What A Bunch Of Anchors

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Whilst out with my family for Sunday lunch, I caught a glimpse of the Formula One coverage airing on the pub’s T.V and there to greet me was Newsround’s very own Jake Humphrey.

A smiling Jake toured me through a pit-lane, commenting on the engine specifications of the new Ferrari as he went. I had to excuse myself as I violently choked on my roast beef.

As I watched the rest of the segment he came across as eloquent and well-informed on a topic he was clearly passionate about. Nonetheless, something in my head was struggling to comprehend how he was qualified to talk to me, and the rest of the country, about the finer details of motor racing. This was a man who spent most of his early career presenting sports stories to an audience with an average age in single figures; does he really possess the required technical knowledge to anchor something of this stature?

The same question could be asked of other broadcasters, just look at Adrian Chiles. He earned his reputation by working as a business analyst for the BBC; well known for translating even the most boring financial stories into understandable, interesting pieces. It was this ability to condense technical information that impressed his bosses and led to his role in Match of the Day 2 and ultimately his switch to ITV to anchor their World Cup coverage. I can’t help but struggle to believe that working as a football anchor requires this skill or even that Chiles is well positioned to deliver it.

Whether watching highlights or live coverage, there is a demand for good quality analysis beyond the basic summaries that he has for a long time been used to delivering. It is the anchors job to guide the discussion of the team of pundits clamouring to offer their opinion whilst contributing some insight of their own. In contrast to his position in financial reporting Chiles has a limited footballing background, which limits his contribution particularly compared to rival presenter Gary Lineker who has an abundance of experience.

Where he does redeem himself is in asking the right questions of those sat around him. Chiles is the master of teasing an opinion out of even the most stand-off guests, drawing mangers to comment candidly on their jobs and all manner of controversial issues from the pitch.

Whatsmore, I am certain that Lee Dixon owes his continued career in broadcasting largely to Chiles’ knack for knowing exactly when to let him loose with defensive analysis and when to tighten the reins and prevent the inevitable boredom setting in.

Not that he is a miracle worker. Having moved to ITV he now has to work around the company’s questionable hiring process. For every international match there is always one pundit who is a former player and whose nationality matches one of the teams playing.

Unfortunately, a good grasp of the English language is not a pre-requisite to the job these days. As such, the audience is regularly treated to a mumbling Marcel Desailly whenever France, or bizarrely Ghana, are playing. Despite having only ever represented France, ITV feel that a Ghana match is ample excuse for letting Desailly struggle to express how sad it is that many fans will be watching the games among the chickens. Good luck, Adrian Chiles.

Sue Barker, anchor of BBC’s Wimbledon broadcasts, deserves special recognition for navigating the minefield of problems that tennis serves her way. In particular, the numerous long breaks in play force her to interact with the planet’s most sinfully boring sports pundit, Tim Henman. Admittedly wehat Henman actually says is credible but at the end of the day he’s still as interesting as the beige cardigans he is famed for wearing.

Perhaps as a reward for her suffering, through the BBC equivelant of purgatory, she has been promoted to host coverage of the next Olympics alongside the distinctly more enigmatic Colin Jackson. Though if that’s how broadcasting works, then I can only imagine Chiles is next in line for Pope after being handed Desailly as a sidekick for the forseeable future.

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