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Boat Race returning to the BBC

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Roger Mosey | 08:25 UK time, Thursday, 19 March 2009

As a child growing up in Yorkshire in the 1960s, the Boat Race was one of the sporting landmarks. We'd gather round the black-and-white TV set on a Saturday afternoon for the events that mark the rhythm of the year; and alongside the Boat Race in our family's priorities were the Grand National, Wimbledon, the FA Cup Final and the Rugby League Cup Final - before Sports Personality signalled that Christmas was just around the corner.

We had no university connections then. But that race between dark blue and light blue - or different shades of grey as they were in the Sixties - was something that hooked not just us but millions across the country.

That's still true today. Some sports rise, others fall - but the Boat Race still grabs mass audiences despite changing tastes and fragmenting media habits. The last time it was on the BBC it was watched by a peak of almost 9 million; and during the ITV contract it attracted getting on for 8 million on its most recent outing.

The BBC last transmitted the Boat Race in 2004. To lose it was painful for us because it's one of the British sporting institutions and we'd been covering it for 66 years - but we also recognise that sometimes major events come and sometimes they go, while there are also new developments such as the way the London Marathon has earned itself a place on the top table.

The crews prepare for the 2009 Boat Race

Well, now the Boat Race is coming back to us. ITV had decided it wasn't able to cover the event in future, so we were delighted to step in; and we should thank them for keeping audiences healthy and for good production values in their coverage.

What we're announcing today is a new five-year deal that will see the race return to BBC One from April 2010 along with online streaming on this website and our full range of audio services. Our commitment is simple: we want to respect and celebrate the traditions of the race, but also win over new generations of viewers.

I know there'll be people who question the relevance of a rowing event between two ancient universities, but most UK audiences take a broader view. It's an epic sporting contest, and one in which the participants push themselves to the limit - with ambitious outside broadcasts able to capture the pressure of every stroke. More than that, it's an event at the heart of our capital and Olympic city: something that brings tens of thousands onto the Thames towpaths, and that's followed worldwide too.

So we'll be following this year's race at the end of this month with even more interest than usual - before we take to the water ourselves again next year.


  • Comment number 1.

    I really don't understand what interest this race is of to anyone who didn't/doesn't go to Oxford or Cambridge. I do think this money could have been better spent elsewhere.

  • Comment number 2.

    Does this mean the BBC rowing pages might get updated? You'd think no rowing had actually happened since the Olympics.

    And who will be doing the commentry? It would be a challenge to be worse then Peter 'They are all going to sink' Drury.

  • Comment number 3.

    I wouldn't have known the BBC weren't covering the Boat Race for the last few years if this article hadn't been posted. The money would have been better spent on taking some live FA Cup, International or Premier League football coverage away from setanta.

  • Comment number 4.

    Great-the big none event that is the boat race coming back to the BBC-

  • Comment number 5.

    yippee, the boat race is back on the cricket, very little live football, no boxing, virtually nothing of interest comes out of bbc sport these days, but at least they're raiding the licence fee to broadcast a bunch of toffs in boats.

  • Comment number 6.

    Can we avoid an ITV bashing session? Let's be honest, ITV over the first couple of years treated it with a great deal of respect. They improved the quality of onboard coverage, they improved the pre-match 'focus articles' including coverage of the crews training, crews preparation and having embedded reporters. They did a great deal of good for the race when on occasion the BBC were wedging it in between the rugby and the horse racing.

    Nonetheless, it's good you've got it back Roger. Who are you going to get to present it? Someone with the gravitas it deserves?

  • Comment number 7.

    The boat race remains one of the few great free sporting spectacles in the UK. For that reason alone, the BBC feels like the right place for it. It's a sport Britain excels at, but more than that, one of the toughest tests of athleticism.

    For me, like Roger, the BBC coverage was a feature of my childhood, growing up in Northern Ireland. At university, I took up rowing and realised what a fabulous sport it is, demanding immense dedication, great levels of fitness, and precise technique. For the participants, few sports can touch it.

    I hope the BBC coverage will let non-rowers gain a sense of the fitness, dedication and abaility of the crews - for me what makes it great to watch is knowing what the rowers have gone through to get there, and carefully watching their technique, to see which crew is on top, and which is flagging.

