Grand Prix (TV programme)

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Grand Prix
BBC Grand Prix 1994-1995 Title.jpg
1994-1995 opening titles
Presented by Murray Walker (main presenter 1978-1996)
James Hunt (1979–1993)
Jonathan Palmer (1990–1996)
Tony Jardine (1993-1996)
Steve Rider (live races 1985-1996)
Harry Carpenter (Occasionally 1978-1980)
Des Lynam (Occasionally 1980-1985)
Opening theme "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac
Country of origin United Kingdom
Running time Qualifying: 1 hour
Pre-race: 5 to 15 minutes
Race: 1.5 to 2 hours (depending on race length)
Highlights 25 to 50 minutes
Original network BBC One
Original release 7 May 1978 – 13 October 1996
Related shows F1 BBC

Grand Prix was a British television programme based on the Formula One World Championship. It was primarily presented by the "Voice of F1" Murray Walker, who was also the lead commentator.


In the early days of the programme, during the long-haul races such as South Africa, the commentary booth was located at Television Centre due to the high costs of travelling to such races.[1] The team would not usually travel to non-European races to commentate unless another broadcaster paid for the travel expenses. Murray Walker would usually be flown to the location of the tracks to record a short scene before returning to England to commentate. On occasions the BBC employed a "ghost commentator" which was someone who would be in touch with the production team in London and gained access to timing monitors so that cameras could record what was occurring off the track. The first "ghost commentator" was Mark Fogarty with Joe Saward taking over in the early 1990s.[2]


The first broadcast of the programme came at the 1978 Monaco Grand Prix.[3] The corporation had initially shown the odd race that featured on the calendar before they shown some of the races live and some as highlights. The show had featured one of the most iconic theme tunes in sport, with Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain".[4] 1979 saw James Hunt join the commentary booth alongside Walker after Hunt announced his retirement from racing that year and continued until his death in June 1993. Hunt would be succeeded by Jonathan Palmer. By the 1990s all of the races were broadcast live with the summer races shown as part of Sunday Grandstand, with highlights on the Grand Prix programme. Some qualifyings or races were shown live on Grand Prix due to other scheduled sports on Grandstand. Many of these live races were fronted by Steve Rider.

End of Grand Prix[edit]

In 1995 it was announced that the BBC had lost the television broadcast rights to Formula One to ITV for the 1997 season. Murray Walker would continue in his role as the lead commentator.[5] The BBC showed live coverage of the qualifying session in 1996. Prior to this qualifying was shown as a brief report during Grandstand, apart from qualifying for the British Grand Prix which was generally shown live and in full. The final race broadcast by the programme was the 1996 Japanese Grand Prix in which viewers saw Damon Hill win his only world championship. The loss of coverage was an example of BBC Sport department's decline in the late 1990s. It would be another thirteen years before the BBC regained rights to Formula One coverage in the United Kingdom.[6]

Some episodes are still available but hidden on the BBC's website.

Notable moments[edit]


  1. ^ F1 Racing, Issue: April 2012, Page 35
  2. ^ Saward, Joe (1 September 1996). "Behind the scenes at the BBC". Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "BBC Two England - 7 May 1978 - BBC Genome". 
  4. ^ "BBC F1 - Formula One Racing". 
  5. ^ F1 Racing, Issue: September 2011, Page 33
  6. ^ "The BBC wins rights to UK Formula One coverage". 

External links[edit]