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The Open: how 5 live covers the event

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Graham McMillan | 16:09 UK time, Thursday, 14 July 2011

Rory McIlroy at the Open

The Open Golf Championship presents more challenges than any of the other sporting events we cover on an annual basis.

Firstly, it's technically very tricky to cover a piece of land as big as a golf course. Secondly, the weather plays such a big role in proceedings. Then there's simply the number of hours we're on air, and finally, there's the challenge of making sure everyone listening doesn't miss a single crucial moment as the action unfolds.

Our technical team have been in place since Saturday: building our studios, laying
all the cables around the course and testing all the radio microphones the
commentators will use on Thursday morning. This is no easy job! Last year we thought we had interference on our equipment from a nearby military base, while at a Ryder Cup
a few years ago, a local TV transmitter was found to be causing mayhem with our,
and everyone else's, commentary.

Last year the weather played a key role in both our big golf events, The Open and
the Ryder Cup. You may remember the wind delay on the second afternoon at St
Andrews that lead to play finishing at 10pm at night.

And then of course there was the Ryder Cup, where rain nearly washed out the whole of the first day. It's not just soaking wet commentators that are a problem at that point. Electrical equipment does not appreciate getting wet. And as for wind, if it gets too strong our mobile transmitters have to come down from their lofty positions, meaning we can cover far less of the course. That's why I'm hoping for four days of sunny, warm
weather this week. I don't think we're going to get it.

I know I shouldn't worry about the ability of our award-winning commentary team to
keep people entertained over the course of 40 hours of live coverage. After all, they
talk for a living! As ever, John Inverdale leads the team, alongside Nicky Campbell
who's presenting Breakfast live from the course. They'll be joined by our commentators,
who include our golf correspondent Iain Carter, John Murray and Clare Balding, as well as Mark Roe, Bernard Gallacher and Jay Townsend.

The final problem is my problem. Making sure you get to hear all the crucial drives
and putts, as well as all the stories from the 156 players in the field and giving
you a feel for the atmosphere at one of the great sporting events.

And then imagine eight people talking to you all day, simultaneously, and having to follow
and understand all those conversations and then decide who to put on air as a result.
That's what happens every hour of every day of the Championship. My head starts to
hurt at the thought of it. But it's great fun too.

So that's a bit of what goes on behind the scenes at the Open. I hope you enjoy
listening over the next few days.

Graham McMillan is 5 live's golf producer. You can hear extensive coverage of the event from Thursday till Sunday's climax, here on 5 live and 5 live sports extra.


  • Comment number 1.

    John Inverdale is brilliant.

    Why was Vassos on breakfast from The Open and not George Riley?

  • Comment number 2.

    John Inverdale excellent as ever, should be presenting every afternoon on 5 live. Certainly would have made a better anchor for the Wimbledon coverage.

  • Comment number 3.

    John Inverdale a better anchor than Richard Bacon? Surely you jest...no, really!

  • Comment number 4.

    Notice you've closed for comments your blog on phone-hacking, crafty .....s!

    You lot keep on ranting on that this story is going to run and run. Clearly for the wrong reason!

  • Comment number 5.

    Why isn't the golf on 5live sports extra or whatever it is? I hate sport and have had to switch to another station.

    Agree with you Nick, as the NOTW story enters marathon territory, strange how they have closed the blog.

  • Comment number 6.

    The BBC strike has taken a bit of a toll, will Invers be there this afternoon? And Clare? Where is Carter? Is Nicky is having a lie in?

  • Comment number 7.

    Phew, Carter had a lie in.

  • Comment number 8.

    And lovely Invers IS there. Another phew. Could he please be offered a new daily contract?

    Keeping to the point of this blog, I am always far more impressed by the radio golf commentary than the TV. I know Alliss is an institution but the combo of Ian and Jay, who can be quite feisty in a friendly sort of way, is so compelling. Plus Murray. Yesterday it was mentioned only two people covered a very early broadcast of the Open way back when. Now it is seamless and entertaining. Shame zelda doesn't like golf, I agree with her it should be on 5LSE, because of its sheer length of coverage over the day.