    In recent years, we've been lucky enough to own a flat by the second corner of the race, near Hammersmith Bridge. Although the flat is now let to a friend, he's continuing our tradition of a boat race barbecue this year. We'll go down to the river in time to get a good spot, watch the boats pass, along with the other 'locals' we'll decide which crew has the upper hand, and then we'll rush back home just in time to see the finish on television.

  • Comment number 8.

    I quite like watching the boat race, but in what way is this 'news' worthy of top billing on a sports website? IMHO it is big news only for those who work at the BBC.

  • Comment number 9.

    Despite having been to Oxford and being really proud of our rowers' achievements over the past few years or so, I still feel that the Boat Race is one of the most elitist sporting events here in Britain. I know it is traditional, but it is the ultimate symbol of the bubble that Oxford and Cambridge live in while the rest of the world has moved on to the 21st century. I think it would be more interesting if it was opened up to more UK universities with a league system concluding with the final along the Thames. Then I would go absolutely nuts for rowing. Serious reform is needed and there is no better time to do it than now.

  • Comment number 10.

    Can all those complaining about this please pay my licence fee for me, as they clearly think the BBC is for them and not me? Thank you.

    As for ITV - they did a very good job, but the BBC have the advantage that they don't have to break for adverts. One thing ITV didn't do that the BBC used to was mention the women's boat race.

  • Comment number 11.

    Cant wait to see the BBC bring back a touch of qualiity to this event. bless ITV for having a go, but it didnt sit well with the low rent ITV schedule of Jeremy Kyle & Co.
    There was aomething about the boat race chock full of adverts that stopped it becomming "must see" in our house.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think ITV were smart to stop funding/televising this. They are commercial entity who have a bottom-line to protect, unlike the BBC which is a bottom-less pit of money from the TV tax. All it is a 20 minute non-event every April and all I ever found it useful for was that the day after the race was when the clocks went forward. Who cares about the Boat Race? Roger, Roger you just go ahead and waste more of the TV tax. How I look forward to the day when the BBC will not be paid for by me...I can dream can't I?

  • Comment number 13.

    What's with the first five posters? Surely one of the greatest free sporting events in the UK (Met Police suggest between 250,000 and 500,000 come down to the river to watch the race) and one of the last great amateur events in the UK should be broadcast?

    Sure, some of the rowers are thought to be ringers, but the point is that they do it for the love of the sport, not £30k a week. It's not as if the losers get anything.

    Roger - don't let these spoil sports put you off.

  • Comment number 14.

    So, one hours coverage of the Boat race mmmm... give me some quality National Hunt Racing anyday.....

  • Comment number 15.

    Really don't see the point, every year one of two teams win. Isn't it about time they got rid of...............the Scottish Premier League.

    Good news about the boat race though! Good to see all the 'jewels in the crown' back on the beeb while obscure minority sports like test match cricket are tucked away where we can't watch them. Seriously, is this really worthy of being a main sports story which is featured on the front page?

  • Comment number 16.

    how very dull...a non-event.

  • Comment number 17.

    Well said 4 & 5. What a complete non event this is and assuming they have to pay to cover it a waster of money. Whilst I appreciate the rowing in Olympics (as with most sports) because it is the pinnacle, this is not that. What a waste of the licence fee payers money added to the vastly inflated sum that BBC pays for Wimbledon (no-one will watch it if it is on another channel so therefore they should down the price, not up).

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    I cannot believe this. Why is the boat race even important anyone outside of the Universities or their Alumnists. What about other sports? We already get too much football and cricket on the telly, what about the swimming or athletics (track & field not just the marathons) or better yet a bit of female sport I am quite sure with a fraction of the cost of promoting the F1 (yawn!) the BBC could get us excited about a more worthy sport.

  • Comment number 20.

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

  • Comment number 21.

    'I think it would be more interesting if it was opened up to more UK universities with a league system concluding with the final along the Thames. Then I would go absolutely nuts for rowing. Serious reform is needed and there is no better time to do it than now.'

