BBC F1 Commentary: Out With the Old, In With the Slightly Less Old

Duncan ScottAnalyst IMarch 30, 2011

Jonathon Legard
Jonathon Legard

Providing a TV commentary on any sport must be extremely difficult, because it is so rarely done well.

Football (soccer) commentators are an infuriating breed who seem compelled to constantly dredge up obscure and totally irrelevant statistics about the players and venue, along the lines of, "He is the first Hartlepool defender to score in a second half at Wembly since Nobby Grimes in 1938."

We F1 fans in the UK, and the many countries that follow the UK F1 feed, have been cursed with some legendary oafs as commentators over the years.

For many years we suffered the excited ramblings of Murray Walker, accompanied for a brief period by the peerless James Hunt, and in his later years by the informed Martin Brundle.

After Walker's long-overdue retirement, ITV inflicted James Allen on F1 fans, but the less said about him, the better.

When ITV gave up their F1 rights—oh happy day—and the BBC took over, they wisely and expensively chose to offer Brundle a job, but for reasons beyond the comprehension of this writer, they accompanied him with one of their house hacks named Jonathon Legard.

For two F1 seasons, 2009 and 2010, Legard stumbled and bumbled. At each and every F1 event he radiated the impression that he had never seen a race before, and found it all jolly exciting but very mysterious.

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His questions of Brundle were often so dumb they were just ignored, and he offered no insights at all for the reasonably informed viewer.

But for 2011, the BBC had the good sense to remove Legard from their F1 team, and have replaced him as Brundle's co-commentator with David Coulthard.

I have found this to be a most welcome change.

It is actually a very long time since Brundle drove in F1, sixteen years in fact, and the expert driver view he enjoys projecting can sometimes wear a little thin.

During their joint commentary on the Melbourne race, Coulthard was entirely willing to correct his colleague with more up-to-date knowledge of F1.

I liked that a lot.

Do you agree? Please cast your vote in my totally unscientific poll.