Whisper Films have retained the production contract for Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage in 2019, this site can reveal.
The production company, created by Jake Humphrey, David Coulthard and Sunil Patel, produced Channel 4’s coverage from 2016 to 2018 following the BBC’s television exit from the sport at the end of 2015.
Now, with Channel 4 airing the British Grand Prix live in 2019 and the remaining races in highlights form, I understand that Whisper will continue to produce Formula 1 for Channel 4. Despite no official announcement from Channel 4, Whisper are currently advertising a variety of Formula 1 production roles for the 2019 season.
Although the move provides Channel 4 with continuity, I understand that Whisper have made a significant internal change to their production line-up. Industry sources have confirmed to this site that F1 programme editor Mark Wilkin has left the Whisper Films production team with immediate effect.
Wilkin produced the BBC’s original Grand Prix programme prior to 1997, and more recently was the BBC’s and Channel 4’s F1 editor between 2009 and 2018. I understand Whisper pushed Wilkin rather than a third-party poaching him.
Whisper have replaced Wilkin with John Curtis, who joins Whisper from Sky Sports News. Curtis has worked with Sky Sports News in various guises for the past 15 years. Of note, Curtis produced Sky Sports News’ F1 output during 2012 and 2013, Sky’s first two seasons covering Formula 1 before budget cuts hit.
The change will inevitably result in a different editorial slant to Channel 4’s highlights package compared with previous years, although how different that is will only become clear come Australia.
As reported in September, the raw structure of Channel 4’s highlights programme is expected to be similar to the past three seasons, with a slightly smaller run-time for the race edit itself, although I am told that discussions are ongoing between Channel 4 and Sky Sports around several aspects of Channel 4’s programming.
Last Thursday, Sky confirmed that Karun Chandhok would be part of their line-up, with a trimmed down Channel 4 line-up looking increasingly likely as expected.
This site has reached out to Whisper Films for comment.