Choosing Channel 4’s signature Formula 1 theme tune

Readers will associate BBC’s Formula 1 coverage with Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain. Dum, dum dum dum dum…. more recently, Sky’s coverage of Formula 1 can be associated with Alistair Griffin’s song entitled Just Drive. ITV went through various iterations from Jamiroquai to Lift Me Up by Moby. But what will Channel 4 choose, if anything, as their signature Formula 1 theme?

Now, I will be honest and say that my music tastes are not varied, so any suggestions will be left that to you guys in the comments section below. But, it is worth a look back at Channel 4’s past theme tunes for some inspiration as to where the channel and Whisper Films may head.

If we are talking Channel 4, sport and theme tunes then the above video is a fantastic place to start. Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of…) by Lou Bega was Channel 4’s cricket theme throughout their duration of their coverage from 1999 to 2005. Want to know how popular that song was when it aired during their coverage? It went straight to number one! You cannot get a better plaudit than that off the people watching your coverage, that they feel connected to the product that they are tuning in for.

Channel 4’s racing theme has undergone many iterations. The above version helps encapsulate the grand nature of horse racing with footage of both the horse racing and the celebrities that turn up week in, week out.

Other themes that have been created and aired on Channel 4 include the cult hit Football Italia in the 1990s and their American Football intro. In terms of Formula 1, Channel 4’s signature tune needs to be fast paced, it needs to get hearts racing. It needs to reflect the tone of the coverage and the race that viewers are about to watch. Having a slow, dreary theme is not the way to start motor racing coverage, but based on the above I’m confident Channel 4 will deliver. Some of BBC’s MotoGP themes captured the fast paced aspect perfectly. Hysteria by Muse and Begging You by The Stone Roses were good themes for motor racing coverage, in my opinion.

Like I said at the start of the piece, I am not great with music, so this is more a case of over to you. What song would you like to see become Channel 4’s signature Formula 1 theme? Or, will their coverage have a generically created theme (like ITV did with Jamiroquai in 1997)?

As always, your thoughts and suggestions are welcome in the comments below.

Update on January 23rd, 2016 – All the suggestions so far can be found in this playlist over on YouTube.

Channel 4 and Sky confirm 2016 F1 scheduling details

Channel 4 and Sky Sports have today confirmed their 2016 Formula One calendar picks. The picks are as follows:

2016 Schedule Details
March 20th – Australia (Melbourne) – Sky
April 3rd – Bahrain (Sakhir) – Channel 4 and Sky
April 17th – China (Shanghai) – Sky
May 1st – Russia (Sochi) – Sky
May 15th – Spain (Barcelona) – Channel 4 and Sky
May 29th – Monaco (Monaco) – Sky
June 12th – Canada (Montreal) – Sky
June 19th – Europe (Baku) – Channel 4 and Sky
July 3rd – Austria (Red Bull Ring) – Sky
July 10th – Britain (Silverstone) – Channel 4 and Sky
July 24th – Hungary (Budapest) – Channel 4 and Sky
July 31st – Germany (Hockenheim) – Sky
August 28th – Belgium (Spa) – Channel 4 and Sky
September 4th – Italy (Monza) – Channel 4 and Sky
September 18th – Singapore (Marina Bay) – Sky
October 2nd – Malaysia (Sepang) – Channel 4 and Sky
October 9th – Japan (Suzuka) – Sky
October 23rd – USA (Circuit of the Americas) – Sky
October 30th – Mexico (Mexico City) – Channel 4 and Sky
November 13th – Brazil (Interlagos) – Sky
November 27th – Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina) – Channel 4 and Sky

As reported last Thursday, Sky’s team is the same as last season. The notable names missing off Sky’s press release are Natalie Pinkham and Bruno Senna. I would not read too much into Pinkham’s name missing given she was present with Sky at the AUTOSPORT show. Senna’s name missing though may be a surprise. I don’t think it implies that he may be jumping to Channel 4 but one to keep an eye on.

The press release is nearly the same as last season meaning there is not a lot to point out. GP2 and GP3 are back, The F1 Show does not appear to be changing (despite some speculation at the back of last year to the contrary) and testing will be presented in the same format too, it looks like.

On the Channel 4 side of things, no further concrete information beyond the announcement of Whisper Films and David Coulthard last Monday. Unfortunately, there is no concrete information as to how their highlights programming will be scheduled, or the length. As discussed previously, the minimum length for the race highlight shows is two hours in my opinion. I really hope their highlights for Canada, USA and Brazil are as early as feasibly possible otherwise viewing figures could be very low for those three races.

