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Your Wimbledon questions answered

Paul Davies | 16:01 UK time, Thursday, 3 July 2008

Hi, thanks for all your emails about our coverage of the Wimbledon Championships on BBC Television.

I've answered the most frequently asked questions below.

Q. Have you been pleased with Tim Henman's contribution?

Tim's contribution has been impressive. We have been really pleased with how he's taken to what is a brand new discipline for him.

Obviously he has had a sore throat which prevented him from commentating on Andy Murray's match yesterday, but he'll be back for the semis on Friday.

He has taken to the commentary box environment very well and he gets on fantastically with the other commentators.

He has had to get used to working with the likes of John McEnroe and their style of commentating. We feel his insight and knowledge of the game has added immense value to our coverage.

Q. Where is Jimmy Connors this year?

Jimmy is no longer working as Andy Roddick's coach so his plans are a bit different from previous years as he wasn't coming over here to fulfil his obligations. For that main reason we weren't able to get Jimmy on our team this year.

Q. Why do commentators talk over play so much?

It's probably the largest complaint we get. It is certainly something we try to avoid.

We have fairly strict rules and guidelines that commentators shouldn't talk over the umpire, they should give nice clean ins and outs at the start and end of games and also just not overtalk.

We tend to ask commentators to pause over at least one or two points a game to let the atmosphere and images speak for themselves.

Q. Could you explain why you switch matches from BBC One to BBC Two and vice-versa without warning?

It's a fair complaint. What we are trying to achieve when we do this is bring the climax of a high profile match such as Andy Murray v Rafael Nadal, to the widest possible audience.

Clearly it does affect people's video recordings and that can be annoying, but with the advent of iPlayer and other online initiatives, where you can review matches in full, I think it will be become less of a problem in years to come.

We do recognise that it is a irritant to some people.

Q. Who is the man that is always sat in the Players' Box with the beard and the hat?

That is David Spearing who is the honorary steward for the Players' Box.

Q. Why are the highlights on at the earlier time of 2000 BST?

We are trying to provide the best possible schedule for Wimbledon fans.

Audience research suggests there is a real appetite for people coming in from work wanting to join our coverage of the Championships.

We've therefore extended the daily BBC Two schedule so that it runs from 1800 to 2100 BST.

We want to make this programme as strong and consistent as possible and include all the best action of the day, so we are devoting the final hour to a full round-up of 'Today at Wimbledon'.

Looking back at previous years we have found that our live coverage of Centre Court and Number One court is often finished by 2000 - weather permitting!

However, on occasions we appreciate significant live play may run past 2000, so we do have provision for running a later highlights programme at 2320 if we are not able to bring viewers a highlights programme at the billed time.

Live tennis is always available via BBCi's interactive service when play is happening on one of the televised courts.

So with the five separate streams coming from Wimbledon, streamed live coverage and on demand highlights at, and our programming on BBC One and BBC Two we do offer our viewers an enormous choice.

Q. Why do you come off games on your interactive service while they are midway through?

It's inevitable in the day-to-day decisions we make regarding the transmission from Wimbledon that we won't please everyone!

If we choose to overrun our pre-arranged transmission schedule to stay with a match we upset the non-sport audience and similarly if we cut away at a crucial point we upset our tennis fans.

It's often a close judgement call on the day. We will try to go with what we believe the majority of our audience would want.

Lots of factors affect our decisions, it depends who is on court, when the match will finish, if it will finish that night etc and also the billed programmes that would be replaced or delayed.

We hope you enjoy the rest of our coverage - here's hoping for two great finals.


  • Comment number 1.

    The Wimbledon coverage is a relished highlight of the year..

    BUT... those pre-match locker-room questions don't work.

    Why not ? Because those currently fashionable 'How...?' questions are lazy-minded, inane, self-defeating, going nowhere, and embarrassing to all parties...

    'How confident are you of winning ? How well prepared are you ? How do you rate your opponent ?
    How pleased are you that you won ?' 'Er...'

    Either cut those squirmy interviews, or find some way of making them useful... which I doubt.. enough to film their entrance, and let us (and they, poor things) enjoy...

