Vernon Kay will present live coverage of the upcoming Formula E season for Channel 5, the broadcaster has confirmed.
Press details for the upcoming Hong Kong E-Prix also note that the broadcaster will be on-site for season four, as suggested last month. Kay has previous for hosting sport, having hosted American football for Channel 4 previously. He is probably most famous for presenting the likes of All Star Family Fortunes and Splash! for ITV in recent years.
Channel 5 says that Kay will present “all the action live from the paddock as round one and two of the 2017/18 Formula E Championship spark into life at the HKT Hong Kong E-Prix on December 2-3 around the Victoria Harbour front.” It marks a significant shift for the broadcaster from the low-budget studio that was used during their first season covering the sport.
In the official press release, Kay says “Formula E remains an incredible spectacle within the world of motorsport. I can’t wait to get track-side and present all the electric action, right from the heart of these amazing cities.” The announcement means that Andy Jaye no longer appears to be involved in Channel 5’s output, having hosted coverage last year.
The remainder of the punditry line-up is unknown as of writing. Also unconfirmed is the schedule for Hong Kong. Provisional schedules for Hong Kong suggest that Channel 5 will be airing both races on tape-delay from 09:00 to 10:45 on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd December respectively. The press release from Formula E also states that Channel 5 will broadcast live coverage from selected races, which cannot be seen as good news and a downgrade on previous years.
Initial reaction to Kay’s involvement is mixed, and very much reminiscent of the reaction when Melanie Sykes became BT Sport’s MotoGP presenter and when Steve Jones became Channel 4’s F1 presenter. The outcome was different for both: Sykes’ gig lasted three months, whilst Jones is coming to the end of his second season as Formula 1 presenter, a role he has settled into very well.
Whilst Kay does come from a similar background to Sykes, he has the advantage of having presented sport before. I suspect that, even though the Formula E race is live, the build-up segments might be pre-recorded in advance, allowing a certain degree of preparation beforehand for Kay and his co-presenters to prepare their lines. The post-race part is always the trickier element to master and requires a significant amount of research in advance. Kay is enough of a veteran for me to feel that he will be just fine in the role.
The important thing which we should not forget is that, for the first time, a UK broadcaster will be on-site at every round, which is a massive step in the right direction if the series is to grow and flourish in this country. I suspect North One Television, who are producing Formula E content from this season onwards alongside Aurora, have helped put Channel 5’s package together.
Updated on November 15th.