On Your Bike, Jonathan - Studio Tactics Are All Wrong

Article excerpt

VIEW FROM THE SOFA World Track Cycling BBC 2

Cycling is a perfect vehicle for a public service broadcaster such as the BBC to be, erm, peddling. For one, Britain are good at it. And there is nothing better to get people involved in a sport, whether it is watching or participating, than basking in the glow of the success of your compatriots.

Secondly, it is accessible - unlike motor sport, which brings to mind the reaction five years ago when the Beeb forked out something like 40m for the rights to show Formula One: something along the lines of: "Youngsters are going to take up Formula One in their droves, now it's on the BBC".

So the week of World Track Cycling Championships coverage from Minsk should have everyone from paediatricians to politicians cheering at the prospect of people watching British people winning; they would surely get on their bikes and cure the obesity crisis in one fell swoop. No need for fat and fizzy drink taxes when we've got Becky James, the new individual sprint world champion, to look up to.

But there was one small problem to the feelgood factor of Brits winning gold. And that was the presentation.

The coverage of the races themselves was fine, with Simon Brotherton and Chris Boardman even making the keirin make sense. But it was in the studio that things went a little awry. It was anchored by Jonathan Edwards (below), the former triple jumper who is ideal covering athletics as the straight man to Colin Jackson's hyperventilating, scattergun punditry. But in the more austere environment of a studio that looked kitted out in 1980s Eastern Bloc chic - fittingly, given the location of the championships - faced with a couple of pundits, forced to elicit analysis and opinion, Edwards fell short. Despite the salt and pepper locks, earnest expressions and half-smiles, he is no Gary Lineker. He's not even Gary Barlow. …