Clare Balding and Charles Dance lead BBC's digitally-enabled Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics coverage

Channel promises 'the most complete digital coverage of a Winter Olympic Games to date'

Clare Balding will be the face of the BBC’s Winter Olympics coverage, with actor Charles Dance providing the “voice of nature”, under the corporation’s plans to deliver 650 hours of live action from Sochi 2014.

The BBC promises “the most complete digital coverage of a Winter Olympic Games to date” when the competition begins in Russia next month. There will be six HD channels and two red button streams delivering live events, alongside 200 hours of network television.

After declining to join a boycott of the Games in protest against the rising tide of homophobic persecution in Russia, Ms Balding, one of the most prominent and LGBT figures in the UK media, will anchor the BBC’s coverage. She will also introduce the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

Ms Balding said she would present from Russia “because I am a sports presenter who happens to be gay. I think the best way of enlightening societies that are not as open-minded as our own is not to be cowed into submission.”

Actor Stephen Fry had called for the Games to be banned, comparing the event to the 1936 Berlin Olympics which took place amid the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany.

His intervention followed the passage of a law in Russia’s lower house of Parliament, the Duma, imposing fines for those who spread information about homosexuality and comments by sports minister Vitaly Mutk who said that those who spread gay “propaganda” would be punished.

Charles Dance, the actor, will be the voice of “nature” in a trail to promote the BBC’s coverage. The Game of Thrones actor speaks “a foreboding verse to set a challenge to the Winter Olympic athletes to overcome its extreme elements.” The trail, which will set the tone for the BBC’s opening credits, will be given a “premiere” before Sherlock on BBC1 this Sunday.

Utilising digital advances trialled during the 2012 London Olympics, all of the Winter Games content will be available on PCs, tablets and mobiles.

The BBC said that the “state-of-the-art underlying technology can be used across the BBC, enabling even more live events to be given the digital treatment, cost effectively, and leave a legacy for the future.” The cost of covering the Games is expected to be a third of the £66 million the BBC spent covering the London event.

Balding will be joined by Hazel Irvine and Jonathan Edwards in the Games studio. The BBC has lined up expert commentators including former figure skater Robin Cousins, Olympic skier Graham Bell and former alpine skier Emma Carrick-Anderson.

Ron Chakraborty, Lead Executive of Major Events for BBC Sport, said: “BBC Sport is very proud to be able to offer such extensive coverage from Sochi 2014 - after delivering London 2012 we’re once again at the forefront of bringing the most innovative and accessible multi-platform sports coverage to our audiences. The Winter Olympics is a big part of a fantastic year of sport on the BBC which also includes the World Cup and Commonwealth Games.”

The Opening Ceremony, which will see more than 2,000 performers welcoming the world to Russia, will be live on BBC Two and BBC Two HD from 3.30pm on 7 February.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing / PR / Social Media Executive

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A thriving online media busines...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower