ITV want more respect?

According to Guardian Unlimited, ITV are trying to get Steve Rider to present its Formula 1 coverage.

I actually suggested last week to my brother that ITV were trying to shift Jim Rosenthal away from F1, because Rosenthal has been presenting both boxing and football recently, and Angus Scott took his place in Belgium.

Could it be part of a bigger shake-up of ITV’s F1 coverage? I personally think ITV do a pretty good job with it, although I would obviously prefer there not to be any commercial breaks. Jim Rosenthal knew nothing about Formula 1 when he anchored ITV’s coverage from the off in 1997, and he’s got a bit of stick from some fans because of it. But I reckon Rosenthal has quite a bit of knowledge now, and his style is a lot more conversational than it used to be.

Remember also the rumours that James Allen is going to be replaced after Japan. Allen gets the goat of a lot of F1 fans, including me. Mind you, I have to admit he doesn’t seem as bad recently as he often has in the past. It seems like he’s taking criticism into account.

There’s been a significant shift in the time slots dedicated to coverage aswell. ITV don’t want to put North and South American qualifying sessions on ITV1 because it’s Saturday prime time. In the past they would have just recorded it and shown it at midnight or something. They’re still doing that, but today I was able to watch the Brazilian qualifying session live on ITV2. Last year I wouldn’t have been able to do that. Hell, ITV once even took the actual race off ITV1 completely, and showed it on ITV2 instead. That was years ago when most people didn’t have ITV2, including me.

When you consider everything, ITV are treating Formula 1 with a lot more respect these days than they used to, even when the sport itself probably deserves less respect than ever at the moment. If it really is all part of a shake-up in ITV to try and gain more respect from F1 fans, it’s quite an interesting development. It’s good that at last they seem to be taking criticism on board.


  1. I have to say that I found it much easier to watch when Angus Scott was presenting it in Belgium because Jim Rosenthal’s manner just grates on me a little – he’s always making everything out to be the most dramatic thing ever, when it usually isn’t. Rider was quite good when he presented it for the BBC all those years ago, but I think ITV are a bit too enthralled by supposedly star names when Angus Scott or Matt Smith could probably do the job just as well, and a lot cheaper.

  2. I think Matt Smith woud do a good job.

    I do think they should replace James Allen. I’ve got a madcap idea to replace Allen with Jonathan Pearce. No idea if he knows anything about F1 but he might inject some enthusiasm, robot wars style. Pearce and Brundle, with Allen back in the pits?

  3. What’s wrong with Steve Rider presenting Formula 1? I think he would be very good considering that he’s presented motor racing on the BBC and that, from what I’ve heard, he’s a motor racing fan. I saw Angus Scott presenting last year’s Belgian Grand Prix and I quickly concluded that neither he nor any of the other presenters from ITV’s football coverage would be good, so there’s more justification for Steve making a worthy replacement for Jim Rosenthal. And as for James Allen? Well, he can never possibly be as good a commentator as Murray was, but I don’t see why he should be slagged off just because he has different traits. Besides, it should be said that when Murray retired and James was chosen to replace him, he was in at the deep end.

  4. Another thing. There are commentators out there who, I think, are worse than James is. Take Eurosport, for instance. It appears to use the same commentators for every sport it shows, and besides football, these commentators seem to know no more than the bare basics of these sports. Indeed, they’re no John Motson on football, John Virgo on snooker, or Tony Green on darts. And because they do appear to commentate on every sport, they’re irritating too. I admit that James can irk a bit sometimes, but he’s a much better commentator.
    But there’s more. Some of the commentators in the Republic of Ireland aren’t very good. Of course there is legendary Gaelic Games commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh, who is always a joy to listen to if you do live in Ireland, but the commentators on the country’s third TV station are bad. They are benign and seem to know little more than the basic commentary skills (and James does know more). But there is one commentator who can be truly irritating. Cautiously I won’t name him or the sports he commentates on, but what would one think of a commentator who gets unnecessarily over-excited (something Jonathan Pearce doesn’t do), can sometimes mix up sporting terms, and more often than not invent drama where there isn’t really any? He was good when he started out, but he has slid quite a bit since. If there are any Irish people reading this I do apologise if I am being nasty, but what I am trying to say is that James Allen is better than some commentators and that perhaps these commentators deserve more slagging than he does.
    One last thing. Might not Beverley Turner get slagged for presenting Formula 1 when all along she hated the sport? She only stuck it out as long as she did because she was trying as best as she could to like it.

