Paralympics: Keep up on TV


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The Independent Online

The BBC’s exemplary coverage of London 2012 means Channel 4 has a tough act to follow. But at least it can put aside concerns that its 500 hours of Paralympic coverage might be excessive.

The appetite of the British audience to return to the Olympic stadium for more slow-motion pictures of athletes testing themselves to their limits is unabated. Channel 4 will be clearing its schedules for the Games, with coverage throughout the day except for a two-hour afternoon slot, when the Games moves to More4.

To try to replicate the 24 red-button channels of the BBC, it will be offering three live stream channels – C4 Paralympics Extra 1, 2 and 3 – shown on Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media and the Channel 4 website, morning till night.

Fresh from her triumphant stint for the BBC, Clare Balding will provide a sense of continuity from the Olympics by hosting teatime and peak-evening Paralympic coverage along with former Paralympian and experienced presenter Ade Adepitan, while another BBC presenter Jonathan Edwards will be a familiar face over the 12-day period.

Channel 4 was criticised for elements of its coverage of last year’s World Athletics Championships. Sensibly, the broadcaster has hired a range of presenters with experience of Paralympic sport, and conducted a £500,000 talent search to find new disabled reporters and commentators including former Paralympic swimmer Rachel Latham (above).

The channel will be hoping to prove its reputation as a broadcasting innovator through Lexi, a graphics system intended to simplify the sometimes confusing classification systems of Paralympic events. So competitors in eight of the 20 sports will be assigned figures in various colours from green to red to denote the degree of their impairment. The graphic system – which also denotes missing limbs, dwarfism and learning disabilities – was devised by Paralympic gold-winning athlete Giles Long.

It being Channel 4, an evening highlights show (10.30 to 11.15pm daily) called The Last Leg – equivalent to that presented by Gabby Logan during the Olympics – will be hosted by two comedians, Australian Adam Hills and Josh Widdicombe. For early risers, there is the Paralympic Games Breakfast Show hosted by Rick Edwards and Kelly Cates (7 to 9.15am daily). Jon Snow will be involved, with his evening Paralympics Show in the build up to the Games and by anchoring coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies.