Matt Butler: Concerned, sensitive and, thankfully, nothing like Madeley

View From The Sofa: London Marathon, BBC1

Broadcasting after a disaster requires a balance to be struck. Presenters have to walk a fine line between saying too little or too much. And their choice of words is crucial as well. It is all too easy either to go all Richard Madeley and trample all over people's sensitivities, or become like a reality singing contest voiceover person and lay on the mawkishness too thickly.

With Jonathan Edwards, whose "concerned" face pops up even when speaking about something as inconsequential as the ins and outs of triple jumping, hosting the London Marathon coverage, there was always the danger of the latter, even given the seriousness of last week's terror in Boston.

Thankfully, he and the rest of the BBC set the tone perfectly. Their talk of the "running community coming together", while shots of the carnage at the end of the Boston Marathon flashed over the screen, rang true. Because if there is one band of slightly addled people that look out for the rest of humanity it is long distance runners – especially the type who train for nothing more than raising money for others.

Coverage of the London Marathon can give viewers goosebumps in any year, from the opening strains of Ron Goodwin's evocative theme music to the parade of pre-race interviews with runners putting themselves through hell for their chosen charities.

But this year's footage yesterday morning will have had the more emotional among us welling up before the elite women had even laced up their shoes. There were touching tributes to the people killed and injured in Boston, along with a piece with the former London Marathon race director David Bedford, who summed up the message of defiance. "Please carry on, please run the race," he said.

Commentator Steve Cram added just after the period of silence prior to the start of the mass race: "If you are trying to break the human spirit, marathon runners are the wrong sort of people to pick on."

There was one jarring moment – one that also smacked of annoying nepotism – early on, as Sian Williams, part of a gaggle of BBC news staff all running the London Marathon, recounted in an interview with Edwards her training difficulties leading up to the race: "I have missed training with a bit of a cough, but I have to finish it, with Boston in mind."

Edwards almost winced. But he reiterated how every runner in London had Boston in the backs of their minds, before switching to the commentators. Because amid the tributes and masses of normal folk running for others, there was a race – and the prospect of a world record – to be covered.

Paula Radcliffe was part of the commentary team and even though her bitterness at being unable to race through injury lay just below the surface ("Of course I'd rather be out there racing" was one of her first utterances), she proved to be an excellent pundit, with forthright opinions, never more so than when talking about Mo Farah's decision to run half the race.

And she was empathetic to the 35,000 plodders lining up at the start line, saying it was a "perfect day" for running. It was, for reasons beyond the crisp, sunny weather. And the perfect way to pay tribute to the people taking part, as well as those affected by Boston last week, was shown just before 10am, with 30 seconds of silence, followed by a deafening roar from 35,000 runners. The period of silence, accompanied by a long shot of the massed athletes lined up and the City of London in the distance, was exceptionally moving. There was no need to say anything more. And, credit to the Beeb, nobody did.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones