I don’t much care for the musical stylings of Boyzone’s Ronan Keating. I’m sure he’s a nice guy – in fact my housemate met him in a lift over the weekend and insists he was downright lovely – but I’m not big into his work.

Yet, despite this, I was thinking about Keating’s voice throughout Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix. Why? Because his trademark growl – the one best exemplified by the way he rolls his Rs “Life Is a Rollercoaster” – is near identical to the sound BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards makes when the on-track action gets intense.

And with the Chinese race being such a humdinger Ben was in full growl mode this weekend. He growled his way through that race like a bear who’d just downed a quart of whiskey and smoked a pack of Marlboro Reds. Every time two cars went side by side Ben got his growl going, to the extent that it was easy to imagine that an actual bear was in the box with David Coulthard.

I don’t necessarily mind this. The idea of a bear commentating on a motor race is not something I have a problem with. It’s 2012, after all. Live and let live.

But while Sunday’s was undeniably a great race, Bear Edwards and co-commentator Coulthard (who is not a bear – he most resembles an emaciated heron) did overdo it slightly, with both repeatedly informing the viewers that they were watching a really top grand prix. I wasn’t keeping count, but there were roughly seven or eight occasions on which one of them declared it ‘a fantastic motor race’.

Repeatedly telling people that what they’re seeing is good just seemed a bit unnecessary – because we can all see it too. You don’t need commentators to tell you that there are cars on the circuit, you need them to keep you abreast of the bigger picture in the race. Banging the ‘isn’t this fantastic drum’ was irksome.

But hey, I forgive them, and largely enjoyed the race with Edwards and Coulthard calling the action, even if they did trip over each other more often than Jenson Button and Narain Karthikeyan. Or Sebastian Vettel and Narain Karthikeyan. Or the safety car and… well, you get the idea.

Taking in the BBC coverage, I also got to enjoy Lee McKenzie as she interviewed sole retiree Michael Schumacher. Fan’s of Lee McKenzie’s Disappointment Bingo may wish to note that she got four seconds into the conversation before dropping the D-Bomb.

Next up Bahrain, where we get to watch F1 pundits grapple with the complexities of Middle-Eastern democratic movements and the difference between Shia and Sunni Islam. Rumours abound that the Beeb are on the verge of parachuting Paxman in as a guest/emergency host.


 1. It is true that my housemate met Ronan. He told her a funny joke about theatres. I’m left to wonder whether Keating can still be termed a heartthrob though. He has a very nineties look that I’m not sure transfers to 21st century aesthetics. Ladies – does Keating still get your heart beating?

2. What I am sure of is that Keating’s growl is not trademarked. I strongly doubt one can trademark a growl.

3. This was the first race I have watched without Martin Brundle commentating since 2006. I told someone this on Monday and they called me a “sad, lonely man,” though in fairness they were a stranger on the bus.

4. David Coulthard reminds me of a heron because they have very similar legs. Take a look next time you see a heron wading in the river. You will have trouble convincing yourself the former McLaren driver is not paddling about in the shallows.

5. Lee McKenzie is great. Seriously, she’s probably my favourite person on the BBC team.

6. Paxman won’t be presenting. Imagine him interviewing Kimi Raikkonen though.