Christmas time is a time for giving and the BBC have proved to be a very giving organization over the last few years.
They gave their resigning Director General a massive pay-off for bungling at the highest level. They gave away their exclusive rights to televise Formula 1 to Sky television, and now they have given Sky the greatest gift of all - Suzi Perry is to present the BBC F1 coverage in 2013.
"She'll bring real energy and years of experience to one of the biggest jobs in sports broadcasting," said BBC Head of F1 Ben Gallop. "Her presenting ability, coupled with her love and knowledge of motorsport, make her an excellent addition (to the team)."
Hmmm, knowledge of motorsport - that sounds good. Let's go to her website and see what she's interested in?
Music: John Mayer, Michael Macdonald, Sarah McLachlan, Nerina Pallot, Eagles, MJ, Elvis, Tom Petty.
Well, you can't have everything and she won't be sharing her i-tunes playlist on the grid. What motorsport is she interested in? F1 or GP2? Maybe it's the World Rally Championship or Touring Cars? Perhaps it's IndyCar or NASCAR or Le Mans...?
Sport: MotoGP, World Superbike, Footie, Tennis, Athletics.
Right, so basically she's not interested in anything on four wheels and Ben Gallop's assertion that she's got a knowledge of motorsport is a bit of a euphemism. She'll know the name of the corners of the few circuits where MotoGP and F1 overlap and that's about it.
A co-presenter of Channel 5's The Gadget Show (along with a man who looks like one of those hairless cats), she has been chosen on the basis of her presenting the BBC's MotoGP coverage, on and off, for the last ten years. Although they love their pre-scripted phrases (very Sid Waddell), the greatest asset of the MotoGP coverage are commentators Steve Parrish and Charlie Cox.
In the past Suzi Perry has looked ill-at-ease about tackling some of the major stars when it was less than convenient for them. She certainly doesn't have the elbows, the authority or the driver relationships that the BBC's current driver interviewer Lee McKenzie has.
Let's not underestimate the mountain she has to climb; Jake Humphrey was a superb F1 presenter, the best there has been, and his loss will be enormous. He wasn't afraid to ask embarrassing questions to drivers and team bosses alike. The last three seasons of coverage from the BBC has been peerless, taking standards to a new level. The chemistry between Humphrey, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard would have been impossible to recreate, but you would have hoped that they could get close.
Lee McKenzie would have been the obvious choice to step in as she has virtually grown up with the sport. Daughter of veteran motorsport journalist Bob McKenzie, she has links to up and coming drivers through a driver management company, she has competed in rallying and she knows all the movers and shakers, having been a pitlane reporter for the BBC these last years.
Now, it may be that after the couple of times she has been asked to present the show in Humphrey's absence, the producers weren't entirely convinced by her performance. It's one thing having a list of three or four things to ask each driver, and it's another conducting the show - which is what Humphrey had to do as his trio roamed the paddock before and after each GP (avoiding the Sky team as they went).
Suzi Perry is a top presenter on The Gadget Show where everything is under control, but if the BBC are going to hire Coulthard and Jordan for 2013 - something they have yet to confirm - and have the same rolling anarchy of the BBC Forum, then that is going to be a real stretch.
Any lack of quality from the BBC will drive more viewers to Sky's subscription service. Because it's not a good situation to have a presenter of an expensive flagship programme where the viewers know a lot more than the presenter. And they know they know a lot more than the presenter. BBC Sport have this thing about validating their contributors by running their sporting achievements in a caption when they first appear on vision in each programme. What can they do with Suzi Perry and four-wheel motorsport?
Okay, Jake Humphrey learnt quickly, but then he was already a lot more versatile than Perry having presented American Football, the Olympics from Beijing, the African Cup of Nations and Football Focus. He was only 30 when he took on the prestigious F1 role. You can't teach an old dog new tricks and even at the age of 42, Suzi Perry hasn't had anything like the breadth of high-pressure live experience, despite her number of years presenting MotoGP. She's definitely easier on the eye than Humphrey and has probably been a contender for Rear of the Year, but in F1 it's Adrian Newey who produces the neatly packaged rear ends.
Obviously we have to give her the benefit of the doubt and hope that she adapts to F1 like Fernando Alonso to the Ferrari F2012. But the strong probability is that just like Felipe Massa last year, it's going to take half a season to get to grips with the job. And by that time many of the viewers will have stumped up for a Sky subscription.
So, Happy Christmas Sky from the BBC, welcome to more viewers in 2013.
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