    Would you really tune into watch say Sheffield University vs Bristol University? No I doubt it. The historic rivalry is what gets the audiences in.

  • Comment number 22.

    I knew this would provoke a somewhat varied response - but the basic point is this. If it were the elitist, irrelevant event that some people claim, nobody would watch it. In fact, it's watched by huge numbers of viewers - most of whom have no connection with Oxford or Cambridge but simply enjoy the event and the competition. It would be odd for the BBC to refuse to cover what so many millions see as a national event.

    We never comment on individual contracts, but our major financial commitments remain to Match Of The Day, the World Cup, Six Nations, Wimbledon, the Olympics and all the rest.

  • Comment number 23.

    It's a shame ITV have decided only football counts as sport now where ITV1 is concerned, but that said I never understood their interest in grabbing the Boat Race rights anyway.

    However, like with most sports the BBC loses it usually leads to an improvement in the coverage, and hence when events return to the BBC there isn't the complacency which inevitably sets in once you've been broadcasting an event for years, if not decades.

    One thing ITV did really well in it's first couple of years wasn't the race itself, but the build up, having the special programmes following how the crews trained and were selected over the months prior to the event. Yes, this sort of thing may have been covered in pre-match features before, but I think when you sell it as a separate preview show people are more likely to watch. If you have too lengthy a build up before the race itself, I suspect a lot of viewers decide not to tune in until the race gets underway.

  • Comment number 24.


    There already is, it's called the Head of the River Race and it is this Saturday.

    I assume you will be there watching?

  • Comment number 25.

    its not elitist as far as im concerned just a big non event.

    just wonder how many people (without looking the answer up) can confidently say who won last year

    there is the proof that its a big waste of time

  • Comment number 26.

    Roger, I think that you'll find that elitism has nothing to do with it. Its just plain boring..Also, try not to confuse popularity with quality.

  • Comment number 27.

    Firstly, I think its great that such extensive coverage of the Boat Race is still supported by the BBC, since it is such a big event for hundreds of thousands of people. The commentators above who complain about the funding that could have gone to FA Cup matches clearly haven't watched the Boat Race - there are more people there than at any live football match!

    As a rower myself (on that stretch of river) I can unreservedly praise the rowers themselves because very few readers will ever do anything so difficult in their lives. As for the toff comment I noticed, half of the rowers I know are not at all toffs and my best friend is from a state school in Huddersfield so that comment is clearly unfounded!

  • Comment number 28.

    Let's be very clear. Lots of us would very much want to see The University of Sheffield stuff Bristol. The after race party would also be much better.

  • Comment number 29.

    Excellent. Sporting events are always much more enjoyable on the BBC, unspoiled by adverts.

    Whilst the Boat Race is an easy target for those with some misguided ideas about the universities and the "class divide" (just look at the percentages of undergraduates from state schools, buckos), as Roger Mosey said the viewing figures speak for themselves and many people enjoy it. Including me.

  • Comment number 30.

    How boring...elite athletes competing in the purest form of sport?
    Let's face it either you enjoy this spectacle or you don't.
    But if you do write it off as a non event, you aren't allowed to have that warm rosey glow when we win our next Olympic medals! And you will remember this post if you cheat!

  • Comment number 31.

    Thanks for the article Roger. As a University student myself, i think it is fantastic to get traditional varsity matches on live terrestrial television - the Loughborough v Bath varsity rugby match is on Sky every year. We are always used to seeing the elite sportsmen on TV (premiership footballers, international rugby players etc) most of whom have problems with discipline.
    Here the BBC will be showing non-elite athletes whose desire to win, and put 100% on the line for their team cannot be underestimated. In days when British tradition is being lost, i think it is great to see this clash of the titans back on the airwaves, and as a sport scientist, it is excellent to have honest, gutsy, all-out sport on view.
    Bring back more sport to the BBC - long may this continue!

  • Comment number 32.

    Great the Boat Race back on the BBC (Only because ITV did not want it) But still good to see. I just hope production values are as good. Perhaps Steve Rider should come back

  • Comment number 33.

    I never watched the Boat Race once when it was on ITV. I may be inclined to watch next year, now that the threat of an ad break occurring two minutes before the start will have been lifted.