Channel 4’s new Head of F1 (previously Commissioning Editor for Sport) Stephen Lyle said: “We are delighted to announce the full line up of races we will be showing live across 2016. The British Grand Prix is a huge highlight of the sporting calendar and we’re looking forward to covering all the action live from Silverstone this summer.”

Sky’s Head of F1 Martin Turner said: “This season offers everything. More races, more stories and more drama and only on Sky Sports F1 can viewers enjoy the complete story live. All eyes will again be on Lewis Hamilton while Mercedes and Ferrari will go head to head for the Constructors title. Our award-winning coverage will be there from the opening grid to the final chequered flag on our dedicated F1 channel and across our digital platforms.”

Normally I would go through the pick process and how I think it went. However, the picks are almost identical to the prediction made by this blog before Christmas, where I predicted correctly 19 of the 21 picks! The two races which I got wrong were Japan and Hungary. The ordering of picks would have been substantially different from pick eight onwards. In my original piece, I said it was between Australia and Hungary. I thought Sky would have taken Hungary over Australia, in reality it looks like they went in the opposite direction, allowing Channel 4 to pick Hungary. That’s probably the only surprise for me, as I anticipated, the picks are skewed towards the latter half of the season.

Update on February 1st – The FIA have now confirmed the timings of every session for 2016. The bad news for Channel 4 is, because of FOM’s insistence to clash Baku with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the qualifying session with Azerbaijan now runs from 14:00 to 15:00. Which means it clashes with the Royal Ascot. Looking at the schedule on the Royal Ascot website, I would expect both The Chesham Stakes and The Wolferton Rated Stakes air on More4, with Channel 4 joining at around 15:20.

Sky Sports F1 to air highlights from the AUTOSPORT show

Following on from Sky Sports F1’s highlights of the 2015 AUTOSPORT Awards, the channel is also set to air highlights from the AUTOSPORT show, it has been confirmed.

A round-up show, along with a special edition of Ted Kravitz’s Notebook, will air on the channel before the end of January. As readers who have been watching the AUTOSPORT show live stream may have spotted, Sky been filming ‘mini’ F1 Show’s during the course of the weekend for those in attendance with a rotation of Simon Lazenby, Natalie Pinkham, Rachel Brookes, David Croft and Kravitz, so the highlights will be an amalgamation of these I imagine.

There are no signs of the programmes yet on Sky’s EPG or online, but I will update this post as and when scheduling details are confirmed.

Update on January 26th – Neil Wooding, one of Sky F1’s assistant producers, says that a highlights programme will air this Friday at 20:00. Sky’s own schedules have not updated with this yet, but I will update this post further as and when they do so.

Update on January 27th – It is an hour long highlights programme. The description reads “News and interviews from The Autosport International Show at the NEC, the traditional curtain raiser to the motorsport season.” No sign of the aforementioned Ted’s Notebook, I suspect that may be online only.

The whispers making the rounds

The news that Whisper Films are going to be producing Channel 4’s coverage of Formula 1 has started a chain reaction of the faces that may be involved with Channel 4’s programming.

According to Charles Sale, Ben Edwards and Eddie Jordan are set to become members two and three of Channel 4’s Formula 1 on-air team. The Edwards and David Coulthard duo therefore looks set to continue on Channel 4. Edwards shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but it is great news to hear. As David Croft discussed at the AUTOSPORT show, there are not many other lead commentators out there. Jack Nicholls is presumably locked in with Formula E which means the only other option is James Allen. In previous broadcasting changes (BBC to ITV, ITV to BBC and then BBC to Sky), there has always been a commentary change.

But based on early indications, Channel 4 and Whisper Films want to keep a winning and successful formula. Jordan continuing might disappoint some readers, opinions on him were split during the recent survey. In my opinion, this was always a case of whether Jordan wanted to continue, and based on the comments from Sale, it looks like we will see Jordan for the live races only. However, an interesting subplot that Sale referenced is that Jordan’s son Kyle currently works for Whisper Films. His LinkedIn profile says he is “Commercial Director at Whisper Films”, although he is not listed as one of the key personnel on Whisper’s website.

One face that is unlikely to be involved, according to those that this blog has spoken to, is Suzi Perry. Perry, who presented BBC’s Formula 1 television coverage from 2013 to 2015, is not likely to make the jump to Channel 4. Assuming Jake Humphrey and Lee McKenzie are not candidates due to their relevant roles with BT Sport (football) and BBC Sport (Six Nations, Wimbledon and the Olympics), it means that Whisper Films’ choices for lead presenter are not immediately obvious.

