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!