  • Comment number 34.

    Roger, a previous post was headed "the biggest events for the largest number of people." I certainly wouldn't class this as one of "the biggest events." The only reasons this gets the coverage it does is a) because of where it is, and b) because so many in the higher echelons of society (including the BBC) went to Oxford or Cambridge. Would you be as interested if it were a race between Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities on the Clyde, for example?

    Normally I'm quite glad when the BBC gets sporting events. This one though is so elitist, that it really annoys me that the BBC even consider bidding. Especially when the teams don't really consist of students any more, and are more like specially brought in rowers to win the race. At least, I suppose, there's only one team from each, unlike University Challenge...

  • Comment number 35.

    Glad to see it back, myself.
    And judging from the viewing figures the race generally pulls in, it's still a real marquee event for a lot of people too.

  • Comment number 36.

    I never went to university, don't have lots of money / come from privileged background and don't have a particular interest in rowing, however, this is a GREAT British event and belongs on the Beeb.

    Some may find it boring, but it's not just about you..... if you don't like it, don't watch it...... I pay for radio 3, never listen to it, but that doesn't bother me, because I gain a lot more from BBC services than I have cause to complain about.

    ...oh and I doubt by refusing to cover this event, the BBC would have the money to cover one Premiership game, let alone a whole 'bundle'.

  • Comment number 37.

    Well done the BBC. A classic sporting event backwhere it belongs. I don't know anything about rowing, and wouldn't watch it at any other time, but just like the big horse races, I always watch it because I love sport. I suspect that an episode of the beloved soap tripe costs more than this single event. If you don't want to watch it, don't.

  • Comment number 38.

    Fantastic news. Always prefer watching sporting events on the BBC, partly because I can't stand ITV and its adverts but also largely because I believe that the BBC is where traditional events like this belong and the best channel for them to be enjoyed around the world on too. ITV did a good job in trying to attract audiences for the event with a lot of advertising and pre-race programmes on training etc, but unfortunately were let down by simple mistakes on race-day itself (their rowing animations/explanations were laughably poor for example).

    Secondly, to all those people attacking the boat race:
    Rowing is a sport which receives very little TV coverage. Occasionally you'll be lucky enough to find World Championships coverage on a Sunday morning, but this is always squeezed in with other sports. Compare this to other minority sports such as swimming, athletics, or even marathon running - all of these sports regularly receive coverage of their own national events. The Boat Race is the only rowing event that gets even close to that level of coverage and anyone even remotely involved with rowing appreciates that immensely - the sport needs this attraction to grow.
    The often-made criticism by those who follow football - that the boat race should be opened up to everyone - is laughable. The sarcastic posts made saying 'uh why is it always the same teams in the final' are simply stupid. This is the same event as, for example, The Ashes - there is no need to open up the event and even if they did I can't see any other boat club entering out of respect for the history of what the race is about. There are hundreds of other rowing races held every year, the largest open races being the Head of the River Race (almost exactly the same event, except with 450 crews racing over the same stretch of river from olympic medalists to novices) and Henley Royal Regatta, both of which are some of the largest sporting events in the UK. It is not their fault, however, that they are not televised, and no one in the rowing world begrudes the Boat Race being what it is and receiving the attention that it does.

  • Comment number 39.

    Yes! Thank you to the BBC for brining this fantastic event back to the BBC. Call rowing a 'toffs' sport all you want, but the undeiable fact is that these guys train harder and longer than the 99.9% of professional athletes out there. And they do it for the sole purpose of winning. Its not about money or fame. Its about glory. The boat race is the ultimate winning is all that counts sport. First place and your name goes down in history. 2nd place is devestational. So glad this back on the BBC and far better than watching any more footballers roling around on the ground (I am a football fan, but these days they are pathetic). Well done BBC!

  • Comment number 40.

    Surely the boat race should be supported by a big package of rowing events (red button would be fine as the skiing has been the last few weeks) as rowing is a sport that is vitally important to the british olympic effort?

    Also, has BBC NI always covered the Schools Cup? I was watching it on the red button (having never watched gaelic football since the halcyon days of early saturday morning "Gaelic Games" on C4 and was riveted - no ronaldo-esque diving, no cipriani-esque swearing in post-match interviews and some great skill on show for 30 odd teenagers.

