Shadowing and preparing

Barring a change of direction or tactics over the forthcoming weeks, it looks like Channel 4’s new Formula 1 presenter will be someone who is completely new to presenting live sport. As stated previously, this writer understands that the name in the frame is Steve Jones.

Channel 4 will not be releasing any further information about their Formula 1 team until early March. However, by this stage, the new presenter (Jones, or someone else) will know by now that they will be the person travelling to Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix. For anyone in the Channel 4 team who is new to Formula 1, the first time they will walk into the paddock will either be during Barcelona testing or Melbourne itself. The former appears unlikely for anyone in front of the camera (in an official capacity at least) given that an announcement is not expected until early March.

What Channel 4 have to their advantage is that their Australian coverage is not live. Their first live race is round two of the 2016 season in Bahrain. This gives them, and Whisper Films, the opportunity to refine the product, if necessary performing re-takes, so that the perfect product hits the screen, a “dry run”. This all works on the assumption that Channel 4’s highlights coverage is not based in a studio.

Alongside the new presenter will be David Coulthard. With seven years at the BBC, Coulthard is now a veteran broadcaster, and will know what works and what doesn’t, meaning that he should be in a position to make the new presenter feel at ease in the paddock. I’m reminded of when the BBC first started Formula 1 in 2009. We had the fresh faced Jake Humphrey stepping into the limelight as lead presenter of their Formula 1 coverage. Humphrey’s preparation for the Formula 1 role started in Autumn 2008. Following the conclusion of the BBC’s successful Olympic Games coverage from Beijing, Humphrey soon turned his attention to Formula 1.

To get an early indicator of what to expect for 2009, Humphrey, alongside BBC colleagues which included Mark Wilkin, travelled to the 2008 Chinese Grand Prix. Humphrey, met up with Coulthard, as Humphrey briefly watched ITV’s Steve Rider present their live programme from the Shanghai paddock. Rider spoke briefly about Humphrey’s appointment in his book (page 237), Rider saying that he “thought it was an excellent, brave decision, although inevitably many regarded him as just ‘the bloke off kids’ telly’.”

It is interesting to read Humphrey’s perspective on stepping into the Formula 1 paddock for the first time. Humphrey recites this in his book (pages 19-24), and it shows a different angle on life behind the camera for those stepping into the limelight for the very first time. Speaking about his Shanghai adventure, Humphrey said:

My general mood of excitement and impatience suddenly began to give way to a strange feeling of loneliness – it was as if I had been pitched into a party where everyone knew each other except me. I watched the cameramen as they seemed instinctively to know where to wait to get the right photos and video footage of the drivers, while the journalists moved around in a hunting pack, going from team home to team home at set times to get the drivers’ thoughts.

Furthermore, Humphrey described the ITV team of Rider and Mark Blundell as looking “so small, so insignificant and so alone, looking incredibly vulnerable” in the pit lane during the build-up. You almost get the impression that, by going to a Grand Prix beforehand, the expectation increased as a result for Humphrey. But, you can see why it was necessary for him to attend a Grand Prix beforehand. It meant that some of the learning had been completed well in advance of the 2009 season beginning. It meant that some of the key introductions had already been made, and relationships with teams could now be built. Because of the sheer scale of it, Shanghai I can imagine is probably the most daunting paddock to walk into first, something Humphrey admits in his book.

Fast forward to March 2009. Humphrey was again walking into a Formula 1 paddock. This time, he was going live on air to the sound of The Chain. Humphrey described the Melbourne experience as “walking on to a packed platform on the London Underground in rush hour, but in Technicolor.” On March 19th, 2016, another presenter will hear that famous bass riff and the 5-second countdown to go on air in Melbourne.

In essence, Melbourne is Channel 4’s equivalent of “Humphrey’s Shanghai”. Two weeks later, the Channel 4 team will be going live for the first time for Bahrain. For now, the countdown continues…

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16 thoughts on “Shadowing and preparing

  1. Looking at what Channel 4 have said, I am now leaning towards Guy Martin becoming Presenter. This is because they want a team of Celebrities to attract viewers.

