John Inverdale

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John Inverdale
John Inverdale - Aegon Eastbourne (35678389225).jpg
Inverdale in 2017
John Inverdale

(1957-09-27) 27 September 1957 (age 64)
EducationClifton College, Cardiff Metropolitan University, University of Southampton
OccupationTelevision and radio presenter
EmployerBBC Sport, ITV Sport
Spouse(s)Jackie Inverdale

John Inverdale (born 27 September 1957) is an English broadcaster who works for both the BBC and ITV.

During his radio career, he has presented coverage of many major sporting events including the Olympic Games, Wimbledon, the Grand National and the FIFA World Cup.[1] He was the main television presenter of Today at Wimbledon until 2014 and has hosted television coverage of sports programmes including Rugby Special and Grandstand. He has presented ITV's coverage of the Rugby World Cup and the French Open.

Since 2013, Inverdale has been embroiled in several broadcasting controversies, which have prompted criticism as well as articles written in his defence.

Early life[edit]

Inverdale was born in Plymouth, Devon, the son of a Royal Navy dental surgeon, Captain John Inverdale, who played rugby union for Devonport Services.[citation needed] Inverdale was educated at Clifton College in Bristol and at the University of Southampton, graduating with a history degree in 1979. He was the editor of the student newspaper Wessex News (now Wessex Scene) and captained the university's tennis team for two years.[2]

After gaining a post-graduate journalism qualification at University of Wales Institute, Cardiff,[3] he began his career with two years at the Lincolnshire Echo, and then joined BBC Radio Lincolnshire in 1982.

Broadcasting career[edit]


Inverdale began to work on the BBC's national radio stations in 1985, firstly on Radio 2's sports unit where he presented the final edition of Sport on 2 in August 1990,[4] then between 1990 and 1994 at Radio 5, where he presented the flagship sports programme Sport on 5. In 1994 he became one of the main regular presenters on the relaunched BBC Radio 5 Live. He presented the drivetime show John Inverdale Nationwide until 1997, for which he was named Sony Broadcaster of the Year in 1997. At 5 Live, he hosted the topical show, Any Sporting Questions, a variation on Radio 4's Any Questions, and similarly toured the UK each week. In 2008 he broadcast for 5 Live from the Olympic Games in China. Along with Sir Steve Redgrave he appeared at Shunyi Rowing Lake for the Olympics in Beijing.

Inverdale headed 5 Live's coverage of the Wimbledon, Olympic and Commonwealth Games, football and rugby union World Cups, World Athletics Championships, Ryder Cup, Open Championship, London Marathon and Cheltenham Festival.

He has hosted the station's coverage of BBC Sports Personality of the Year and occasionally guest presented on Radio 2.

Inverdale left 5 Live in March 2019.[5]

In 2019 Inverdale provided radio commentary to Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup matches via the official audio commentary available through the TuneIn radio platform.


Inverdale worked extensively on Sky Sports during the channel's early years, most notably as presenter of Goals On Sunday and on their coverage of Serie A Italian football, where Alan Hansen regularly appeared alongside him as studio pundit.

Inverdale has also worked regularly for BBC Television. He became the BBC's main Rugby Union anchor in the 2006 Six Nations Championships following the departure of Steve Rider to ITV Sport. He led ITV's Rugby World Cup coverage in 2015.[6] He hosted BBC One's sports chat show, On Side between 1997 and 2001.[7] He presents the BBC's World Cup and Olympic Rowing coverage alongside Sir Steve Redgrave. In October 2012, he filmed several episodes of Channel 4 show Countdown. Inverdale has hosted ITV's live French Open coverage from Roland Garros since 2012.[8]

From 2000 to 2014 he presented Today at Wimbledon, BBC Two's nightly tennis highlights, until the format changed in 2015. This was mainly due to the 2013 Marion Bartoli controversy which led the BBC to drop Inverdale from the show. However, the new version Wimbledon 2Day hosted by Clare Balding was ridiculed by the public. Such was the unpopularity of Wimbledon 2Day, a Twitter campaign called "bring back John Inverdale" attracted thousands of supporters, with Inverdale claiming that he had "never been so popular."[9] The unpopular highlights show was ditched in 2016 and rebranded its original title, Today at Wimbledon. Inverdale is now a member of the main commentary team.

