Wimbledon on the BBC
So, here we go again - the grass court caravan rolls in to SW19, all-whites and best behaviour the order of the day, at stake the most prized trophy in tennis… Champion of Wimbledon!
From its humble beginnings in 1877 Wimbledon has grown to become one of the world’s greatest international sporting occasions, attended annually by some half a million fans, broadcast to over 175 territories with a potential reach of over 600 million viewers. The BBC acts as the host broadcaster for the 13 days of competition televising a total of nine courts and for the second year running both Centre and No 1 courts will be broadcast in High Definition (HD).
Coverage will be available on a dedicated BBC HD channel via the Sky Electronic Programme guide with a total of 12 hours per day with the best live and highlights play from the two main show courts between 1255 and 0100.
In addition to the 150 hours available on BBC1 and BBC2 the highly popular BBC interactive TV service will be once again offering digital viewers a host of extra features including a choice of up to 5 courts, all the latest news, scores and results as well as a daily highlights package.
Online this year, there will be all sorts of ways to follow and enjoy the action.
Our website will broadcast ALL that live video coverage from the show courts for UK users, with daily highlights and hopefully a few extra treats, as well as the Five Live & Five Live Sports Extra coverage available worldwide, along with a Pat Cash podcast.
Five Live will be offering its usual unique blend of commentary and conversation with Gabby Logan joining Simon Mayo and Clare Balding presenting live reports across the Championships, along with a host of top name pundits and roving reporters.
Also on the website, our journalists at Wimbledon will keep you bang up-to-date with the news as it happens, gossip, reaction and photos each day, as well as encouraging you to contribute to our coverage through 606 and with texts, photos, and votes.
We will also, of course, provide the best game-by-game updates on the big matches, plus all the latest scores and results, available thorugh our Wimbledon services on Ceefax (from page 490), Digital Text (page 485) and your mobile phone.
And then in the evenings John McEnroe and Gabby will be hosting ‘Six-Love-Six’ on Five Live, full of lively debate and listener interaction. Highlights will be available on YouTube and digital TV viewers will have the chance to watch Mc as he takes calls, via the red button.
Another controversial tennis star joins the Five Live team, Jeff Tarango. Infamous for his on court outbursts, he will be going around the courts taking on punters in various challenges. If he wins – they get a sticker, “you’ve been Tarangoed”!
And as soon as there is a lengthy rain break Clare Balding, along with a team of former players and experts will host a live Centre Court debate. They will seek to answer questions from the crowd in a special ‘Any Sporting Questions’.
So what else is new for 2007? If you are lucky enough to have tickets to Centre Court take a brolly - the redevelopments mean there is no roof this year ahead of fitting a retractable translucent roof in time for the 2009 Championships from whence there will be continuous live play satisfying TV audiences around the world.
The 2007 championships will be the first to offer men and women equal prize money, each singles champion winning £700,000. That will be sweet music to the BBC’s latest recruit, nine-time women’s singles champion, Martina Navratilova.
Also new to the team will be former US Open finalist, Greg Rusedski who joins our regulars of John McEnroe, Boris Becker and Jimmy Connors who will be combining his TV work while coaching The Artois champion, Andy Roddick.
And back this year is Virginia Wade, celebrating the 30th anniversary of her win over Betty Stove in the 1977 Women’s singles final during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Sue Barker was a losing semi-finalist that year and The BBC’s ‘Queen of Wimbledon’ will be presenting all the live TV coverage across the fortnight. John Inverdale will front the nightly highlights programme, ‘Today at Wimbledon’. Britain’s Davis Cup captain, John Lloyd also returns along with regular experts Pat Cash, Michael Stich, Annabel Croft, Peter Fleming and Sam Smith.
Another first at this year’s Championships will be the use of ‘Hawk-Eye’, the official umpiring tool used to assist with contentious line calls. Players will receive three unsuccessful appeals per set plus an additional one during a tie-break. There will be big screens on both Centre and No1 courts to display the decision. As in recent years The BBC will be using the ball tracking system with Jason Goodall giving viewers an in-depth analysis of the intricacies of a player’s game as well as highlighting patterns of play.
BBC English Regions will be providing additional coverage from Wimbledon for our 12 regional TV programmes and 40 local radio stations. There will also be special coverage throughout the fortnight on BBC London 94.9.
The BBC will also be operating big screens in key outdoor locations around the UK offering coverage of this years Wimbledon. They will be in Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Rotherham, Bradford, Derby and London’s Canary Wharf. At the screens there will be an interactive tennis game available for the public to play at the screens, plus localised events, virtual tournaments, strawberry sampling and non-alcoholic refreshments.
So pray for sunshine and a fortnight of top action that you can catch just about wherever you are on TV, on radio and online … all on the BBC!