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A new challenge with BBC Radio 5 Live
A new challenge with BBC Radio 5 Live
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Jan 2012   |  9:10 pm GMT  |  277 comments

I’m delighted to announce that I am joining the BBC Radio 5 Live team as F1 correspondent and lead commentator this season.

I’m really happy about this; 5 live is the default setting on my radio at home and in the car, it’s a great institution and I’m proud to be part of it.

Anyone who has followed my career knows I love a challenge; whether it’s taking over from Murray Walker, setting up this website, or creating the first F1 fans forums.

I’ve never done radio before and I’m really looking forward to adapting to a new medium.

This is a time of significant change in our industry and I see great opportunity here, thanks to the unique place Radio 5 Live has in this sport.

Readers can be reassured that nothing will change in terms of the coverage here on JA on F1. I’ll still be providing insights into the news and goings on in F1. We have some great plans for 2012.

UK readers wishing to hear the 5 Live F1 output can tune in to the radio station or access the audio online via the 5 Live website

You will also be able to down load the free chequered flag podcast at bbc.co.uk/5live with expert analysis and reaction from the circuit.

5 live Formula 1 will be on 5 live Sport every Friday night prior to a race. This will preview all the action and give the very latest news from the track.

Additionally, our commentary of all the practice sessions, qualifying and the race will be on the BBC Sport website and will be available on the Red Button for the ten BBC TV live races.

Fans at the track will be able to hear us in real time on the rentable Fanvision units.

I will continue to Tweet at @jamesallenonf1 and you can also follow our adventures on @5LiveF1.

And a final note for viewers of Ten Sport in Australia: Don’t worry, I’ll still be contributing to the shows, as before.

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Hi Guys,

I was trying to listen in on the live stream commentary at last Sunday’s China GP (I live in Perth Western Australia), but could not get the live stream to work (some loop message saying something about there being some problems for the GP). I was wondering if it has something to do with the fact that I live in Perth.

We used to enjoy BBC commentary on the Oz channel 10 and OneHD, but this year only 1 in 3 races is broadcast free to air (I don’t have Foxtel) and hence I was trying to follow the GP on the radio…

Thanks for looking into this.




Not sure, it should have worked everywhere. I know it works in the USA, UK.


Sorry James,

No match for Crofty he was fantastic. Just like he is at darts.


Wait and see


Congrats James, always felt you copped some unfair flak when you were at itv (it can not have been easy stepping in to the huge shoes of Murray Walker). Good news that we will hear you again in the UK. I am sure as you made a success of replacing Murray Walker on tv you will make radio commentry a succes too.


Well done for getting the R5 Live job! Now show them not to leave you behind again!


Congratulations James – really chuffed your back in the driving seat so to speak 🙂


Congratulations James! Also can’t wait until RPM on One HD starts again and for your reports on all the F1 news and your reports on Race weekends! Also I’ll definitely tune into BBC5Live! All the very best for this year!


Good on you mate!


Can you make the Chequered Flag podcast better I always thought it was lacking and is an obvious area for improvement.


How would you improve it?


Fewer interviews with drivers etc giving their PR managed platitudes. More analysis of the race team by team and how they may perform at the next race. Perhaps back to how it was a few years back as I recall.

(Pleased R5 has broken its trend of giving roles to “big personalities” rather than journo’s with true knowledge – good luck James.)


Good luck with this James – should be interesting.

I always see the 5Live commentary as 2 slightly different jobs…

For qualifying and the race, it is most definitely a radio job, and so requires commentary with the knowledge that few listeners can see the video feed (though some choose to listen to 5Live while watching).

However, for practice, there is a sizeable contingent that are also watching the “red button” video feed, or online – so the job becomes a strange hybrid. Sometimes commentary is based on the fact that events can be seen, and sometimes it is based on the fact that events cannot be seen.


Thanks. There is a whole other dimension to it which is F1 correspondent, going on the station with news and insights throughout the year, even taking that onto other BBC Radio stations if the story is a big one. That interests me a lot.



Do BBC R5 plan to cover all races this year??

It will be my only window on the non TV races as

despite being an F1 fan, I have no plan to get sky.




Yes. All races live on BBC Radio 5 Live, all practices and quali too, also BBC Sport website


Well done. I’m looking forward to the extras too such as the post race interviews.