He appeared as himself in five episodes of 2016 BBC Three comedy Witless as the presenter of 'Witpro', a spoof video series about witness protection.

Inverdale stepped down from anchoring the BBC's rugby coverage in March 2021.[10]


Owing to his involvement in multiple broadcasting controversies, Inverdale has been dubbed as "gaffe-prone".[11]

Marion Bartoli[edit]

On 6 July 2013, the day of the Wimbledon Ladies Final, during a pre-match discussion on 5 Live with commentator Lindsay Davenport, Inverdale said of finalist and eventual winner Marion Bartoli: "I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, I just wonder if her dad did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, 'Listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker. You are never going to be somebody like a Sharapova, you're never going to be 5ft 11, you're never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that. You are going to have to be the most dogged, determined fighter that anyone has ever seen on the tennis court if you are going to make it', and she kind of is."[12]

Inverdale's words prompted criticism on Twitter and other social media, with some alleging they had complained of his "sexist and patronising" view of women's tennis in the past.[13]

Bartoli was yet to hear a recording of the incident[14] when asked about it at a press conference the following day. She responded: "It doesn't matter, honestly. I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I'm sorry. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes. And to share this moment with my dad was absolutely amazing and I am so proud of it."[15]

Inverdale himself apologised on air the next day for his "ham-fisted comments",[16] saying that he had "understandably caused something of a furore"[12] and that he had apologised to Bartoli by letter.[16] He also spoke to her at the Champions' Dinner that evening.[14] A BBC spokesman said: "We accept that this remark was insensitive and for that we apologise."[13]

BBC Director of News James Harding was asked at a Women in Journalism event the following week whether Inverdale ought to be sacked.[15] Harding said: "I think he said the wrong thing ... You have got to own your mistakes and apologise for them. I do think it's important that an apology too is an important thing and if you are talking about sacking someone, [you have to ask] is it proportionate. As a licence fee payer I think it was wrong."[15] In the initial days the BBC received 674 complaints;[17] further complaints were received after the story gained wider coverage.[18]

Culture Secretary Maria Miller wrote to BBC director general Lord Hall, expressing concern and asking about "any further action that is likely to be taken".[12] In his reply, Hall wrote, "I agree that the comments made by John during the build-up to the women's final were totally unacceptable and fell well beneath the standards we expect of our presenters." Hall added that BBC executives told Inverdale that "an incident of this nature must never happen again".[12] Racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks defended Inverdale as a "brilliant broadcaster" who "must not be hounded out of the BBC by Maria Miller". He asserted: "The [horse] racing industry should take this opportunity to embrace and support Inverdale. God only knows how many fans he has created with his enthusiasm and in-depth knowledge."[19]

In a joint interview with Bartoli the following year, as promotion for ITV Sport's 2014 French Open coverage, Inverdale said he believed Miller's intervention, ten days after the original incident, was likely politically motivated and part of an anti-BBC agenda. Bartoli said: "I'd known John a long time, and I knew what he was trying to say. At the end of the day I am a tennis player, I know I'm not 6ft tall, I'm not the same long, lean shape as Maria Sharapova, but the beauty of tennis is that anyone can win, tall or short. Something the press took to be negative to me was a positive... In my mind it was never really a story."[14]

2016 Summer Olympics[edit]

Inverdale received "intense criticism" while presenting the BBC's coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.[20] He and his co-host, Olympic rower Steve Redgrave, were seen to have "clashed" several times on television, with Redgrave allegedly being afforded little opportunity to speak. The talkative Inverdale called Redgrave Oddjob, the silent Bond villain as a reference to Redgrave's quiet personality. This led to negative social media commentary of Inverdale. Redgrave was observed directing jibes toward Inverdale, shaking a wet umbrella over his head and even walking off the set. The BBC denied any hostility between the two.[21]