  5. Well, ITV haven’t got rid of James. For those disappointed people who wanted him to go, it’s just too bad you’re going to have to stick with him for another season. And for those who weren’t too sure about Steve Rider presenting, why shouldn’t you be sure? Already, even though we’ve only had the qualifying session for the Bahrain Grand Prix at time of going to press, he seems to be settling in quite well and presenting Formula 1 in very much the same wonderfully authoritative way he presented Grandstand. As I said before, it helps that he’s a motor racing fan. Angus Scott indeed…at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix he was just as shambolic as the ITV football coverage he usually presents. But Steve has the knowledge, has the experience and has the popularity, and so the very best of luck to him. Don’t forget that he’s another acclaimed BBC figure to have moved across to ITV, after ones such as Murray Walker and Des Lynam.

  6. Ive just watched the Bahrain Grand Prix and I actually missed Jim Rosenthal presenting it.

  7. Yes, this is my fourth comment, but one notices that ITV are using Moby’s “Lift Me Up” as the theme tune. No theme tune of any sort used for Formula 1 can ever be a patch on Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”, but “Lift Me Up” is still a great song, and it fits in very well with the unusual yet striking opening sequence.

  8. I can’t stand any of the F1 comentators or presenters, let’s get Damon and Eddie perhaps, and Niki lauda’s good for a laugh too!

    I like the New Moby theme but I hate the part of the song the have extracted for the ad breaks, it souns like funeral music!

    I am glad that we can get every coverage live, as with Malaysia, I watch qualifying in bed on ITV3- I was well happy! I like the new qualifying and am glad there are not too many adverts in with that.

    I remember at Monaco in 2004, I was there and no car went out during the ad break. I enjoyed F1 Digital + channel, follow which car you want and have good comentators and no ads, shame it went bust!

    I’m sick of F1 on ITV, they don’t have adverts in the middle of a footie match do they?! I wonder if eventually they will stick it on another ITV channel, as most people at least have freeview now. We’ll have to wait and see.

    But ITV is getting better, like the team radios, but F1 Digital + had that years ago! They can have which presenters they want who I don’t know, it’s the drivers that matter to me and a lack of ads would be nice!!!

  9. James Allen is a great commentator, he knows a hell of a lot about the sport and I would be happy if he was around for the same amount of time as Murry was. He was thrown in at the deep end and had some big big shoes to fill. I love his style and the way that he and Martin work together. There work is a joy to listen to.

  10. As Steve continues to do a great job presenting Formula 1, I just want to say that I have seen Angus Scott presenting coverage of the British Superbikes and, to me anyway, he’s doing no better at it than he did presenting last year’s Belgian Grand Prix. It’s no wonder that, except for the excellent as well as beautiful Gabby Logan, ITV’s football coverage is a shambles.
    Also, it hasn’t been the easiest task for Gary Lineker replacing Steve as presenter of the BBC’s golf coverage, but he actually isn’t doing too bad at it. It helps that golf is his second sport after football.

  11. To duncan- james is a reporter- blundel and brundle are the commentators- no offence to james, he’s the only one there that makes sense, with Martin being so biased all the time!

  12. Martin Brundle’s commentary has always been outstanding, due mainly to the fact that he used to be a driver, the same with Mark Blundell. James Allen however, makes no sense for most of his commentary and his know-it-all attitude is irritating at best. I would be happy to see James replaced, sooner rather than later, with Mark Blundell, Damon, Eddie or Allan McNish. I tolerated Murray Walker’s blunders because he was so passionate about the sport but was hoping he would be replaced by somebody better, not worse!

  13. What interests me is that James has been commentating on Formula 1 full-time for four years and he is still getting a lot of criticism, while Des Lynam has been presenting Countdown for six months and he doesn’t seem to be getting too much criticism. Of course, both James and Des had some very big shoes to fill and neither could ever be as good as Murray or the late, great Richard Whiteley, but how come most people seem to have settled down to Des but there is a considerable number of people who still haven’t settled down to James?

  14. I just fired up my computer and connected to the web specifically to see if Google would tell me where the hell Jim Rosenthal has gone. The bloke anchoring the US race (is he called Angus?) looks like a schoolboy who forgot to prepare. But at least he’s better than Steve Rider. Could Rider be any smarmier? I always get the feeling that he’s trying to sell me something. Stop telling me how incredible the occasion is and just show it to me. Having some smarmy twat tell me how much I should be enjoying what I’m seeing is just annoying.