Bit off topic but http://www.itv.com/formula1/news/2011/12/end-of-the-road-for-itvcomf1-0723/

seems like ITV’s F1 site is calling it a day now


That’s a real shame, I still followed the website and it had some good stuff on it. Although frankly I’m surprised it hadn’t closed sooner…


Not sure if this was mentioned already – Non-Uk fans can download a free App for iOS and Android called TuneIn. You can stream 5 Live (along with about 50,000 other radio stations).

Congrats J.A, looking forward to tuning in during the races.


tom, is this ok with download usage, or does it use alot? (im on a limited plan)


Hi DC,

It’s likely to be around 1mb per minute (possibly less). So a race commentary could be around 120mb.

One thing to be careful of though – make sure you fully close the App down once you are finished. Otherwise it could still be running in the background chewing up your data allowance!


Well done JA, you’ve definitely been missed in the commentary space. We can now all look forward to hearing your verbal insight as it happens.


Well deserved! Congratulations.


Great stuff, mate. Congratulations. And, yes, I’m relieved you’ll still be contributing to Channel Ten’s coverage in Australia! 🙂


Congratulations James and good luck.


Congrats JA.


How do you get away with it? Another slap in the face for BBC liseners


I will confess that as a young man growing up, I used to follow F1 and Murray was “the voice” as it were, and as a teenager I was non too impressed when James stepped into the commentary position on ITV. This was actually nothing to do with James’ at all, but just me wanting Murray there the whole time, clearly at that age I had no concept of how any of this stuff worked, I just knew Murray wasn’t there.

Now I’m a bit older and wiser, I can appreciate that the particular race when James was somewhat thrown in at the deep end (if I recall rightly) must have been one of the most nerve wracking things he has ever done. Going from reporting pit lane shenanigans to actually speaking to millions for 2 hours plus is not the easiest task, and I had no concept of the guts that must have taken. If possible my petulant teenage version of me would apologise, but it’s probably best we don’t hear from him again! God forbid if he was on Twitter…..

Totally agree with James if Senna was here to add colour and comments to the F1 community of today, the world would be a much richer place.

I only discovered this site last year, but I have to say it is the last piece in the jigsaw of the story of a weekend for me. There’s some top quality content here, and the insights James provides are fantastic. We really need people like him who continues to provide the top quality level of discussion and coverage be that online, on TV or indeed now on the old wireless! I know he has long tried to help the fans open the old school doors of F1, previously shut to the fans and so far it has worked really well.

So congratulations are in order. I’m sure commentating with no pictures will be quite a challenge, and it would be great to hear from James about how he works through that change! You’ll be an asset to the BBC team, and it will be really good to have some more of your content available for us in the coming seasons, especially the podcast on the BBC which has been really good to date.

Enjoy the experience James, and at least this time I’ll be old and wise enough to give you the credit you deserve. Keep up the good work!


Hi James,

There is something going on with the website. For about the last week, I’ve been unable to connect to it (not by laptop, nor handphone, which both are different ISPs). I am able to see it (and I’m currently posting) by using a proxy server website. In Singapore here. Is there something going on? Thanks.


Not this end, but there seem to be some issues for people accessing from overseas. Tech guys are looking into it


I also had no connection to it (australia) from just before xmas to today, but all seems to be well now.


Seriously great news James. Congrats. I will be tuning in on the 10 races. Will you be doing any in front of camera reporting/interviewing with the BBC?


Congratulations James, awesome news.


Great news indeed. As a Brit now living in the States I can’t get to hear the live commentaries, but I’ve been a regular listener of The Chequered Flag and other 5Live podcasts for years, so I look forward to the new team’s output.


Congratulations James .Too bad no radio 5 here in Aus.


Yes, Sky plundered the BBC F1 ranks for talent, but it’s only really Brundle and Davidson I will miss. They can keep Crofty and Kravitz and Pinkham. I can do without them. This however is a bit of a masterstroke by the beeb in my opinion.

James, you have the best window into the F1 world that I know of. I’m not alone in saying I appreciate this site and the work that goes into it. It’ll be great to have you on 5live. The first two sites I check in the morning are BBC and JAonF1 and now they have joined forces. I’m so pleased about this.

Congratulations on the job. Your gain is also our gain. Cheers to new jobs, new BBC F1 team and hopefully a new champion.

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