Motor racing: The voice of motor sport talks ITV into a pay rise

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The Independent Online
Murray Walker launched his new career with ITV yesterday by revealing he had negotiated a pay rise, but the man who has spent more than 50 years with the BBC as the undisputed voice of British motor sport, said: "It's only a modest in crease. After all, I do it basically for the love of it."

Walker will be joined in the commentary box by Martin Brundle, who finds himself back in the world of Formula One just weeks after losing his drive with Jordan.

ITV plan four shows for each of the season's grands prix, starting with a 90-minute qualifying programme. There will be a 15-minute news show and race coverage itself will begin half an hour before the start. A highlights package will wrap up coverage later in the evening.

One thing guaranteed to irritate viewers, however, are five planned two- minute commercial breaks which will bite into each race, but Neil Duncanson, executive producer of ITV's race coverage, said: "It was only the BBC which didn't have commercial breaks.

"Most other companies have more or longer breaks than we plan. But if we do miss anything the audience won't, because everything will be recorded."

The 73-year-old Walker, who gave his first radio commentary at Silverstone in 1946, revealed how close his career came to ending following last season's final race in Japan.

"I seriously thought of jacking it in," said Walker, who has signed a two-year contract with ITV. "Damon Hill was world champion, a good mate of mine, and it seemed a good idea to stop. But Formula One and motor racing are my passion and my life and I don't want to finish. It's a pleasure to talk about it.

"ITV have given me an opportunity to carry on working with such good talent and with lots of money going into the sport. When I thought of that I didn't have to think much longer. I am absolutely delighted."