The Conversation: Sports presenter Mark Chapman on the Premier League, celebrities and taking over Match of the Day 2


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The Independent Online

You've started presenting Match of the Day 2 - how's it going?

I was glad to get the first one out of the way, to be honest. Not that it's a chore, but there was so much build-up.

You can handle it, though. You're a broadcast veteran.

How depressing is that phrase! I've done live radio for 15 years but the attention that comes with Match of the Day is different. Even in this day and age of goals appearing online, people still come to us for the full picture of the football weekend. There's such scrutiny on football programmes at the moment – we analyse the analysis.

Is not being able to cover full matches a frustration?

There's no way we could afford to show the Premier League live. I'm lucky because I get live sport with the radio side of it.

Do you feel you have to watch your words? Your predecessor, Colin Murray, was criticised for how he handled remarks about Clare Balding.

That happened live in front of a stadium audience, and I always think those kind of shows are quite dangerous. Away from that comment, it's harder to take the mick in football, because people take offence a lot quicker than they tend to in other sports. If you take the mick out of a manager or player, immediately you'll bring forth the hate and abuse of the club.

You once complained about only being able to run three minutes of a 15-minute interview with then-Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini. Who was to blame?

The club had only heard three minutes of the interview, so that's all we could run.

Do the clubs have to approve?

More often than not these days. You have to jump through hoops to try to get people and then get them approved.

Are the bigger clubs the worst?

Some of the bigger clubs are a delight to deal with, and some aren't. There are some small clubs that can be difficult.

Sometimes the big stars are really nice, and the smaller ones not so much?

Going back to my Radio 1 days, the bigger the star, the nicer they were. From Beyoncé to Mariah Carey to Owen Wilson, they were fantastic.

Are you sure there were no Mariah demands?

The only funny thing was, we said to her, "God you've got a big entourage, do you know what they all do?". And she quite happily laughed and said, "No".

Working at Radio 1 was a dream come true for you, wasn't it?

It was where I'd always wanted to work since I was 12, and I was lucky enough to get a job there. The last two years, I was getting a bit bored. I just wanted to do proper sports broadcasting rather than read bulletins. It ended in a completely amicable way.

You got a degree in French. Can you speak it?

Annoyingly, very little. The last time I spoke French was two years ago when I took the kids to EuroDisney. But if I'd had the chance, I could quite happily have lived in France for the rest of my life – I adore everything about it.

Their football league is quite good at the moment.

There's a lot of money coming into it and their tax system means they can attract some of the best players in the world.

They get paid enough over here, don't they, Mark?

They get paid enough to look after themselves, put it that way.


Mark Chapman, 39, began his career in 1996 at BBC North East Radio. He's now a sports presenter for BBC Radio 5 Live and recently took over as the host of Match of the Day 2