Based on the choices readers of this site made, Jennie Gow and Andy Jaye are next down on the potential list for those likely to become lead presenter. Aside from Jaye stepping in for Gow for ITV’s Formula E coverage, I have not watched any of Jaye’s work, so I am not in a position to say which of the two I prefer. There was an argument that Coulthard could lead the coverage, at least for the highlight races, but I’m not convinced myself. Whilst I am a fan of Coulthard, I don’t think having the same person present and commentate is necessarily a good idea, although Murray Walker did so back in the 1990s with BBC’s old highlights package, when there was nowhere near as much analysis as we see today.

During the AUTOSPORT show today, Allan McNish made a brief comment about his BBC Radio 5 Live F1 role. McNish noted that he is “in the middle of discussions of what and how that all sits right now” with regards the current arrangement, as McNish used to appear on both BBC television and radio. Charles Sale’s piece says that “C4 do not want all the BBC team involved in their GP production,” which lends further credence to the theory that Perry will not be involved in Channel 4’s on-air team. As always, plans can change (and journalists can be wrong), but there are only nine weeks until Melbourne as we speak.

Behind the scenes, Coulthard tweeted out an interesting picture on Wednesday evening (see above). Aside from himself, there are three interesting faces in the picture. The first, sitting to the right of Coulthard is Sunil Patel, who formed Whisper Films alongside Coulthard and Humphrey. The second person to mention is Steve Aldous (second left). Aldous has been involved in Formula 1 television now for two decades, dating back to ITV’s first year on-air in 1997. He joined the BBC in 2009, remaining in the role of Assistant Editor. The third person is Richard Carr (to the left of Coulthard). Carr has worked with two wheels and four wheels, directing most of BBC’s Formula 1 programming in recent years.

In other words, three of the biggest five names on the production side of BBC F1 will be involved in Channel 4’s coverage. They are Aldous, Carr and Mark Wilkin. The two names missing are Ben Gallop (currently BBC’s Head of Interactive and was Head of F1) and Andrew Benson (BBC’s chief F1 writer).

Sky to field unchanged team for 2016 as Croft backs Edwards for Channel 4 role

David Croft, the lead commentator for Sky Sports’ F1 coverage, has given his full backing for Ben Edwards to lead Channel 4’s commentary team this season, whilst also stating that Sky’s own line-up will remain unchanged for the 2016 Formula One season.

Speaking about the lead commentator role at the AUTOSPORT Show with Henry Hope-Frost on Thursday afternoon, Croft backed Edwards for the role at Channel 4, noting that “I sent Ben Edwards a text message before Christmas saying ‘Look I hope the only thing that changes next year is that you have got a different logo on your shirt mate and that you’re still in the commentary box next to me,’ because Ben’s a top bloke and a terrific commentator. I’d love to be commentating on Sky F1 with Ben commentating on Channel 4 and then when we put the mike down we’ll stand and have a chat about what we’ve just seen which is what we do all the time.” In a survey on this site, a clear majority of you backed Edwards for the lead commentator position with the broadcaster.

While on the AUTOSPORT stage, Croft commented on BBC’s television demise from Formula 1, looking back at his time with the BBC “As a man who came into Formula 1 working for BBC Radio 5 Live and who worked for the BBC for many, many years, I think it’s a real shame that the BBC couldn’t afford to keep Formula 1. It was much loved Formula 1 on the BBC. It was much watched as well and it pushed and challenged us at Sky. It challenged us to hopefully not only be as good as the BBC coverage but be better.”

Croft referenced the fact that Whisper Films’ personnel, such as former BBC producer Mark Wilkin have been producing Formula 1 television for many years. “I think Channel 4 will be fab for the sport and they will be great for us at Sky F1 as well. They’ll push us, we’ll push them and the net result hopefully for you guys watching here will be that you get the best F1 coverage in the world. As far as I’m concerned, bring on Channel 4 and whoever joins David Coulthard in front of the camera, and whoever is there behind the scenes as well. When the cameras stop rolling, we’re all very good mates in the paddock, there is no rivalry to that extent,” Croft said.

One piece of news that came from Croft is that it looks like the Sky Sports F1’s team will remain unchanged for the 2016 season. Croft commented “As far as I know the Sky team will be unchanged. Natalie Pinkham will be taking another little break mid-season when she goes and has child number two.”