Here comes Legard… On a charge. What can he do? It’s not good enough.

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Here's Legard. On a charge. Still Pushing. Still just saying what he sees. Still failing to read a race. Still...

So, due to the volcanic ash cloud covering most of Europe, Eddie Jordan found himself unable to attend the Chinese Grand Prix last week. A collective sigh of relief greeted the news that we would be granted a welcome break from David Coulthard and EJ squabbling like attention-seeking children for one race.

But for all his faults, EJ does at least know his racing onions (well, most of the time) and he does have some redeeming features, most of which are to be found hanging up in his wardrobe. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Jonathan Legard, who, if I had control over Mother Nature, I would ensure was dealt his very own special volcanic eruption that grounded him and him alone, each and every single race.

Here is a man who grinds my gears like you couldn’t possibly comprehend. In fact, I don’t think it’s healthy how much I seem to loathe the bloke, and I should probably go get myself checked out at some point. I mean, it’s not like he’s killed my dog or is an evil tyrant or something. But he does have this uncanny ability to turn the annoying factor up to 11 with very little effort.

After his first stint in the commentary box last year, I thought he deserved at least another crack at it, a chance to up his game and make a vast improvement. Yet, four races into the season and it doesn’t look like he’s discovered what self-criticism is, nor has he stumbled upon the constant sniping from a horde of F1 fans online (just go to Google and type in ‘Jonathan Legard’ and see what the search engine will return as the most popular suggestions…).

The whole point of commentary is to both entertain and to inform the viewer, both of which Legard is quite clearly incapable of. Unlike his co-commentator Martin Brundle, who, due to Legard’s staccato style is almost always on the back foot, never really knowing when to jump in. After 21 races that have been called by the duo, it still flows rather awkwardly.

Quite clearly the chemistry between the two is still lacking and they’ve yet to gel properly. But I kind of feel sorry for Brundle. Climbing the steps to the commentary box, like a condemned man to the gallows, knowing he is about to endure two hours of being stood next to Legard, in a stuttering cycle of cliché and dead air. It would be enough to suck the life out of almost anyone and probably explains why he appears to be lacking any enthusiasm for F1 these days, and seems a sorry shadow of his former, chirpier, self.

Legard is having a similar effect on me as well while sat in my armchair at home. His complete inability to read a race, to give comment on what is transpiring, to react, to anticipate, to communicate any sense of drama, to connect with a sport or its audience on any level… Seriously, listen to him closely at the next race in Spain. The race doesn’t even need to reach the third turn before he is completely out of his depth and Brundle needs to start bailing him out as usual.

He seems to believe that a barrage of statistics more than makes up for any insight or charisma and offers a tedious, frustrating, stream of nothingness. We don’t want to hear you prattle on about what some bod from Bridgestone was telling you over dinner when we’re on board with Lewis Hamilton as he’s fighting to make a pass on Mark Webber for example.

Then there’s the whole “there he goes, what can he do” stock phrase business, which not only makes for a great drinking game, but also reeks of a complete lack of passion and insight and I think we deserve more.

Now I bet at this point some of you are questioning why I continue to listen to Captain Obvious when I could easily press the red button and listen to the alternative BBC Five Live commentary feed?

Well I would, were it not for the BBC in their infinite wisdom reducing their Freeview red button bandwidth by half this year to make way for their high definition output (the modern-day equivalent of quilted toilet paper – you want it, but don’t really know why).

So instead of being able to listen to the banter-filled, insightful, charismatic commentary from David Croft and Anthony Davidson (who are too good for radio), I’m instead offered the stupefyingly dull on-board footage.

Yes, I know I could listen to it on the old fashioned wireless, but the medium wave frequency has as much clarity as a muddy puddle, plus it’s horribly out-of-sync with the action so that’s a complete non-starter. I also refuse to line Rupert Murdoch’s wallet by tacking a satellite dish on to the side of my abode and subscribing to Sky.

So thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded, I can like it or lump it. I mean, don’t try and bother them as you’ll be wasting your time. They don’t want to listen, pretty much like I don’t want to listen to Legard in fact. Send them an Email to complain, and like an episode of Points of View, you’ll be served a condescending response explaining why you are wrong, and they are right.

In which case, I would like to make a bet right now. I’m led to believe that the BBC’s F1 production is up for tender towards the end of the year, and when someone does make a bid, let’s see how many include Legard in their plans. BBC Sport might want ‘one of theirs’ in the chair, but I’m pretty positive that no-one else does.

So step aside Carlton Kirby, it seems we have a new heir to the ‘Worst Commentator in Motorsport’ throne. All hail Jonathan Legard!