  • Comment number 2.

    I have to agree. The post and pre-match interviews aren't good. They add nothing to the coverage other than an uncomfortable feeling as you watch the interviewer struggle to come up with another directionless question and the interviewee grumpily answering with the usual stock sentences and monotony. Pointless.

  • Comment number 3.

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

  • Comment number 4.

    I cant understand why Today at Wimbers is at 8pm, some of us dont have BBCi in every room of the house and restricted to watching the live Tennis on Internet isnt what the BBC should be doing.
    Why isnt Today at Wimbers on at 11:20?
    Put the live Today at Wimbers on BBCi and then later on got those who want to watch the live tennis untill 9pm.
    I only ask this has some of us wanted to watch the cracker has was Chris Eaton's 1st Round Match on Monday and we had to watch Federer crushing an opponent.
    However, I sat thank you to the BBC for moving Murray's matches to BBC1.
    This shows that the BBC Sport Department does its work, by moving it to the bigger audience channel, however why didnt the Sport department ask the News to move to BBC2 at 6 during the Murray-Nadal 4th Round match??
    Surely a deal could have been seen?

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm not really a massive tennis fan, but I've enjoyed watching your coverage. I can't say the commentators have really offered much of interest, during the matches at least. Being able to watch online has been great though and has worked really smoothly.

    Image quality could do with improving a bit, the ball can sometimes disappear in the image compression. I imagine this in on the cards at some point...

    Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 6.

    I used to love watching the tennis, especially Wimbledon, but bored stiff with it all now, there are NO characters left like Connors and McEnroe, yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn

  • Comment number 7.

    More varied camera work please!

    Don't think this has changed for years. More camera views from the perspective of the player receiving serve, to get a real idea of the speed. More shots from player level. Also, on TV with the standard view point, we don't really get an idea of how fast the game is and how hard the players hit the ball. What about an occasional full side view?

  • Comment number 8.

    There was too much of a focus on Andy Murray in post-match interviews with other players coming off court.

    "Well done you won. So what about Andy Murray eh?"

    It says a lot for the manners of the current generation of players that they understood how they were supposed to react and duly obliged.

    Please try and restrain the jingoism, it's disrespectful to the person being interviewed.

  • Comment number 9.

    If you want Today at Wimbledon "as strong and consistent as possible" then I'd have thought scheduling it for 9.30 as in the old days would've been the obvious thing to do. That would be "strong" in that you could include highlights of matches regardless of whether they were played in the evening and "consistent" in that you wouldn't need to keep postponing the programme when live matches over ran [and we've all gone to bed by 11.20 so that's no good!] Chris Eaton's surprise victory was covered in haste at the end of Today at Wimbledon by virtue of the match finishing at 9pm. A later start time would've enabled proper coverage plus interviews.

    So ... please put Today at Wimbledon back to 9.30 next year ...

  • Comment number 10.

    Yeah, put Today at Wimbledon back to 9:30, so that my children, who are avid tennis fans can't watch it as they will be in bed.

    Great idea.

  • Comment number 11.

    I noticed in the first few days that there seemed to be a large number of retirements (five on the first day alone). Is this unusual compared with previous years? If it is, has it something to do with extra pressures of tournament schedules and fitness requirements? is anything being done to lessen the number of injuries?

  • Comment number 12.

    I've watched a lot of the interactive tennis this year -Aussie Open, Roland Garros and now Wimbledon and I'd like to thank the BBC for this.

    A couple of comments. First oddly the Interactive coverage which simply has local court shots and a commentary, does away with the Sue Barker and Andrew Castle ex-player jolly banter. Frankly it is all the better for being so basic. There's the tennis and comment as it happens and that's it. Incidentally Chris Bailey has become a far better commentator and the insights he and Sam Smith offer are informative.

    Second, during the Slams, Indian Wells and end of year Masters and Women's equivalent, I wonder if a "Today at Wimbledon" equivalent could be established to bring us up to date with events. Doubtless there are contractual problems. Incidentally John Inverdale really does do a good job at pulling things together.

    So well done Intercative. It is the quality of play not the studio "analysis" that should be the focus.

  • Comment number 13.

    Thanks for the HD coverage with 5.1 DD sound.

    Please have a review of the use of 5.1 sound levels as the commentators voices can be drowned out by the crowd. I know this is not easy, but it would benifit from more monitoring and even changing levels in response to crowd interactions, ie a responsive sound production..

    I enjoy the sound on Wimbledon and do not want the commentators booming.

    The HD pictures are impressive, but do not match the best I saw during the HD Trial phase. This could be due to your decision to reduce the HD bitrate from 19 to 16Mbps!

  • Comment number 14.

    The post-match interviews don't seem to add anything. Asking other people ad nauseum about Murray is tacky.

    The question to Venus Williams about playing her sister was offensive. As is the talk, as play goes on, about Navratilova finding them intimidating.
    Dementieva shrieks a lot too.
    And Kuznetsova looks more intimdating.

  • Comment number 15.

    Why do the BBC persist with the inane, dull and uninformative pieces from Henman Hill?

    They add nothing to the coverage.

  • Comment number 16.

    Henamn played entertaining tennis matches but as a commentator is bland and dull.

    By comparison, McEnroe is the best sport commentator working today.

    The super slow motion replays have been used too much and sometimes for pointless, inane things.

  • Comment number 17.

    As with every year I am impressed with your coverage. The BBC covers sports like tennis and snooker like the best broadcaster in the world.

    Its because (like Davis and Parrott in snooker) people like Andrew Castle, Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Sue Barker, Tracey Austin and others are extremely articulate and highly skilled commentators. When compared to the commentary/punditry of the likes of Lawrenson, Shearer (football) and Carson, Cochrane (racing), it just makes Barker, McEnroe etc. look even better as ex-players now doing tv. They are rarities.

    I agree with comment 16 that slow-motion replays of silly things like a ball-boy often are too slow and then the serve is sometimes missed.

    Also, why don't you show replays of the ball hitting the line or not using a real camera image as well as hawk-eye? I like hawk-eye but many people will find it more credible if they can see a real image from time-to-time to prove it is correct.

    Today at Wimbledon should be on later in my opinion as many matches haven't finished and this leads to too much rescheduling. The argument about children is not a great one in my opinion because they can watch the actual matches when they are on live and Sue Barker always shows highlights during the live coverage anyway.

  • Comment number 18.

    As a big tennis fan, I would like to thank the BBC for their excellent coverage of Wimbledon once again.

    I have to say that the only thing that has detracted from the coverage for me is the year after year constant worshipping of Tim Henman, which seems to have continued even now he is retired and in the commentary box. Don't get me wrong, he has a great Wimbledon record and deserves praise for that, but I always felt this was overhyped when he was playing and we continue to be constantly reminded of his matches during his punditry and commentary. In addition he seems to be placed on most of the big matches (ie Murray matches, mens semis and most probably the final no doubt) when he is still inexperienced and without wanting to soundtoo harsh is rather bland

    By contrast, I always felt that Greg Rusedski was undervaluded during his playing days and it appears to be the same now as a commentator for Wimbledon. I have been pleasantly surprised by his commentary over the last two years, but he rarely seems to be given a chance on the really big matches. He offers a good insight into the mind of the player, is enthusiastic and even throws in a bit of humour. A key example was the Ancic v Ferrer match last Friday. Based on this, maybe he can be given more of a chance for the bigger matches next year rather than continually forcing Henman upon us.

  • Comment number 19.

    Please tell the commentators currently covering the Nadal-Schuettler semifinal that it was not Gary Player who said "the more I practise, the luckier I get": it was Arnold Palmer (I remember him saying it!).


  • Comment number 20.

    Is/are the BBC just a little too star-struck ? Tennis commentators should be tennis lovers -- appreciative, impartial; not always praising the abilities of the winner (which ex-champions do particularly..) but praising the good shots of the (sometimes manifest) loser..

    Schuettler got very little praise for his second set fight-back. I think the old-time commentators would have been more generous to him..

