THE BBC will “err slightly towards” the successes of Scottish athletes in its coverage of next year’s Commonwealth Games on the basis that competitors from the home nation will attract the “biggest roars” and “most emotional interviews” that will be “played for years to come.”
The corporation today unveiled comprehensive plans for its wall-to-wall coverage of Glasgow 20134, describing them as “Olympian” in their ambition and scope. Broadcasts will be fronted by some of the network’s most esteemed presenters from current affairs and sport.
While the plans do not include dedicated television coverage of Team Scotland’s exploits via the like of a live stream or red button channel, senior executives said audience research indicated viewers north of the border want to see “the best athletes and performances,” irrespective of the nations involved.
Amid concerns that the lion’s share of the production work will be carried out by staff relocating from BBC Sport in Salford, they added that there would be “lots of opportunities for BBC Scotland staff to play a role.
Linker and Balding to host coverage
At a press conference in Pacific Quay, the vast scale of the BBC’s Glasgow 2014 schedule became clear. Heavyweight presenters such as Gary Lineker, Clare Balding, Gabby Logan and John Inverdale will front extensive coverage across the main channels, with other big names like Huw Edwards, Mishal Husain and Ken Bruce also part of the line-up.
However, there are only two well-known names from BBC Scotland in the main presentation team for television: Hazel Irvine, who will host four hours of coverage a day on BBC 1; and Dougie Vipond, scheduled to co-present planned coverage on BBC Three. Fred MacAuley, meanwhile, will co-present a daily show co-produced by Radio Scotland and 5 Live.
Ron Chakraborty, the BBC’s major events editor, said he hoped management had struck the “right kind of balance between Scottish faces and voices, and our major events veterans.”
He told The Scotsman: “You’ve got the likes of Gabby Logan and Clare Balding, and you want to make sure they’re on the team. They also tell the audience we’re treating this like a big event, so that was the balance we had to strike and we feel we’ve got it right.”
Bruce Malcolm, the BBC’s head of Commonwealth Games, said the mix of staff from BBC Scotland and elsewhere in the UK represented a “unique set-up,” and that by utilising Pacific Quay’s staff and facilities it would save the licence payer “quite a significant sum of money.”
Reporting Scotland will have extended bulletins on the Games, while BBC Two Scotland’s Sport Nation will focus on sports action in the run-up to and during the spectacle. It is, though, Radio Scotland that will focus predominantly on Scottish athletes, with live coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies along with a “responsive” schedule featuring live inserts from the city’s venues “as and when” a medal is won.
The running order for a flagship hour-long nightly highlights show on BBC One, Mr Chakraborty said, will be dependent on events, but he admitted that whatever the lead story is each night, it “will leave three nations pretty annoyed because they thought they had the biggest story.”
Even so, he suggested Team Scotland was deserving of special consideration, adding: “Inevitably, you’re going to err slightly towards the Scotland athletes not just because they’re from the host nation, but they’re going to be the best pictures. They’ll have the biggest roars and the most emotional interviews. They will be the moments that are played for years to come, so there’s a little added appeal to them, but you never know what could happen.”
One Show, BBC Breakfast to shoot in Glasgow
With a host of well-known network programming strands - including The One Show, BBC Breakfast and A Question of Sport - due to broadcast from Glasgow over the course of the 11-day competition, the corporation is also building an additional studio to the rear of its Scottish headquarters, known as Mavis Bank Quay.
A host of cultural programmes will complement the sporting coverage, including documentaries on the regeneration of Glasgow’s east end, the ships built on Clydeside, and a three-part series on Scottish writers presented by Andrew Marr. Another hour-long show, presented by Lulu, will explore a “musical map” of Glasgow, the BBC said.
David Grevemberg, chief executive of Glasgow 2014, said: “We’re really delighted to see the range and depth of commitment demonstrated by the BBC and which will take coverage of the Commonwealth Games to a new and exciting level.
“The sheer diversity of coverage across the network and across platforms creates a wealth of opportunities for a wide range of audiences across the country and across the world to engage in the action and excitement of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
“This a fantastic opportunity to showcase the best of sport and culture and the best of Glasgow and Scotland on a national and global stage.”