1st December 2010 – the beginning of our ‘Grand Prix Advent Calendar of Articles‘ – and we’re kicking it all of with a piece about none other Mr Jonathan Legard – The one man people seem to love to hate…

This first article in our Advent Calendar is also the first guest article for Graham Mogford (Badger name TBA) – so be nice,  welcome him to the Sett and we hope you enjoy this, his debut…

In all fairness, Jonathan Legard is not usually a controversial subject amongst F1 fans. There is pretty much a uniformity of opinion on the subject across the whole fan spectrum: whether you are a Tifosi or support Force India, whether you favour Lewis or Alonso, whether you prefer Monaco or Monza, all of you will have pretty much the same opinion of Jonathan Legard which, as the Badger is a family website, I can’t actually put down here in writing…

The fact that this opinion is shared by most of the world was brought home to me as I did a little research prior to writing this article. If you start typing ‘Jonathan Legard’ into the Google search box, then the helpful search suggestions it makes include: ‘Jonathan Legard rubbish’, ‘Jonathan Legard sacked’, ‘Jonathan Legard replaced’, and I think it is a fairly safe bet that most people’s queries would be covered by that list.

When you do actually search for just his name then, apart from his Wikipedia entry (which has been locked to prevent vandalism by users) and the official BBC sites, nothing favourable at all comes up about this key member of the BBC commentary team.

Yes, you did read it right – I did say key member of the team (see how I slipped it in). This article is going to take the rather unusual and even controversial view of Jonathan Legard, that there are actually a couple of things that can be said in his favour.

The first is that he performs a valuable service for F1 newbies and for those fans who are too hungover or exhausted by early morning races to think straight. He does this by giving their egos a much-needed boost. Picture the scene – you are watching the race, mumbling to yourself and you come out with the sort of bland, pointless statement of the obvious which is all your poor brain can come up with at the time, whether through inexperience and lack of knowledge of the sport or through some form of bodily abuse that you have put yourself through before the race. Seconds later that very same bland, pointless statement of the obvious is repeated by Legard – and not just that – he gets it slightly wrong (confusing two drivers in the same team for instance). Immediately your ego is boosted: ‘Hey,’ you think, ‘I’m not such a newbie/drunkard/exhausted wreck as I thought I was. In fact, I could even be a BBC commentator like Jonathan Legard.’ You don’t get that with Martin Brundle. Who can honestly say they haven’t had the reassuring thought that if Legard can do it, then anyone can? I know I have, and for that feeling I say, ‘Thanks, Mr L.’

The second thing in his favour is more philosophical. The ancient Chinese Taoists and Confucians made much of the concept of Yin and Yang, the balance and interconnections between opposites. Without light, how can we understand dark, without pain can we truly appreciate pleasure?

Put simply, without Legard, how could we truly appreciate Brundle? Legard is Yin (diffuse, cold, wet) to Brundle’s Yang (hard, solid, focused). If we had two commentators who made informed, witty comments throughout the race, we wouldn’t appreciate either of them half so well, but by contrasting Brundle to Legard we are reminded constantly of how cool Martin Brundle is. Hell, he even had a character in a horror film named after him (Jeff Goldblum’s character in ‘The Fly’ – not a coincidence, actually named after the racing driver: astound your friends with that fact next time it’s on telly), something which no one has ever thought to do for Jonathan Legard. (I should make it clear at this point that there is no truth in the rumour that the Will Smith film was originally going to be titled ‘I Am Legard’)

So there we have it. Jonathan Legard – a key part of the BBC’s commentating team: he makes everyone feel like they could one day, with a little bit of luck, be a Formula One commentator and he helps you truly appreciate Martin Brundle. What more could you ask from the man who is possibly the greatest Formula One commentator born in Cardiff in 1961.

Back in May 2009, We ran a piece – The Great Commentator Crisis, putting Legard ‘on probation’ – now, 18months later, what do you think? – Comments below please!