    I don't want to sound fuddy-duddy about this -- but don't you think our traditionally 'fair play' and 'good shot Sir!' Britain is getting a little obsessed with winners and a little ungenerous to losers ?

    The 'loser' then, can be the love of the game ?

  • Comment number 21.

    As a viewer with a fairly good knowledge of tennis I sometimes wonder why we need commentators. I find myself pressing the "mute" button when commentators like McEnroe are informing us about something that is so obvious, like what the score is and who has break points etc. Unable to watch the BBC broadcast, I have not had the opportunity to listen to Henman's first foray into the commentating business, but my sister in England tells me that McEnroe dominates the talk, as he did on the court, with his childish displays of temper that detracted so much from his brilliance as a player.

    As for the interviews, spare me from their irrelevence, and the stupid questions so often repeated as players shuttle in to the press room. My favorite stupid question: "What went through your mind as you faced match point?" I am waiting for some player to reply "I thought I had better win the next point or I would be on my way home".

  • Comment number 22.

    I completely agree with brummymike (18).

    Although I like Tim Henman and was a huge fan of his throughout his career, I 'm not a fan of his commentary/punditary. He seems uncomfortable at times and it gives off awkward moments.

    Greg Rusedski on the other hand does a really great job on the BBC Tennis Team, and I believe he is not used enough as he should be. He gives a great insight when on commentary.

    Anyway, really impressed with the BBC Coverage of Wimbledon this year, nice work.

  • Comment number 23.

    Much as I like John Inverdale, can nothing be done about his annoying habit of referring to matches as 'games'? - eg 'Murray played a great game today'. You don't have to know much about tennis to know that games are part of sets and matches, so it's confusing aswell as irritating. It seems to be spreading too - in tonight's Today At Wimbledon one of the reports mentioned that due to the weather backlog, 112 games were played on the second Friday last year, but only 26 today. Presumably that's meant to be matches but we can't be sure. It's diminishing the BBC's great coverage and makes you look a bit daft, to be honest. Please stop!!

  • Comment number 24.

    I am obviously not the only viewer who has been frustrated this year by the constant chopping and changing of the channels, mid way through matches.
    Luckily, we have had a better year weather wise, but, in other years if a match had been replayed, during periods of " rain stopped Play" it has always had an"R" showing in the right hand corner, this year, a message occasionally ran along the bottom, stating that the match was being replayed, but, at times was very confusing.

  • Comment number 25.

    Not a question Paul but I just want to make some comments on some of your commentary team.

    I have been dissapointed that John Lloyd has been demoted down the pecking order for Tim Henman. Tim is a good signing but you should mix things up a bit, John Lloyd should have covered more than one Murray match especially as that was only because Tim lost his voice.

    John Lloyd has been commentating for the BBC for about 6-7 years now I think and is one of the best you use.

    I also agree with mike that Greg Rusedski is an excellent commentator. And I wish you could use Mark Cox on more of the bigger matches, I really enjoyed it when he took over from Barry Davies on the men's doubles match late on Thursday night.

  • Comment number 26.

    Why, when it's been known for almost 24 hours that Laura Robson will be in the girls final, can I find nowhere on as to whether and when the match will be broadcast?

    Given the coverage which has (perhaps rightly) been afforded her, and the knowledge that she'll play on Court 1, it's frustrating that the BBC isn't clearly stating when and where we can see the match.

    It's bound to be a more interesting match than the Williams sisters blasting balls at each other....

  • Comment number 27.

    Hi Diem,

    You'll be pleased to know that the Girl's Singles Final at Wimbledon will be streamed online and via the red button.

    The game is scheduled as the second match on court one. I would expect it to be on network as long as the Women's Final is finished in time.

    Hope this helps,


  • Comment number 28.

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

  • Comment number 29.

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

  • Comment number 30.

    Please could you tell me what the piece of music used was when this afternoon you went through how the Williams Sisters had got to the final at this years Wimbledon. It was quite upbeat and ive heard it used before today during the BBC Wimbledon coverage. Thanks

  • Comment number 31.