15 Comments

  1. I agree too. I actually think Legard has improved slightly since 2009, but he’s still pretty crap. And I know some people go on about how he should keep his job because he’s such a nice guy, but unfortuantely that’s irrelevant- he’s a bad commentator.

    What annoys me is that the BBC already employ a far better commentator in David Croft. Why the heck can’t they just swap the pair around or something?!

    • I heard that as well, but I find it difficult to believe he had the power over who would become the main commentator. If there is any truth in it, then I wonder what it is Brundle’s got against Crofty?

      Toby Moody was available, but he’s not a BBC insider, and Ben Edwards (my choice) was also available, but silly restrictions were applied and killed off any chance he had.

  2. He really does seem to know nothing about F1. What annoys me is has nothing good to say so he seems to just read out lap times. He’s obsessed with lap times, constantly reading to see who has set a quicker lap even if he it means nothing in regards to the race.

    He also loves to turn on Lewis Hamilton whenever something goes wrong, when he’s brilliant he’s all “Gotta love Lewis Hamilton, he is brilliant” but when he does badly he turns on him and loves to take a dig at him.

    His catchphrases are the worst though, they are so annoying and it’s all just “What about ” “Is this going to be good enough” It adds nothing to the commentary at all.

  3. I can just about put up with him during the race as I seem to have managed to completely switch him off in my head when he speaks, apart that is from when he shouts. And boy does he shout, especially when Lewis Hamilton is involved. I start to think oh, what’s happening only for it to be some minor little incident hardly woth bothering about. But what really annoys me is that he always does the crossing the line thing, several decibels louder than needs be. Please give Martin (and us) a break).

    LOL at TommyB’s comment above, the typed phrase “Is this going to be good enough” makes me hear him saying it in my head…argh!!!

  4. It could be worse. In Australia F1 is shown on a freeview channel called One. It’s a sport only channel. Anyway they use the BBC feed, complete with Legard and Brundle commentary, but they insert ads, and before and after each ad they turn off the Legard and Brundle commentary in favour for some local commentary, compliments of 3 dudes called Greg Rust, Daryl Beattie, and Craig Baird. Greg Rust is okay, and Craig Baird isn’t too bad, as he seems to have raced most of the circuits in different types of GT cars; however Daryl Beattie is former 500cc motorcycle Grand Prix rider, and all he ever seems to talk about is tyres. Argh! I’m sure he is a nice guy, but maybe they should keep him for the Moto GP coverage and bring someone else in for the F1.

    But the worse part isn’t their commentary, it’s the timing, more often than not it’ll get to about lap 12, 13, 14, 15, and the local commentary will kick in, and they’ll say something like, “looks like they are about to ready for some pit stops, we’ll just take a quick break”, then they come back from the ads and you’ve missed all the pit stops and positions have changed, and you have no idea what is happening.

    So yeah it could be worse.

  5. I concur with the author completely. Anthony Davidson would make a far better replacement and failing him then Crofty. We must continue to bombard the BBC with complaints about Legard. Perhaps a petition to get him replaced is in order.

    Legard’s only accolade is that he fits well into the loathsome and despised commentator category that Murray Walker and James Allen inhabited…

    • Can’t really see the Davidson and Brundle combination working as the two are too alike.

      And, thought I’d never say it, but I think in hindsight I preferred James Allen…

  6. I agree that the 5live feed is far superior, but I also find it annoying having sound and picture out of sync. I used it in Greece where the commentators are even more annoying than Legard, and it was brilliant.

  7. Allen wasn’t really that bad, save that he felt the need to imitate Murray Walker’s excitable spaniel ravings. Not keen on Legard (though to be fair he does seem to have escaped from the shadow of Murray), but I’d far rather have him in the booth than Carlton Kirby.

    • Although a bit irritating at times, in hindsight, I do genuinely believe that James Allen should have been considered for the commentary gig.

      Allen was lambasted for being patriotic and biased towards Hamilton and Button, yet I believe this came from high up in the ITV F1 production team. In a time when they struck gold with Hamilton in F1, they discovered that a large proportion of the overall audience would be fans of McLaren’s wonderkid, and so they catered for them.

  8. I expect the BBC would sooner get rid of Brundle than Legard given their complete and utter disdain for the view of the normal F1 fan.

  9. There has to be something that can be done to, if not get rid of this blether Legard then, at least teach him to draw breath periodically. He has one of the most annoying nasal voices with speech delivered at a ferocious rate. I find him incredibly off putting and frankly he spoils my enjoyment of F1. The sooner he goes the better.

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