My Life in Media: Sports commentator Barry Davies

'I sometimes give opinions, but am basically there to jolly the viewers along, without getting between them and the match'

Sports commentator Barry Davies, 70, has been broadcasting for over 40 years. He has covered 10 World Cups, 10 Olympic Games, seven Winter Olympics, seven Commonwealth Games and many Wimbledons. On Saturday he reprises his role as "Voice of the Boat Race", commentating for LBC Radio. He lives in Datchet, Berkshire, with his wife Penny, whom he met on his first job for BBC Radio. Their daughter, Giselle, is director of communications for the International Olympic Committee, and their son, Barry, is managing director of the online betting shop Betfair.

What inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

I sort of fell into it via being a medical student and a dental student, then getting caught by National Service and being asked to broadcast while I was in the army.

When you were 15, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

My father liked to get the News Chronicle. It matched his politics: he was something of a liberal by heart. We used to get The Daily Telegraph as well. I remember reading EW Swanton.

What were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

At the age of 15, in 1952, we didn't have a television set. I remember that radio tended to be a Saturday night thing. My parents liked to listen to In Town Tonight and Saturday Night Theatre.

Describe your job.

I'm a communicator. I try to put the viewer into a seat at the venue, and to assist in terms of the information and help their enjoyment. I sometimes give opinions, but am basically there to jolly them along without getting between the viewers and the match.

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

I get woken up by Today – whether it's a really good interview, which one hears relatively often, or the exact reverse, when I find myself shouting: "For God's sake, let him answer the question!"

Do you consult any media sources during the day?

I regularly get The Daily Telegraph and dip in and out of others. My computer is set to BBC news and sport, and I use various websites depending on what I want to do. I do go into Wikipedia quite often but worry about its accuracy.

What do you tune into when you get home?

I work quite a lot from home and usually have Classic FM on in the background. I am not a regular television watcher but we never miss Mastermind or University Challenge, and often Sky +. I enjoy politics and current-affairs shows but am a bit more choosy with sport since I've not been working in television. I watch major events like the Six Nations.

What is the best thing about your job?

That I get paid for a hobby. I've been to all the major sporting events over the last 40 years. It's a privilege and it's fun.

And the worst?

Hobbies you can normally put away, but when your hobby is your job – and it's in the sporting world, which is constantly moving on – it's very difficult to shut out. You need to have good friends and family who bring up other subjects.

How do you feel you influence the media?

I'm not sure I do, but television clearly does. It can distort a picture because of its emphasis on a particular thing. Words are still important and can sometimes be forgotten because there's a dramatic picture to be looked at.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

When the Royal Society of Television awarded me a lifetime achievement award in 2004, just after I'd retired from Match of the Day. Some people say that means "goodbye", but I have managed to carry on working.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

I presented tennis for the first time at Bournemouth hardcourt championships, and Match of the Day that week was at Brighton. From Bournemouth I said, "Good afternoon and welcome to Brighton!" When we came back a few minutes later I said, "I would like you to know that I've run like mad and have now arrived in Bournemouth, where this championship is." It was amusing, but as it was the first time I'd been given the chance to present tennis it could have been disastrous.

What is your Sunday paper, and do you have a favourite magazine?

If I've had The Telegraph in the week I might buy The Observer. Occasionally I don't get one at all, as they take about three weeks to read and you spend half your time removing sections and taking things out of plastic covers. We get The Week, and my son got me a subscription to Prospect that I shall certainly renew.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire.

I always wanted to cover the November 11 celebrations at the Cenotaph. I would also like to do the ceremony at London 2012, but as it's been taken over by BBC News there's precious little chance of that.

What would you do if you didn't work in the media?

If I had been a teacher of English I could have got into the debate about the development of language, or incorrect language.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

David Dimbleby, who is a consummate professional broadcaster, and Jon Snow, who I think is the best news anchor on television.

The CV

1960 Joins British Forces Broadcasting Service

1962 Works on the BBC's Sports Report for nine months before moving to The Times' sports desk

1966 Takes all his annual leave to present the World Cup for ITV

1968 Covers his first Olympic Games

1969 Joins the BBC to cover major sporting events

1983 His first Wimbledon

2004 Presents 12th Boat Race. Retires from Match of the Day; awarded lifetime achievement award. Continues to commentate on a freelance basis

2005 Receives the MBE

2008 Becomes "Voice of the Boat Race" on LBC Radio 97.3FM

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Database Executive - Leading Events Marketing Company - London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Databas...

Recruitment Genius: Publishing Assistant

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

Guru Careers: Print Project Manager

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Print Project Manager is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living