I know Channel 4 will be distraught that I’m not giving them the thumbs up but heck I’ll write the blog post anyway. Channel 4 have taken over the rights for the World Athletics Championships in both 2011 and 2013. It is a bold move by Channel 4 and might give an insight into these constant swirling stories that the channel are interested in Formula 1. So last week they announced who they had signed-up and apart from one or two good moves – the rest are distinctly meh.
The front man will be former CBBC and The Gadget Show presenter Ortis Deley. I know over on the BBC Jake Humphrey was given the prime job of fronting the F1 coverage having come from a Children’s TV background but his track record had been in live television – Deley’s has not been. It just isn’t grabbing me. Obviously they couldn’t bring in Sue Barker but Ortis seems uninspired. When Channel 4 brought in the cricket they went with Mark Nicholas who was an inspired choice and their commentary and pundit team was first rate. Maybe I should move on to the good moves.
They begin (and nearly end with) Michael Johnson. Johnson is a freelancer and will work with the channel for this event but will return to the BBC for athletics events at London 2012. Johnson is the supreme pundit out there so bringing him in seems like a slam-dunk move. I also like Katherine Merry. Think she’s an excellent pundit. Iwan Thomas and Dean Macey less so. However this might not be ideal but then we get to another disappointment.
The BBC have a first-rate commentary team on athletics. Jonathan Edwards, Steve Cram, Brendan Foster, Paul Dickenson, etc… but none of them hve been loaned out to Channel 4 for the Athletics and they have instead gone with John Rawling and Rob Walker. Rawling is a safe pair of hands but that is about it. Best known for being ITV’s voice of boxing when it was involved in the sport in the last decade and is now involved with Sky’s boxing coverage. Walker is best known for announcing the snooker players into the arena at major BBC snooker events. He does have a background in commentating on IAAF events (I’m presuming for a world feed) but it’s not the voices you’d expect to hear. I have no idea if they channel approached the BBC about their commentary team and a loan agreement but if they didn’t then I’d be disappointed.
The trackside reporting will be Sonja McLaughlan who has performed that role on radio for several years.
All in all I’m not inspired by these choices but heck who gives a damn what I think. I do think that Ortis might be in a trial run for the F1 job should the channel take those rights as Jake Humphrey is not leaving the BBC with Olympics and World Cup opportunities ahead of him at the Beeb.
Edit August 31: Ortis Deley has been removed by Channel 4 as lead presenter. Read the full story behind this link
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