News and views on motorsports

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Need For The Next Murray Walker

In my opinion, Murray Walker was a bit of a moron. I mean, people complain about James Allen being short of grey matter and they may be right. But he's a bloody genius by comparison to the old man. Murray however, had his uses.

I remember back in day, I used to switch to Eurosport to watch grand prix. Sure, John Watson's commentary may be a little dry but at least it was informed whereas Walker would always babble on and on and sometimes that got quite tiring. Especially when the subject he was babbling on and on was his pet favourites Hill and Mansell. One simply got tired of the babbling biasness. If it wasn't for James Hunt I wouldn't be watching the BBC coverage at all. Finally it was the appearance of Martin Brundle that attracted me back to the Beeb and eventually the ITV coverage.

But as I said, Murray Walker had his uses. For no one could rouse the viewer better than the old man. His commentary style could bring a certain excitement into an otherwise dull race. He was the English equivalent of excitable Japanese or South American commentators and despite his demonstrable incompetence from time to time, he could entertain. Coupled with an expert like Brundle, it was perhaps the perfect commentary team. Perhaps only American commentators do better but then again I hardly watch American sports.

The best thing Alan Gow ever did for the British Touring Car Championship back in the 90s was to secure Murray Walker's services for the BTCC telly coverage. Of course, the BTCC offered some of the best racing ever seen but Murray would add to the excitement. Murray had many fans and that added to the draw of the BTCC. The commentators these days can hardly compare. Take the A1GP for instance. Surely a budding young championship like this which offers some good racing would benefit more from Murray's presence to get more fans world wide. Perhaps if Murray was around, it wouldn't be seemingly fading away in only its second season.

Another championship that sorely needs the presence of a Murray Walker would be the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). In the first place, the cars aren't as exciting to look at as the Super Tourers but my god, the commentators are just too efficient at putting one to sleep! What is it about Eurosport? Where do they find these guys anyway?

My point is, most people watch their racing on the telly. Live action offers the viewer a spectacle in terms of effect. The panoramic sights, the sounds, the smells and simply the feel of an event keeps crowds enthralled. But on the telly, its sanitized. In the absence of all the "special effects" a good commentator is an absolute requirement to add some spice to any championship television package. Its an attraction.

So who will be the next Murray Walker? Motor racing definitely could definitely use him or even her.


Don Speekingleesh said...

Brundle never worked on the Beeb commentary!

I always watched the Eurosport coverage - not just for John Watson, but also Ben Edwards.

I think Edwards should have been the replacement for Murray - as excitable (some of his 1997 CART commentaries were great - he shouted himself hoarse by the end of the races), but also less inclined toward mistakes.

Qwerty said...

My mistake then.

Clive said...

Murray became a British institution, thanks to being first in the field. As you say, he was inaccurate, ridiculous and biased, but we forgave him everything because... well, because he'd always been our voice of motor sport. The Beeb actually did a good job of balancing his excitable blathering with the steady, more informed voice of an expert such as James Hunt or Martin Brundle - Murray entertained those new to watching F1, while the expert gave the real F1 fans some relief from Murray's nonsense.

And now that Murray has gone, we begin to realise how necessary he was. You are quite right to wish that there was an obvious replacement for him.

Dream Sporting said...

I've never heard Murray. Reading your post, I get a vague idea of his characteristics.

I started watching F1 on Star Sports, India. The commentary team consisted of Chris Goodwin and Steve Slater. While Steve went ballistic at every pitstop and every time 2 cars were within 2 seconds of each other (including predicting a deadbeat between 2 cars at most races), Chris would provide the insights and laugh off some of the stuff from Steve.

Now, living in the US of A, I woke up at 4am to watch the Bahrain GP on Speed. While the team is fairly insightful, they don't keep the viewer engaged. They sorely lack a Steve Slater.

A tactical race could have been a thrilla with Steve behind the microphone.

Anonymous said...

How can you say such a thing about Murray?

Murray was formula one in himself and was loved by millions.

Unless you lot have the ability to do as well as him, shut up.