    My latest team decision is:
    Presenter: Guy Martin
    Pundits: David Coulthard & Allan McNish
    Technical Analyst: Gary Anderson
    Reporter: Lee McKenzie
    Commentators: DC & Ben Edwards
    Magazine: Jake Humphrey & Davina MaCall.

    The last choice is a weird shout, but a celeb of her calibre is likely to appear. Could also see Eddie Jordan filming a feature or 2 but after DC’s tweet with a F1 car and a Bike, Guy Martin must be involved and he is a crowd favourite, according to Channel 4.

    • I can’t see Guy Martin being the Presenter, He has the Wall of Death record attempt, the Land Speed Record and he’s also doing that 2750 mile unassisted cycle event in the States.
      He only does what he wants to and turns down an awful lot of TV work. Also, if you watch him he never talks to the camera. I can see him doing some one off things for C4’s F1 coverage, driving a car, getting involved with the power units etc but I think that would be it.
      As far as I know he’s only ever worked with North One Television and he comes across as someone who’s only comfortable with those he knows well when it comes to TV.

  2. Google him ANDY, Wikipedia!!! He’s got his work cut out with his background, a hell of a lot to learn unless he’s an ardent F1 fan. It will be interesting to watch his first show, watch this space, as the saying goes. Just glad it’s not Suzi Perry!!!!!

    • I can honestly say I’ve never seen him before, he looks like Jimmy Anderson.
      The only problen I had with Suzi Perry was that she’d always made it clear that she wasn’t interested in F1.

  3. Like your dream team, Caine2013, but I think its ‘dream on’, no chance. A last minute scrape round of whoever is free at the moment. Lee McKenzie n Gary Anderson would have been 2 of my favourites also. I’ve a feeling it could be chaos!

  4. That was my main problem with Suzy Perry, it was pretty obvious she wasn’t really interested in F1, more with her appearance, and annoyingly, trying not to drop her tablet, or fall off her high heels!!!! Googled Jimmy Anderson. WOW, sorry, but he’s well eye candy, if nothing else, flattering Steve Jones a bit. Not been able to find anything on whether Jones is into F1 much at all, that would be interesting. (I Google everything, same as I shred everything, it’s an age thing, you’ll find out eventually!)

  5. now we wait on the C4 press twitter account after the above was said about (hopefully this time whoever says the names get it into the right account this time)

  6. I think if C4 don’t want to go to some of the races and do a studio show, they shouldnt go to China, Russia, Canada, Singapore and Austin. Well, they should at least go to the others.

  7. If they want to do a studio production to keep costs lower (could make a bigger profit), they should attend all live races, along with Monaco (highlights). Then, they can present a studio based show for the other 10 highlights shows.

    e.g.
    Australia – Studio (Highlights)
    Baharain – Attend (Live)
    China – Studio (Highlights)
    Russia – Studio (Highlights)
    Spain – Attend (Live)
    Monaco – Attend (Highlights + Prestigious)
    Canada – Studio (Highlights)
    Azerbaijan – Attend (Live)
    Austria – Studio (Highlights)
    Britain – Attend (Live + Home Race)
    Hungary – Attend (Live)
    Germany – Studio (Highlights)
    Belgium – Attend (Live)
    Italy – Attend (Live)
    Singapore – Studio (Highlights)
    Malaysia – Attend (Live)
    Japan – Studio (Highlights)
    USA – Studio (Highlights)
    Mexico – Attend (Live)
    Brazil – Studio (Highlights)
    Abu Dhabi – Attend (Live + Finale)

    This will keep costs low as little production needs to go into highlights. All that is needed is a check on standings, qualifying report and to hear from the main drivers. 5 minute build-up and 10 minute outro. This leaves chance for the full race, but with adverts (crafty way of a delayed broadcast but called highlights as parts of the race are missing). Also only 3/4 members will have to travel, reporter(s) and commentators.

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