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

  • Comment number 32.

    nathanjones495 - if you make your music request here:

    We'll do our best to find out for you.


  • Comment number 33.

    Tennis aside, may I say hello to brummymike as an ex-Brummie who has lived in Florida since 1957. I am having fun blogging on the BBC, both in sports and in Justin Webb's column, and find that the comments of my former countrymen and women provide much interest to this old WWII Royal Navy veteran.

    As for tennis, I wonder what are the odds on sisters playing for the title at Wimbledon, and more than once at that! I thought Venus looked the stronger from the outset, and picked her to win.

  • Comment number 34.

    I know that Paul is more of a tv man, but I couldn't find anywhere more appropriate to post this comment.

    Today's the last day of Wimbledon - I'm exclusively a Radio listener.

    The standard of this year's radio commentary and summary has been truly outstanding. I know that many people probably think that they could do a decent commentary job but tennis must be *the* most difficult radio sports commentary job by a mile.

    Five Live Sports Extra is a real boon to digital radio listeners - it would be nice to have extra channels for, say, simultaneous live commentary on different games - I'm sure that will come in time.

    Without exception, the team were truly outstanding - different styles of summarising, but all excellent and incisive. Torango and Cash were great value. I was surprised at how good Claire Balding was.

    Thanks for such excellent coverage.

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    I trust the BBC realises not everyone is happy with the schedule being disrupted for sport! Wimbledon is not a matter of national security - it is simply a sport. If the BBC wants to show it ad infinitum, schedule it ad infinitum. At least we will then all know where we stand. Disruption has been rife this year. The comment by the BBC (above) that they know it is an irritant to some people does not hold water. It has been going on for years - and no-one ever does anything about it.

    All those of us (and there are many) who don't want to watch sport ask is that the schedules remain as they are originally planned. And we do also pay the wages of the BBC staff.

    So who are these arbitors who decide it is OK to change the schedules/channels at a moments notice?

    Why not just have a sport channel?

  • Comment number 37.

    What was the fabulous violin music used for the Federer v. Nadal match preview? Thanks!

  • Comment number 38.

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

  • Comment number 39.

    I don't know if I'm the only person who suffers from this, but I find it can be very confusing that the scoreboard disappears from the screen the precise moment the point is scored, and hence the precise moment it is useful to know which player won the point on those occasions that you didn't see if the ball was in or not, can't judge from the audience/player reaction and possibly also have forgotten who's served. Can't think of any reason for it.

  • Comment number 40.

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

  • Comment number 41.

    A huge thank-you to the bbc for a magnificent Wimbledon coverage. It would be great if summer sports could take the lead headlines during our all too brief summer season (apart from the tennis fortnight) instead of endless football tittle-tattle. One gripe about the coverage, however, and this is particularly disappointing for such a well researched organisation : you suddenly seemed to allow in a lot of Serbians in, seemingly out of nowhere. Jock-kevitch we all know about, but what about Joe-kevitch and even Joy-kevitch. And is it Tip-SAR-evitch or Tipsa-RAY-vitch? Surely commentators are primed beforehand.
    I think it is impolite to these players not to at least get a fair approximation of how THEY say their names.

  • Comment number 42.

    Why were part-time commentator Andrew Castle (who as far as I know only does it during Wimbledon) and first-time commentator Tim Henman chosen to commentate on the Men's Final? And why were only 2 commentators used when you normally have 3 for big matches?

  • Comment number 43.

    Firstly, Roger could easily have won and I do wish you would lay off the guy but you aren't the only ones.
    I was wondering if/when you will show the full series of Roger Federer films.

  • Comment number 44.

    The BBC coverage of Wimbledon has as usual been excellent except for the Final. I cannot believe that Tim Henman and Andrew Castle were used. This event calls for presenters of seniority and experience who can give well informed comments and not talk over critical points with inane chat. We even had to miss out on post match analysis apart from a brief chat with Boris Becker (a superb example of someone qualified to comment) in the later programme.

    Did I miss it or was your access to 'hawkeye' restricted to times when challenges were made?


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