Commonwealth Games go up a gear

Clare Balding, Hazel Irvine, Gary Lineker, Gabby Logan in front of Glasgow backdrop Clare Balding, Hazel Irvine, Gary Lineker and Gabby Logan will present coverage

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Two years since the euphoria of London 2012, another multi-sport event arrives on British shores.

The Commonwealth Games may be a tad smaller but, with a total £575.6m budget, it's still a huge sporting showcase for 71 nations.

Usain Bolt, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah and Paralympic champion David Weir will be among 6,500 athletes thrilling spectators in Glasgow during the next fortnight.

The Games are also taking place in the run-up to another major Scottish event - the independence referendum this September.

The BBC, along with other broadcasters, will be required to remain politically neutral but the vote still lends extra significance to the Games.

'Juice and spice'

Sport presenter Hazel Irvine, who was born in the east coast of Scotland in St Andrews, says: 'There have been political sensitivities [around] many events, not least Sochi, which was interesting. You just get on with your job and do it as well as you can.'

Today broadcaster Mishal Husain, who will host BBC One coverage, adds: 'It really is about the sport. I think the minute the competition starts, that will be all-consuming.'

Instead of Team GB, the different parts of the UK will be competing against each other but Six Nations Rugby presenter Gabby Logan says: 'I think it adds juice and spice.'

Irvine recalls working on the 2002 Commonwealth Games: 'We had a home games in Manchester and all the constituent parts of the British Isles took part and revelled in it and we all loved it. There's always a lovely rivalry in our team - are the Welsh going to get it, are the Scots, Isle of Man?'

Seek Peace sign spelt out by people at Manchester closing ceremony Manchester 2002 (above) provided the launchpad for London 2012 and Glasgow 2014

BBC coverage of international sporting events can often draw complaints about home bias - with viewers saying there's either too much or not enough.

But BBC Sport director Barbara Slater says: 'I think our responsibility is to tell the wonderful stories across the games… I'm not sure that all broadcasters in other countries necessarily embrace an event in the way that we certainly try to, which is to celebrate sporting achievement and excellence.

'We should celebrate success, we should cheer, we should be in tune with our audiences but it's sporting excellence that has to lead.'

She adds that the BBC will apply lessons from Olympic coverage, when there was a 'step-change' in audience consumption, with millions accessing content through handheld devices.

'I think the big lessons were just how much people loved choice, and the access to content that they may never have had before. So this idea that everything is available - every session, every day live - all of that will be available on the BBC's new video player.'

Flat-pack broadcasting

There will be 17 sports - and up to 17 BBC digital streams - at the Games, contributing to the BBC's biggest ever coverage of the Commonwealth event.

'London 2012 just felt really significant,' says Dan Walker, who will present BBC Three coverage. 'But for something to get anywhere near what London was like, to get an opportunity to do that two years later in Britain… we're just really excited about it.'

Logan says: 'We know what we're doing as well, because [London] was the first time we were doing multiplatform and that was a big challenge. We had so many commentators and broadcasters across so many sports, and we know that we can do it now, so you just take it up another gear.'

As with the Olympics, BBC Three will extend its schedule for the Commonwealth Games.

BBC Breakfast, The One Show and Radio 5 live will also come live from Glasgow, and events will be hosted in and around the BBC Scotland headquarters at Pacific Quay.

The BBC will also broadcast from a portable flat-pack studio, previously used by Austrian and American broadcasters, which will show off the regeneration around the River Clyde.

Pacific Quay buildings BBC Scotland (centre) will be at the heart of broadcasting action

Clare Balding, who successfully predicted that dressage would be the dark horse of the Olympics, believes netball could be a highlight this time. 'Because essentially it is the world championships. The best four nations in the world are New Zealand, Australia, England and Jamaica.'

She will be reporting on the diving, where English hopeful Tom Daley will be competing, and swimming.

'I will be looking at South Africa as well because Chad's back and therefore Chad's dad [Bert le Clos] is back.'

Bert Le Clos interview by Clare Balding Clare Balding looks forward to meeting Bert le Clos again

Her interview with the emotional yet self-deprecating Bert le Clos, after his son defeated record-breaking champion Michael Phelps, brought a smile to many viewers during London 2012.

BBC Scotland presenter - and founder member of the band Deacon Blue - Dougie Vipond adds: 'I think the lovely thing was that it was a very un-BBC moment… because suddenly it was like, there is a guy in the crowd, we're going to grab him and speak to him.

'It was a great thing [full of] parental pride. In Scotland there will be plenty of people like that who will be desperate to be on the telly and just as entertaining - just make sure it's not live.'

He adds: 'Everyone was smiling in London, everyone will be smiling in Glasgow - I'm sure about it.'

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