Monday, 12 March 2012

Martin Brundle's Friends - David Croft

David Croft (not to be confused with the other David Croft) is the man who will be the voice of Formula One on Sky, and will likely be responsible for releasing carefully-planned doses of Martin Brundle into our living rooms. Here is a potted summary of his career.

When he's not taking part in ill-advised photoshoots that make him look a Top Gear reject, Croft is from a similar career background to Jonathan Legard, a BBC journalist who had plenty of experience covering a wide range of sports before landing the F1 gig. He's covered the Olympics, darts, cricket, golf and football for the BBC, as well as freelance jobs in boxing and (allegedly) parkour. He also has a mildly amusing page on his agent's website:

As a commentator? I've not had cause to listen to F1 on the radio too of; but on the occasions that I have, I've been able to follow how the race is going and he's not made me want to throw the radio out of the car. Someone on Youtube made a rather uncharitable (but still valid) comparison between Legard and Croft at Turkey in 2010:

So on the face of it, there's no reason why he can't be a success for Sky - except there's the issue of the medium. Inasmuch as commentary of any kind can be easy (it's not), radio commentary is relatively easy because if you're stuck for anything to say, you just pretend you're on Catchphrase and say what you see, and you're giving out useful information. Telly you can't necessarily do that; there's a lot more interpretation than description - and while Martin will be doing the lion's share of interpretation, there's still plenty of room for the main man to editorialise.

The other factor that might come into play is the danger of catching Sky-itis. Anyone who watches Sky regularly knows that they have a simple rule - you can say that individuals, or teams, aren't doing so well and have made mistakes; but the quality of the event as a whole must be talked up at all costs. Every SKY SUPER SUNDAY football match is a FANTASTIC AFFAIR or a GREAT BATTLE or even a COM ARM-WRESTLE (because otherwise, according to the Sky mindset, the viewer might be tempted to think "why am I paying large amounts of subscription fees to watch this dross?"). By comparison, the BBC feels free to say "actually, that race was a bit dull", because we're not paying for it (yes, O pedants, technically we are, but not in the same way). Brundle I'm sure will not succumb to Sky-itis; he knows that he's achieved the position he has due in some part to saying when things are wrong and poor, and it'll fatally compromise him to start toeing a party line now. Without such a public profile, Croft may feel the pressure to conform. I hope not.



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