Following the men's tennis gold medal final, Inverdale congratulated Andy Murray on being the first tennis player to win two gold medals; although Murray is the first player to lift two singles golds, Serena and Venus Williams had previously won four golds each between singles and doubles tennis. Inverdale's comment was criticised as sexist and also brought the 2013 Marion Bartoli controversy back to the fore on social media. The BBC stated that the comment was "a simple error".[22] Following the incident, Telegraph journalist Rob Bagchi wrote a piece titled "Why does everyone hate John Inverdale?", in which he defended Inverdale and suggested that critics were enjoying "the vicarious thrill in a sustained pile-on".[20] The article was shared on Twitter by broadcaster Jeremy Vine.[23]

Inverdale experienced further censure when he was accused of "ignoring" British heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua during an interview.[24] Some defended Inverdale, saying he was attempting to catch the eye of French boxer Sarah Ourahmoune, whom they had been speaking of; she eventually joined them to talk.[25]

On the final day of the Olympics coverage, Inverdale was criticised again during a boxing broadcast when he interrupted Joshua to speak about the victorious French boxer Tony Yoka and claimed that Yoka and his partner might have become the first engaged or married couple to both win gold medals at the same Olympics, in spite of British cyclists Laura Trott and her fiancé Jason Kenny both having won golds just days earlier, and married couple Kate Richardson-Walsh and Helen Richardson-Walsh having both won gold medals in the women's hockey just two days prior.[26]

The day after this final Rio 2016 controversy for Inverdale, Mark Davies of The Spectator penned an article titled "In defence of John Inverdale", in which he wrote that the broadcaster had been subjected to a large volume of "totally unwarranted" censure. Davies felt it was "clear" what Inverdale meant during the Murray and Yoka incidents and was doing "what all broadcast interviewers do" during the Joshua episode by looking for future interviewees.[27]


During a 2014 BBC One broadcast, Inverdale said that England – rather than Great Britain – would play the United States of America in that year's Davis Cup; he apologised later in the programme. The comment nevertheless sparked complaints from viewers who found it to be "inaccurate and biased". The BBC called it an "unintentional slip".[28]

During BBC Radio 5 Live's coverage of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival, Inverdale said "rose-cunted" on air, in reference to glasses. He swiftly apologised, attributing his language to a "slip of the tongue".[29] Ben Rumsby in The Telegraph called Inverdale's mistake "a genuinely unfortunate mangling of the words 'coloured' and 'tinted'".[30]

At the 2016 Wimbledon Championships, Inverdale commented that tennis player Nick Kyrgios "lumbered off like a character from The Jungle Book", which led to allegations of racism on social media.[31] The BBC declined to comment on the incident, beyond describing the number of complaints received as "small".[32]

Awards and personal life[edit]

Inverdale received a Doctor of Letters honorary degree from the University of Southampton in July 2001. He was awarded an honorary fellowship to the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC) in November 2009.[citation needed]

Inverdale lives in Branston, Lincolnshire with his wife and two daughters.[33] He made national news in 2005 when his face appeared in many newspapers showing the scars he received whilst playing rugby union for Esher.[34][35] He is a fan of both Southampton and Lincoln City football clubs.[36]

In 2005 Inverdale became a patron of charity Cardiac Risk in the Young.


