Page 3 Profile: Clare Balding, sports presenter


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The Independent Online

A Balding backlash?

Of the celebrities who received greatly increased media coverage during and after the Olympics, Balding has arguably fared best. Tom Daley, who presents Splash! on ITV, has been accused of overexposure, while those who signed up for reality shows (Beth Tweddle, Victoria Pendleton) often find themselves at the centre of vile Twitter bashings. But despite a seemingly endless cycle of newspaper interviews and her BBC One primetime show, Britain's Brightest, the public still has an over-whelming warmth for Balding. It is almost a surprise that she hasn't been thrown her own triumphal parade, so grateful were those watching the Olympics and Paralympics to find a presenter who was competent, incisive and well-researched. Some have bemoaned her promotion of horseracing, a sport often fatal to the horses involved, but Britain won gold medals on horses so we can forget about that for the time being. Now, it seems Balding is once again keen to cash in on this goodwill.

Dressage on Ice? Strictly Come Showjumping?

A chat show on BT's new Sport Channel, which will apparently see her interview some of the sporting world's biggest names. The show's early title is Clare Balding Presents. In a statement that managed to name check her paymasters on an impressive two occasions, she said: "I'd like to thank BT for giving me the opportunity to present my own magazine style programme in which I can interview iconic sports stars and discuss newsworthy and stimulating topics. I'm enthused by BT's vision for sports coverage in the future and particularly their support of women's sport..."

BT Sport... What's that then?

It's launching this summer, and it must have its rivals quaking in their boots. It has already signed up Jake Humphrey, the BBC's former F1 presenter, to host the Premier League coverage which it paid £738m to secure last year. BT has also signed up 69 live rugby union matches, as well as 800 hours of the world's best grunting from players in the Women's Tennis Association.