ITV’S FORMULA ONE COVERAGE: AN EXPERT’S VIEW: ITV takes pole position in Grand Prix programming, as Sean Jefferson reveals

’I unreservedly and grovellingly apologise.’ With that humble phrase, we knew we were in safe hands. Sure, they had modified the design, changed the livery, signed up new sponsors, recruited a brand-new back-up crew and tinkered with the aerodynamics. But, at the heart of it all, the driver was still the best in the business.

’I unreservedly and grovellingly apologise.’ With that humble

phrase, we knew we were in safe hands. Sure, they had modified the

design, changed the livery, signed up new sponsors, recruited a

brand-new back-up crew and tinkered with the aerodynamics. But, at the

heart of it all, the driver was still the best in the business.



ITV has snatched an institution from the BBC, but dear old Murray Walker

was there at the wheel to give a top performance.



The executive producer, Neil Duncanson, had promised ’more interviews,

analysis, expert opinion and humour’. And, of course, more of that

’fast-lane lifestyle’.



Wrested from the middle-of-the-road conservatism of Auntie, the build-up

to this Australian Grand Prix was presented with pace, panache and

personalities. Jim Rosenthal encouraged just the right type of informed

but upbeat analysis from the experts, Tony Jardine and Simon Taylor.



As for the race coverage, Walker was ably assisted by Martin Brundle -

an effective debut by the ex-racer.



Any motorsports fan troubled by the intrusion of ads need not worry.



Five two-minute splash-and-dash breaks provided an oasis of commercial

calm in the multi-logoed mayhem of the race itself.



The ads slotted seamlessly into the schedule. Unsurprisingly, each break

opened with a car brand - mostly ones with no presence on the track -

with the advertisers attracted by an audience of ABC1 men, which, at

867,000, was double the normal ITV Sunday afternoon upmarket male

figure. The Australian is the only Grand Prix to go out in the small

hours: from here on in, each of the 16 races will be broadcast in the

mid-afternoon to more than three million men.



Texaco’s top-and-tailers caught the mood although, strangely, the

chequered flag was followed by a pit-stop creative. A minor mishap in an

otherwise impressive opener.



Sean Jefferson is the head of sponsorship at Western International

Media.



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