There’s so much more to football than the match itself nowadays, isn’t there? Social media has developed into a crucial companion for watchers of the beautiful game, but often, an average game can be rendered considerably more watchable—or even unwatchable—by the television channel you're watching on.
Ahead of the 2014 World Cup, the BBC have assembled a host of stellar names to headline their coverage of the Brazil showpiece, as they look to provide viewers with a rounded, insightful package.
And the big names are not just confined to the commentary box and the studio, with the BBC already announcing that they’ve been granted permission by Stevie Wonder to use his song “Another Star” as part of the opening sequence, per BBC Sport.
But it’s the analysis, the calling of the games and the chemistry between these personalities that ultimately makes the coverage excruciating or enthralling. So let’s run the rule over the cast assembled by the BBC ahead of the tournament and what you should expect from their World Cup package.
All information courtesy of BBC.
The BBC boast a commentary team bristling with experience as the familiar tones of Guy Mowbray, Steve Wilson, Jonathan Pearce, Simon Brotherton and Steve Bower are set to spearhead their team.
The legendary voice of John Motson will not be heard during games this summer, however, as he won't be at a major international tournament for the first time since the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Motson insisted he has no regrets about missing the tournament, aside from the obvious, anyway, per Mike Walters of The Mirror:
I stood down from live commentary after Euro 2008, and it was the right time to go. I have no regrets about that call. If I'm sad about anything, it's that I will never commentate on an England manager who wins the World Cup.
As for co-commentators, the BBC seem to have covered all the bases too, with a mixture of veterans and recently retired players set to offer their insight. Former England internationals Phil Neville, Danny Murphy and Martin Keown will lend their views during games, along with Mark Lawrenson, Kevin Kilbane and Robbie Savage.
Former England international striker Gary Lineker will anchor the BBC’s coverage from their Rio de Janeiro studio. Lineker has long been the main presenter when it comes to these major tournaments and his likeable aura makes him the natural choice. He knows what questions to ask at the appropriate time, and he remains the biggest asset to the BBC’s football set-up.
Lineker has already been speaking to some legends prior to the BBC’s first game, which will see them cover Spain vs. Netherlands on Friday, 13 June:
Gabby Logan will be covering the England team, bringing viewers the latest from their base in Rio and then on the move as the Three Lions face Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in their three group-stage games.
Aside from the coverage of the games itself, Dan Walker and Mark Chapman will head up a host of support shows, including ten episodes of Football Focus that’ll be available via the interactive option and hosted by Walker.
Former England captain Rio Ferdinand and World Cup winner Thierry Henry will offer their opinions on all the action as the BBC have gone all out to assemble a cast of high-profile pundits. Joining them in the studio will be guest pundits Clarence Seedorf and Neil Lennon.
The BBC confirmed the acquisition of Ferdinand and Henry last month, as noted here by the Mail Online:
The dynamic between the two former rivals will certainly be intriguing, and the insight provided will be surely be fascinating, especially from two players that have played the modern game very recently at the very highest level.
Former Arsenal man Henry actually did some punditry work for Sky Sports back in December, and his eloquent display left him in demand, as noted here by the Mail Online (h/t Messi Minutes):
Henry is being chased by TV companies as a pundit. Rightly so, his Napoli analysis was brilliant (and very eloquent)! http://t.co/nUaqWvNcx7— Messi Minutes (@MessiMinutes) December 13, 2013
Joining the aforementioned foursome will be familiar faces to BBC viewers. Former internationals Alan Shearer, Savage, Mills and Neville will take turns in the studio, while Alan Hansen will take part part in his final punditry role before he retires from the business.