Some thoughts on Sky’s F1 coverage
Sky’s F1 presenters. Is it me, or are their voices starting to get a bit croaky?
Martin Brundle has sounded decidedly hoarse while commentating on various Grands Prix this year. Then, during last weekend’s German Grand Prix, lead presenter Simon Lazenby sounded like he had a toad, snake and lizard in this throat – along with the obvious frog.
They don’t normally sound like that, do they?
I'm sure Martin wasn’t as croaky when he was at ITV or the Beeb. Maybe the years of commentating have caught up with him. Or maybe laryngitis is to blame. Sky’s dodgy microphones?
Whatever it is, it doesn’t sound great.
Croakiness aside, the technical insight Martin provides in his commentary is as brilliant as ever. Still, I can’t help but feel that he and ‘Crofty’ don’t make a great commentating pair; for much of the time they sound more like a couple of middle-aged blokes chatting casually while a motor race is going on in the background. They also have an annoying habit of making statements which are actually questions (you can't move for the "isn't its?" and "aren't theys?" that fly about in that commentary box!) That and Crofty’s overuse of the word “squirrely” really begins to grate.
Martin used to sound much more fired-up alongside his previous sidekicks - be it the great Murray Walker, James Allen, David Coulthard or even Jonathan Leggard (although in the latter case, it was usually just irritation on Martin’s part over his co-commentator).
One thing's for sure - I miss the fire and occasional hard-edge that Martin’s commentary used to have. I hope it comes back. Crofty’s commentary style seems more apt for the pipe and slippers brigade.
As for the rest of the Sky team, it’s a very mixed bag.
Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert are true assets and make some worthwhile contributions. They’re articulate to boot, which is always a bonus for a presenter.
Less so, pint sized Anthony ‘Ant’ Davidson whose best tricks seem to be trite observations at inopportune times and flicking about with that humongous touchscreen TV that Sky love to install in the paddock. If ever there were an illustration of technology for technology’s sake – that’s it.
[The following paragraph has been edited since the original posting. On reflection, I was overly harsh on Ted who, for the most part, does a great job in a very challenging working environment. I think my ‘thing’ with Ted is that when he needs to think on his feet, his articulateness goes out of the window. And that’s not great in a pit lane reporter. My comments concerning Allan ahem McNish stand in their original form.]
Ted Kravitz is still doing his ‘bumbling older brother’ routine which is interesting – if only for comedic effect. Say what you like about Ted, he’s still infinitely better than the Beeb’s Allan McNish who seems about as talented at sports punditry as he was driving that damned Toyota in 2002.
For what it’s worth, I’d love to see Martin team back up with James Allen in the commentary box. I really can’t believe I’m saying this, given my early thoughts on their being paired, but they made a great duo.
The reason I've started sampling Sky's coverage of F1 is simply because I’ve got to the point where I can’t tolerate the Beeb’s ‘highlights’ packages any longer (blink and the programme’s over). It’s strange – when the BBC bid for the F1 broadcast rights in 2008 and won them back from ITV, the deal was that they’d show everything. Live.
Still, the Beeb wouldn’t be the Beeb if they didn’t shaft the licence-paying public every now and then, would they?
It’s going to take me a long time to forgive and forget that one.