  • Comment number 41.

    Good to see the BBC pushing the - oh dear - boat out to keep pay-TV's grubby hands off one of British sport's oldest traditions. Now make sure the 2011 Rugby World Cup is on the Beeb, ITV probably won't go near it because of the early kick-off times and we don't want it going to Sky.

  • Comment number 42.

    #27 wrote "there are more people there than at any live football match!"

    How many football stadiums do you know that are 3 miles long and are free to get into when the biggest game of the season is on? Of course there will be more people watching the Boat Race live, but in terms of popularity i bet the TV audience figures for, say the FA Cup Final are massively in excess of the the Floating Toff Race...

  • Comment number 43.

    The event is ridiculous due to the inclusion of former international rowing champions. Look at their rowing CV's and ages!!
    "Students" in their thirties on spurious post graduate courses.
    I thought that, like University Challenge, you actually had to be a student to take part. It is merely a race between two teams of "ringers".
    I genuinely feel sorry for excellent British undergraduate rowers at the O & C colleges who have been bounced out of the boat by American and European national champions. For years I used to cycle along the towpath every year following it, but now I wouldn't even change channels if it was on.

  • Comment number 44.

    congratulations Roger on securing the boat race. at least it is consistent with the BBCs approach of securing the minority sports for the nation, to go along with the cycling, american football, championship football and bowls.

    can't see it is going to bother too many people though whether it is on BBC or ITV.

  • Comment number 45.

    'Whilst I appreciate the rowing in Olympics (as with most sports) because it is the pinnacle, this is not that'
    Um 5/8 Oxford rowers were in the olympics and a handful of medalists in there. The Cambridge crew has rowers that may be in a boat come 2012, and some that have represented the country just not in the olympics. It isn't to many peoples likeing but also surely it can't cost the bbc anything compared to football, cricket, f1 etc ... itis a one day event - lighten up and stop trying to complain about tv liscensing because there is something you dont like on tv. Doesnt deserve necessarily as prominent a position on the sports page though...

  • Comment number 46.

    Further criticisms I fail to understand:

    Either the Boat Race is full of 'toffs' who will be future stuck-up Tory politicians.
    It is full of foreign ringers who aren't proper students and are brought in to do the race.

    The truth is, in fact, neither: The Blue boats will almost never contain rowers who have started rowing at university. It would be almost impossible these days to start rowing in your undergrad fresher year and hope to make the blue boat within 3 years. The standard of rowing is far too high.
    The oarsmen therefore needed to either row before university, say at school or a local club, or need to be on a postgrad course. Either way, the fact is you need prior experience - and what exactly is wrong with that? There are no ringers, it is true some may be doing 'easier' courses, but then honestly can you really call any course at Oxbridge easy? Doing any sort of second batchelors course, a masters course or even a Doctorate is never easy, and they need to juggle these courses while training 5 or more hours a day (one 6am gym session followed by 2 water sessions each and every afternoon).
    Find me any other full-time sportsman in the world of football, cricket etc who is willing to show that level of committment!

  • Comment number 47.

    Why is it always the same two teams every year?

  • Comment number 48.

    It's sad to see some many cynical comments. The boat race is held in high regards across the world from everyone who has had or not had a higher education, let alone at Oxbridge.

  • Comment number 49.

    The Boat Race was, until fairly recently, one of England's nobler, tradtional sporting contests. For me though, the increasing numbers of crew members, sporting various European, World titles or Olympic medals, has taken the gloss off it.

    I'll check out the crews before deciding on whether to watch the race this year.

  • Comment number 50.

    Why do you think? What an idiotic question.
    Hint: Read my earlier post, #38.

  • Comment number 51.

    When I was at college our JCR had to fork out large sums of money to keep the boat club afloat (ahem). Glad to see the tradition of the majority paying for a minority is continuing!

  • Comment number 52.

    Great to see the Boat Race back on the BBC.

    The Boat Race, as Roger points out, is one of the great sporting events held in this country every year.