    God it’s good to vent isn’t it? 🙂

  15. James, Jim Rosenthal stopped presenting Formula 1 after deciding to concentrate on presenting ITV’s football and boxing coverage.

  16. Post German GP, I am FED UP with ITV’s F1 coverage :-(. The adverts ruin the flow of the race. Can you imagine football fans having to put up with this crap? There would be riots! James Allen is getting on my nuts:

    1) “Michael Schumacher has won 89 Grand PREEEEEZ.” This is “Delboy French”. “Grand Prix” is pronounced the same regardless of it being singular or plural! Murray always got these basic things correct, and he’s an old-timer!

    2) “The McLaren team made some progress during their test at JEREZZZZZ”. “Delboy Spanish”, anyone? Jerez is pronounced “Hair-eth” …. not Jerezz.

    3) There was one race a few years ago where he started his infamous “GOOOOOOOOO” five seconds after the start :-/

    The ITV-F1 show might as well be renamed “The Jenson Button Show”. The Button-bias is blatant. They cut Kimi Raikkonen’s podium press conference for Jenson’s interview. He finished an incredible FOURTH 😐 Never mind Ferrari’s incredible victory or Kimi’s fine fight up to 3rd place …. let’s talk to Mr Fourth Place!

    Can I watch F1 in the UK WITHOUT listening to the “Button Grand Preez” Brigade? 🙁

  17. David, I’m not sure what other channels in the UK provide Formula 1 coverage but if Eurosport does it I wouldn’t recommend it. Their coverage of just about every sport they show is below par, even football. By the way, another James Allen incident that got on many people’s nerves was the mistake he made with simple arithmetic a few races ago, when he said that 70 and 23 make 103. (Imagine if it was a numbers game on Countdown…)

  18. On the other hand, I don’t think James should be savaged for yelling out “JENSON BUTTON HAS WON THE HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX!!!” It was an emotional moment for him as well as for Jenson and his fans. Murray or any other commentator would have pretty much done the same.

  19. To be fair to James Allen, Murray Walker left an indelible mark on F1 commentary and it is a tough act to follow. However, I feel that he does not get excited enough and make a race even more fascinating to watch.

    However, if we get rid of Allen who should we put in his place. I suggest ITV do a “Commentator Idol” where wannabe commentators are given a clip and are told to commentate for a period of time and are then assessed by a panel including Murray Walker and the ITV F1 team.

  20. I seem to remember ITV doing a competition like that for young budding commentators several years ago. I wonder what became of the winner of that!

  21. I would consider Ben Edwards to be the most suitable replacement for James, as he is quite good at commentating on the British Touring Car Championship. However, it is hard to see anyone commentating on F1 being anywhere near as brilliant as Murray was.

  22. It’s now been one year since this post first appeared. When it did, the knives looked to be out for James. It doesn’t seem to be that way now, as unlike last year there doesn’t appear to be any rumours of him being replaced at the end of this season.

  23. The end of the 2006 season, the end of Steve Rider’s first year as ITV presenter – and you can’t say he’s been awful. Having the experience of presenting Formula 1 when it was on the BBC was always going to be a plus for him. And he appears to be coping very well at ITV – he has, of course, been presenting their football coverage, which he is also very good at. Let’s hope he keeps up the good work.

  24. We’ve had five full seasons of James Allen now, since the great Murray retired after the 2001 US GP, and I’m still not sure about him. He’s clearly passionate about the sport, and you can’t criticise him for that, but sometimes he goes a bit over the top and overemphasises minor issues. I would say it’s probably the case that if after a GP has taken place you can’t remember anything he’s said, it’s not a bad thing. I don’t mean this in a bad way, it just means he probably hasn’t said anything annoying. We shouldn’t criticise him for being different to Murray, no-one could be like him.

    As for Steve Rider, I thought he did a decent job, but then he is a seasoned pro. Mind you, I also liked Jim Rosenthal, particularly in his later years in F1, since he didn’t take any rubbish from the senior people he was interviewing (Bernie, etc.)

    Brundle knows his stuff but is a bit too pro-Schumacher at times (possibly trying to big up his own achievements as a team-mate to MS at Benetton in 1992?). Mark Blundell is OK but his use of colloquial English is a bit strange at times.