Whisper Films are to produce Channel 4’s coverage of Formula 1, it has been confirmed.
The indie, founded by Jake Humphrey, David Coulthard and Sunil Patel in 2010, will produce their coverage through to the end of their contract in 2018. The company won a closed tender process that, according to Broadcast, was against North One Television. However, North One will produce supplementary programme for Channel 4’s coverage. As part of the announcement, Coulthard is the first name to be announced as part of Channel 4’s team.
To give a comparison between the two organisations. North One Television was set up in 1990 under the Chrysalis name, most notably producing ITV’s Formula 1 coverage from 1997 to 2008. More recently, they have been responsible for BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage from 2014 onwards. North One would have brought with them a massive amount of experience having covered Formula 1 for twelve years.
However, ‘experience’ can be found in many different lights. Although Whisper Films was founded twenty years after North One Television, the likes of Humphrey, Coulthard and Patel have recent experience of making Formula 1 television and are in a prime position to know what makes audiences click. In the background, Whisper have been grabbing staff from both BBC’s and Sky’s Formula 1 portfolio including producer Andrew Willis, who originally was part of Sky’s team.
Today’s announcement confirms that Whisper have also grabbed the former BBC F1 programme editor Mark Wilkin. Whisper have also been producing films for Formula 1 teams such as the Red Bull Racing Story, covering the story of the team from inception to the end of 2012. The reaction from those in industry outside of the immediate circles and Formula 1 fans could not be more different. Whilst fans will be happy with the news today, the commenters on Broadcast have a different opinion, one saying the deal is in “no way dodgy.”
Ed Havard, Channel 4’s Head of TV Events and Sport said: “Whisper Films outlined an extremely impressive and exciting vision for their F1 coverage, with outstanding on and off screen talent as an integral part of their pitch. We are delighted that David Coulthard will be at the heart of Channel 4’s coverage and look forward to announcing the full presenting team in the coming weeks.”
Sunil Patel, Executive Producer for Whisper Films said: “Whisper Films has an unrivalled production team with over 20 years’ experience in Formula One and unique contacts throughout the sport. Channel 4 and the sport have talked about a new approach and we believe we are ideally placed to deliver this.”
David Coulthard said: “This is an exciting time for the sport and an exciting time for Whisper Films. The F1 World has been incredibly impressed with what Whisper has delivered over the last five years and Channel 4’s decision is testament to that. I’m looking forward to being part of an exciting new era for Formula One, with Whisper Films and our proven level of creativity and innovation very much at the heart of that.”