing all track sessions on TV via the Red Button interactive service, online and radio, backed up by iPlayer should you miss anything. There is mention of split-screen action, live leaderboard, in-car camera and choice of commentary, also to be offered via the Red button.

After the races there will be a one hour ‘interactive’ analysis programme, The interactive element probably being viewer participation in the form of a phone in or question/answer session and competition.

Who will host the new BBC coverage? Remember childrens’ TV presenter Jake Humphrey who now does some of the sports coverage? He will take over, accompanied by David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan, who replace the ITV staff of Mark Blundell and Steve Rider. Martin Brundle stays on and is joined by Jonathan Legard to commentate during the races. Ted Kravitz, no relation to Lenny, remains to provide reports from the pit. Louise Goodman is replaced by Lee McKenzie who used to report on A1 GP.

With Coulthard and Jordan (Eddie) in the studio and Martin Brundle commentating, the BBC has ensured there is a wealth of Formula 1 experience to draw on which will be good for providing insight into the events of the day. Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie, having served their time in pit lanes and rally cars, should be well placed to continue what ITV had evolved. Will James Allen be missed by F1 fans? In the style of James Allen himself: YES YES YESSS!!! Or ‘maybe’ is probably more appropriate.

What of the online coverage? Will greater bandwidth available to many be used to stream the race in adequate quality? ITV introduced a live online feed for Formula 1 sessions and now BBC has iPlayer which also shows live TV. The BBC says there will be multiple feeds to match what is available via the red button, so whether you are at a computer or TV you have access to the same options which extends to the choice of commentary also. In addition to this will be a high quality stream which will be of “near-televisual” quality.

The website will have a number of features such as, wait for it… MURRAY WALKER! OK, Murray Walker will not be feature himself but he will be doing a race review video after each race and also be part of a Q & A feature. Other features include: interactive circuit guides with commentated laps and telemetry, embedded video footage, images and data; driver and team guides with biographies and Q&As; F1 news; presenter and commentator blogs. Martin Brundle and Mark Webber, of Red Bull Racing will be providing video and written columns on the site.

It looks like this season will be great in terms of accessibility and coverage but will it be the same on track? We’ll have to wait for the start of the first on-track session on March 27. Check out the full F1 coverage schedule for the BBC here.

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