  1. ^ "John Inverdale Biography". Speakers Corner. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  2. ^ Sale, Jonathan (30 July 2008). "Passed/Failed: An education in the life of John Inverdale, sports broadcaster". The Independent.
  3. ^ "TV presenter Inverdale signs up to save the Vulcan pub". Wales Online. Media Wales. 11 November 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  4. ^ "BBC Genome Project". Sport on 2. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  5. ^ "John Inverdale to leave BBC Radio 5 Live after 25 years". Radio Today. 15 March 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  6. ^ "ITV announces Rugby World Cup 2015 line-up". Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  7. ^ "BBC SPORT - ON SIDE". Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  8. ^ ITV Sport announces French Open Line-Up, ITV Press Release, 14 May 2014
  9. ^ Ward, Victoria (3 July 2015). "John Inverdale declares he has 'never been so popular' as backlash grows over BBC's revamped Wimbledon highlights". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  10. ^ "Face of BBC rugby coverage John Inverdale quits after 30 years". Wales Online. 30 March 2021. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  11. ^ The following outlets have labelled Inverdale as "gaffe-prone":
  12. ^ a b c d "John Inverdale's Bartoli remark prompts Miller letter". BBC. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  13. ^ a b Patrick Sawer and Claire Duffin "Wimbledon 2013: BBC apologise for John Inverdale's 'Bartoli not a looker’ comment",, 6 July 2013
  14. ^ a b c "Marion Bartoli and John Inverdale put aside last year's gaffe to present ITV's French Open coverage", Radio Times, 25 May 2014
  15. ^ a b c O'Carrell, Lisa (9 July 2013). "John Inverdale's Marion Bartoli comments 'wrong', says BBC news chief". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  16. ^ a b "John Inverdale 'has written to Marion Bartoli over remark'", BBC News, 7 July 2013
  17. ^ BBC receives 674 complaints over John Inverdale's 'sexist' Marion Bartoli comments, The Independent, 8 July 2013
  18. ^ John Inverdale’s ‘sexist’ complaints hit 1,250, Sunday Express, 21 July 2013
  19. ^ Brooks, Charlie (28 July 2013). "John Inverdale must not be hounded out of the BBC by Maria Miller for comments about Marion Bartoli". The Telegraph. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  20. ^ a b "Why does everyone hate John Inverdale?". Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  21. ^ Graham, Chris (13 August 2016). "Sir Steve Redgrave and John Inverdale in another on-air spat during BBC coverage of Rio Olympics". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  22. ^ Blair, Olivia (15 August 2016). "John Inverdale sparks everyday sexism row with claim Andy Murray is first tennis player to win two Olympic golds". The Independent. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  23. ^ Vine, Jeremy (19 August 2016). "2:44 AM - 19 Aug 2016". Jeremy Vine on Twitter. Twitter. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  24. ^ Davis, Callum (18 August 2016). "BBC's John Inverdale accused of 'ignoring' Anthony Joshua during 'disrespectful' interview". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  25. ^ Worley, Will (19 August 2016). "Rio 2016: John Inverdale accused of being 'monumentally rude' to Anthony Joshua". The Independent. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  26. ^ "Did John Inverdale Make A 'Golden Couple' Gaffe?". 21 August 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  27. ^ Davies, Mark (22 August 2016). "In defence of John Inverdale". The Spectator. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  28. ^ "BBC defend 'unintentional' Inverdale gaffe after presenter says England rather than GB playing US in Davis Cup". The Herald. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  29. ^ Riach, James (10 March 2015). "John Inverdale apologises for X-rated comment on Cheltenham coverage". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  30. ^ Rumsby, Ben (10 March 2015). "Cheltenham 2015: John Inverdale apologises for making x-rated comment on air". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 March 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  31. ^ Ramgobin, Ryan (16 August 2016). "John Inverdale: The BBC Rio 2016 broadcaster's most controversial moments". The Independent. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  32. ^ "BBC's John Inverdale likens Wimbledon tennis star to Jungle Book character". The Guardian. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  33. ^ Lincolnshire Sports Awards 2012 – Our Presenter John Inverdale. Retrieved on 27 March 2013.
  34. ^ John Inverdale Exclusive: Rugby thug stamped on my head, 16 December 2005
  35. ^ Player cited over Inverdale 'stamping' The Telegraph, 21 December 2005
  36. ^ Quick-fire round: John Inverdale | Sport | The Observer. (10 February 2011). Retrieved on 27 March 2013.

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