  • Comment number 9.

    Not missing those who are on strike at all. Hasn't spolit the golf coverage. Perhaps money could be saved by encouraging them to say away permanently.

  • Comment number 10.

    This morning at about 8-20, one of the guests was speaking of the British Open as being the English Open and wasn't corrected. He was hoping for an English winner in the "home" major.
    BBC TV, please push for Scottish venues for the beautiful scenery between shots. This venue does not match up.

  • Comment number 11.

    So apergatika dislikes the use of the word "English".

    Why so, especially when we are all expected to get behind "Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy".

    And as for hosting The Open in Scotland, well why should that be the case? After all, just because a sport is invented in a particular country doesn't mean that country should have a divine right to host major tournaments.

    Maybe you'd like to ban the use of the 'E' word; well there's plenty who think like that at the BBC.

  • Comment number 12.

    FACT This is the BRITISH Open, this year held in England. The commentator was working for the Bbc not Ebc. The place lacks those extra beautiful TV asides showing the scenery, why, because there ain't any worth looking at. We are spoiled up here, I know.

  • Comment number 13.

    Yes it is the (British) Open.

    We also have a Scottish Open too. Why can't the (British) Open become the English Open though, that wouldn't take anything away from the Scottish tournament.

    As for scenery, well it doesn't say much for Golf if the quality or enjoyability of the coverage is dependant on the availability of a nearby beauty spot for the cameras to pan to does it.

    Other sports sre able to hold their viewers' attention without the need for a nearby mountain range to look at between plays.

    And as for this being the BBC, well there are times I feel I'm paying for the CBC/SBC with their denial of English identity and their obsession with the Celtic Nations.

    Of course people in Scotland and Wales are more than welcome to vote for independence if they don't like the way things work now...

  • Comment number 14.

    There is no british open. It is the open championship. It is world wide and anyone can enter. It is played in britain. The scottish open is a european tour event. The open is run by the R&A. If someone from england wins it is still their 'home major'. If rory wins it will be his 'home major' too.

  • Comment number 15.

    I've been following golf for years on tv and on radio. My belief is that in England the sport is quite elitist, where in Scotland it is played by everyone from upper to working class. I tuned into bbc tv to watch on thursday and friday and thought the coverage so much poorer than usual. The competition is so tight but they only really showed about 10 golfers. (unless someone did something spectacular). At least we didn't have to suffer Sam Torrance. Maybe I have got too used to Sky's exellent coverage where they have Professional golfers discussing the golf in the studio. the bbc coverage has too much trivial nonsense. (the guy on the course, I think his name is Walker, for eg.) You have to sit through this guff wondering how golfers are faring on the course. More leaderboard coverage from start to finish.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Is there any chance of the BBC signing up jim nantz? He did a stint on tv. He came across very well informed and very easy to listen to. Everything that Clair Balding isn't. The guy is superb.

  • Comment number 18.

    To say that golf in England is elitist is utter rubbish. There are, of course, private clubs that wouldn't let you through the gate but the rest of England is blessed with hundreds and hundreds of public courses crammed with enthusiasts. I do agree that hardly any of the field featured on Thursday and Friday but it is better today with the participants thinned by the cut.

  • Comment number 19.

    Mananon,the Royal and Ancient, from ST Andrews run The Open which is mostly held in Scotland. I DO like the way it is normally but they have to allow England to hold a few just to keep them interested. If YOU don't like the way it is, you can vote for English independence and watch golf wither on the vine.

  • Comment number 20.

    Great blog Graham and fantastic coverage as ever from the Five Live golf team this weekend.

    Not sure if Graham will be looking at the comments but if so is there any chance of Paul Eales re-joining the Five Live team? He was poached and now dumped by BBCTV which is a big shame he's a top golf summeriser, it would be good if Five Live could get him back for next year.

    If not Paul what about Jamie Spence who was used last year and in previous years, it makes much more sence to have 6 summerisers to be paired with the 6 commentators?

  • Comment number 21.

    Fantastic coverage Graham, congratulations to you and all your team.


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