From 6am to 1am, daily: BBC1 runs into Olympic overload

Schedules cleared for 2,500 hours of coverage – and 'glass box' World Cup studio will be used again

Tom Peck
Wednesday 16 May 2012 00:00 BST
The corporation has defended the costs of deploying 765 staff to cover the Games
The corporation has defended the costs of deploying 765 staff to cover the Games (GETTY IMAGES)

In every conceivable sense, Stratford is a long way from the foot of South Africa's Table Mountain. But when Gary Lineker tucks his famous toes under the coffee table at the BBC's Olympics studio on the east London site in a few months time, he might experience more than a little déjà vu.

Perched on top of 18 shipping containers in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium, the BBC is using the same hexagonal glass box studio it installed below Table Mountain at the 2010 World Cup. Then the corporation was criticised for profligacy – the final took place more than 1,000 miles away in Soweto. Yesterday the BBC's director of sport, Barbara Slater, stressed both the green credentials and the "value for money" of its new studio.

It is from here that the BBC promises "unrivalled" Olympic coverage. In all there will be 2,500 hours of coverage spanning 25 channels showing every second of Olympic action. BBC 1 will show nothing but Olympics from 6am until 1am, with the occasional break for news. Those looking for their regular installment of EastEnders, Panorama, and Songs of Praise during this period will have to turn to BBC2. Some of the BBC's less popular shows will be "rested".

The corporation has defended the costs of deploying 765 staff to cover the Games. Many will require hotel accommodation, having only recently relocated to BBC Sport's new home in Salford.

"With late working hours, and the Olympics being far out in east London, many of these staff would have required hotel accommodation anyway," the BBC's director for London 2012, Roger Mosey, said.

The 2012 games will, the BBC claims, be the first "digital Olympics". All the BBC's channels will be available online and in HD. "The claimed obsolescence of the BBC is a nonsense," Mr Mosey said. "As the nation's broadcaster we are committed to ensuring that viewers get the most from their Olympic experience and our comprehensive coverage will deliver on that promise."

There will be a free Olympics mobile app, allowing people to watch the games on the go. Twitter, too, will be important to the BBC's coverage, with many of its top presenters embracing the medium.

Gary Lineker also said he would continue to tweet during the Olympics, making light of his recent Twitter altercations with footballer Joey Barton. "It's a fascinating medium, and a great way of engaging with the public," he said. "People say nasty things about you on there every day. It's just they're not normally so high-profile. I'm relatively new to it but it's very addictive."

For the first time in at least 64 years, those visiting the UK for the Games will be seeing their Olympics through the BBC. Jake Humphrey, who will anchor Olympic coverage from the velodrome, said: "Our job is to give people a flavour of British culture, British television and British life."

Sian Williams, who will be returning to the BBC Breakfast sofa, this time repackaged as "Olympic Breakfast", stressed the programme would remain a news programme.

She said: "The Olympics themselves will generate all sorts of news angles and stories, but our job remains the same. When you switch on in the morning you want to know what's gone on. If there's been big events in Syria, or domestically, we will be covering them. We must fulfil our objectives."

Olympic news you may have missed...

Three-time world champion Katie Taylor has secured her place at the women's boxing tournament this summer. The Irish fighter defeated Saida Khassenova of Kazakhstan 20-8 in the 60-kilogram class at the world championships in China yesterday.

Three British boxers also moved closer to confirming their places in London; Nicola Adams, Natasha Jones and Savannah Marshall all winning quarter-final places.

Flyweight Adams overcame Venezuela's Karla Magliocco, 20-7. "It was tough," the 29-year-old, who next faces five-time 48kg world champion Mary Kom in the last eight today, said. "Everybody wants to win and qualify."

What's coming up...

Tomorrow The 2012 Olympic flame handover ceremony takes place tomorrow at the Panathinaiko Stadium. Lord Coe, will accept the torch. The event will be screened on BBC2 from 5.15pm. The torch will then be sent to Britain, where it will go through more than 1,000 places before arriving in London for the lighting of the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony on 27 July.

Who's up?

English Gardner Remember the name. The University of Oregon student clocked a US junior 100m record of 11.03sec last year and at the PAC 12 Championships in Eugene she recorded a stunning 11.00sec, albeit wind assisted. The New Jersey native also ran a legal 22.82sec for 200m.

Who's down?

Russell Mark The Olympic gold medal-winning shooting champion is to don a lime-green mankini – as worn by Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat character – in front of 80,000 at the opening ceremony. The 48-year-old lost a bet on his local Australian Football team, Carlton. "A lot of people think a mankini might look better than the uniform they've nominated," he joked.

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