    Those that are slatting this type of programming clearly have no idea that the BBC exists for all tastes. I don't enjoy Lark Rise to Candleford or Antiques Roadshow but do not complain.

    And to suggest that the boat race only matters amongst universities is absurd. I grew up in Oxford and the rivalry goes far beyond the gown side of the city.

  • Comment number 53.

    I'm sure that the best BBC sports presenter John Inverdale will be picked to present alongside Sir Steve Redgrave and Matt Pinsent.

    The commentatry will be interesting, will it be Barry Davies like it used to be or Garry Herbert? I'm happy with either but would just pick Baryr Davies.

  • Comment number 54.

    Hi Roger,

    Great to see the Boat Race coming back to the BBC next year. I'm in total agreement that despite the perceived class of people who take part in it, this is one of the traditional highlights of the sporting calendar.

    The best part of 10 million people watch it on the telly for goodness sake, that's on a par with a decent Champions League match on ITV and pretty good for a so-called non-event. I can still feel the excitement in Barry Davies' commentary on the 2004 race when it literally came down to the final strokes.

    As for those who call the competitors 'toffs' in this blog, not only is that rather insulting it just shows what little respect they have for those guys who push themselves to the limit during the race and in training.

    Good on you Roger for getting it back!!

  • Comment number 55.

    Really good news as far as I'm concerned.
    In response to comment number 42 about viewing figures:
    If the peaks that Roger refered to in his article are correct, then those numbers are higher than the peaks of the vast, vast majority of FA Cup matches. Yes, the final will probably rate higher - but a peak of 8 or 9 million viewers, if I'm not mistaken, is for instance, higher than any Six Nations match so far this year.
    Not too shabby for a supposed 'toff' event that no-one cares about...
    The Boat Race, along with the Grand National and perhaps Wimbledon, are part of a very unique tradition where smaller, often forgotten about sports get their moment in the spotlight. And I for one, am glad that tradition is set to continue.

  • Comment number 56.

    Thank you Roger for bringing the Crown Jewel back to the BBC.
    Those who said the moeny should be spend on Test Cricket and the FA can the BBC get that? The amount spend on this wouldnt even get an FA Cup game let alone one session of Test Cricket.
    Plus the FA Cup/England Games are on Setanta/ITV untill 2012 and Test Cricket is on Sky now until 2016!
    ITV did a great job showing it however they did overkill on the adverts but what was going to pay for it??
    Im sure Gabby Logan or John Inverdale will cover it along with Sir Steve Redgrave and the bloke who did the Olympic Rowning Commentary...he would be great!

  • Comment number 57.

    Great news, and thanks for the post Roger.

    It may only be a 17-minute race down the river on one weekend of the year, but it is one of those sporting events that whether you have any connection with either university or not you grew up watching and you always supported either light or dark blue.

    I identify with everything that you say Roger in your opening two paragraphs. It is a great event. ITV may have announced that they did not want it anymore, but it's got to be good news that it's come back to the Beeb.

  • Comment number 58.

    You've got F1 back.
    You've got the Boat Race.

    Bring back Steve Rider.

  • Comment number 59.

    Roger, I know you cannot comment on rights issues under discussion at present... but, can you say whather or not you are hoping to have more to say on rights issues before you move to your new post at Easter?

  • Comment number 60.

    That is excellent news, that the BBC will be providing Boat Racing to the audiences...
    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 61.

    but it is one of those sporting events that whether you have any connection with either university or not you grew up watching and you always supported either light or dark blue.


    Don't presume to speak for everyone because you are wrong, 99% f people in the UK dont care about the boat race.

    I have no problem with the beeb coving it but please, can we put things in perspective here, we do not need 90 minutes of proramming, a dozen interviewers nd 36 camera positions for this.

    The suggestion of 8 or 9 million viewers is complete farce. Please remember how these figures are estimated, on the back of a few thousand homes who are being recorded, not on the majority of us.

  • Comment number 62.


    Could I ask about recording off the Red Button. Is it a Sky thing or a BBC thing not to have Red Button listings in the Sky Programme Guide? It irritates me that with so much brilliant programming on the Red Button, I can't record it onto my Sky+ box.

    How can I record programmes off the Red Button (preferably without video tapes as my stock is running low)? Thanks.

  • Comment number 63.

    Interesting juxtaposition suggesting that I thought I was trying to speak for everyone in my previous post, and then saying that 99% of people aren't interested in the race, but I take your point.

    All I was trying to do was echo the sentiments of many who have contributed, saying that I think it's a great sporting event, even though I have no connection with either university. If the report I read today is true and the BBC has picked up the event's rights for nothing, then this really is a welcome addition to the BBC portfolio.

  • Comment number 64.

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

  • Comment number 65.

    Congratulations. May I suggest Nick Mullins as your main commentator. I think he did one of your last broadcasts of the Boat Race on 5Live and it was brilliant - really captured the entire event and filled 20 minutes of airtime effortlessly. And then you could get back the guy who did your Beijing Olympic sailing coverage and have him bouncing around in a launch. And maybe Claire Balding topping and tailing it.

    Will your radio and tv commentary launches still fly flags like they did before? The tv one in particular was a vintage example, with what looked like a 1960s BBC tv logo. (And do these flags ever get used anywhere else?) I assume the television and radio launches also toss for stations as in the past?

  • Comment number 66.

    If you want a quality Boat Race commentator, it's all about Barry Davies. After your horrendous treatment of him with regards the Opening & Closing Ceremonies at the Olympics last year, where you got a second rate newsreader in, ensure you don't mess it up again with this prestige event.

  • Comment number 67.

    Mr Mosely what a pathetic waste of public money.

  • Comment number 68.

    @Jordan D: I'm sorry, but I think Davies might be past it for the Boat Race now. He's still a very good commentator but his last few races were very similar. Maybe the break will have freshened him though.
    I guess Topolski would be alongside; I like his work at the Oympics and he is useful for spotting when a crew is doing something tactical, but he does come across as a bit too biased.
    What we've all missed is that Pinsent is now trained up as a host and I guess would be the obvious choice for this.

  • Comment number 69.

    "Mr Mosely what a pathetic waste of public money"

    In your view ofcourse...and maybe the Boat Race is not that popular in reality but trouble is there will be people complaining about whatever the BBC/Sky and ITV show so how much can these compaines please everyone?

  • Comment number 70.

    I'm very happy that the Boat Race is back with the BBC as it will also give rowing fans outside the UK such as myself an opportunity to watch it (BBC is broadcasted in many more countries than ITV).

    About the people complaining about the use of public money: this is *precisely* what the function of a public broadcaster like the BBC is: giving exposure to sports that would otherwise not get any because they do not cater to the lowest-common-denominator that commercial broadcasters focus on.

  • Comment number 71.

    Thanks for the most recent comments. We'll now look forward to taking on the challenge of coverage in a year's time.

  • Comment number 72.

    In response to post 9:

    What would be the point? OUBC and CUBC are an absolute league ahead of any other uni crew in the country. This year Cambridge (who lets not forget were absolutely shoed by Oxford in both the boat race and the reserves) turned up to British Uni Championships and horizoned everyone with a scratch, b-string crew containing none of the internationals. I myself attended a top british rowing uni and dont remember favourably the mauling I received the one and only time I ever got to match race a full boat race crew.

    As for those moaning that its elitist? How so? Do you actually know anything about the athletes in the modern day boat race? Theyre not exactly all old-etonians like the crews of the early 20th century. Times have moved on, and now these are multi-national, mixed-class crews who are amongst the fastest crews in the world. Theyre certainly not all 'toffs in a boat' as one reply suggests.

    Regardless, if youre not happy about the BBC regaining the contract for the Boat Race, then dont watch the coverage. Its only one 2 hour show a year for god sake. I personally hate non stop international football on the tv - so i dont watch it. Thats a lot harder to dodge than the BR, but I certainly wont begrudge those who think its wonderful that its all televised.

    Well done BBC for regaining one of our oldest, proudest sporting traditions. Now just dont mess it up by letting Topolski commentate.

  • Comment number 73.

    Re post 42:

    6.6 million watched the FA cup final

    8.5 million watched the boat race.

    That was easy to find on google :)

  • Comment number 74.

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


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