A bit like a British winner – better late than never

Well as the dark nights close in Wimbledon is just a dim and distant memory in what was a wonderful summer, but I am in the mood to write and I never really felt I brought this blog to a conclusion. It has given me time to see how Sky treat the football season, and the Ashes and Formula One and how both Sky and Eurosport treated the next great tennis tournament after Wimbledon, the US Open. And then compare these to how the BBC treated Wimbledon.

Firstly let’s reflect on Wimbledon as a tournament. There were shocks, there were surprises, there were early upsets and those that held on a lot longer than we thought they would. There were slips and pain, tears and laughter, and there was pride. Even more importantly than all that there was a male British winner, and I cried like a baby watching Andy Murray lift the trophy that, not only did he work extremely hard for, but he deserved. At the beginning of a tournament I will make my prediction on who I think will win. Not based on rankings, or fitness, or current ability but merely on who I think wants it most. This year I believed from the start that no one wanted to lift that trophy more than Andy Murray. I’ll let you into a little secret, I still have Andy Murray kissing the trophy as my screen saver on my phone!

But the point of this blog was not to comment on how Wimbledon was as a tournament but how it was from viewer’s perspective watching on the BBC? Well firstly let’s just say that I HAVE to watch Wimbledon on the BBC as there is no alternative. Now as an avid sports viewer I am willing to pay for Sky Sports. My husband watches the golf, if you haven’t guessed yet I am a fan of the tennis, we both love Football, and can also be quite partial to the cricket, darts and the odd game of Rugby (League). This year I can watch a multitude of football matches on several days of the week, to watch the Ashes I had a dedicated channel, if I want to watch the Formula one, again I have a dedicated channel. (Although I don’t need to watch that channel as without knowing absolutely anything about F1 I am currently sitting 4th in a fantasy league after coming 3rd last year!) I don’t think there is any other TV package that will ever truly compete with Sky Sports, although many seem to want to try. I don’t know if Sky will ever show Wimbledon, I know that there will be thousands of people who will be upset if they do, but when I watch sports on Sky I feel that there is a pride and a passion there. I used to get this when I watched Wimbledon on the BBC, but now all I get is infuriated.

Growing up I felt that the BBC knew everything there possibly was to know about tennis and Wimbledon and that no one could rival that knowledge. After watching the US open, it felt like Eurosport had not only been to tennis university, but that they had left it with a masters degree. They knew what they were talking about, they had the big name commentators and they had the post-game interviews. Deep down in my heart I don’t want to stop watching Wimbledon on the BBC. The BBC and Wimbledon is a duo that goes together like Strawberries and cream, but maybe that is the problem. Maybe the BBC have become complacent. I have spoken to many people who watch Wimbledon and not one of them has had anything positive to say about the coverage. As I have said before yes the BBC know tennis, but it doesn’t seem to know its viewer very well. At no point over the last few years have I felt, whilst watching Wimbledon, that anyone cared about my enjoyment, about my viewing experience.

I’ve just re-read this blog from start to finish and my head is spinning. It was like watching Wimbledon all over again. I didn’t know if I was coming or going and I really don’t know how to conclude. The question I wanted to answer was ‘Should the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon be done?’ The truth is it’s not good. It’s infuriating, it’s irritating, it’s badly planned, it’s badly executed, it has been getting steadily worse for a few years when the BBC keep telling us it’s getting better. Unfortunately they seem to think that trying to throw more and more technology at us, is a replacement for actually being able to sit down and watch a full match on one channel uninterrupted. Until the BBC start seeing Wimbledon through our eyes instead of through their eyes I can’t see it ever getting any better. Would I be elated if Sky announced they were going to show next year’s tournament? Yes. Would I be sad if I never got to watch Wimbledon on the BBC again? I honestly think I would. But since I can’t see either of these scenarios happening any time soon, same time, same place, same irritations next year folks?


Day 11 – To HAVE and to hold (the remote control)

I feel, well I don’t know how I feel.  Friday was certainly an emotional rollercoaster.  First there was the thrill and pure enjoyment of the Djokovic match.  It was adrenaline fuelled fun. A pure joy to watch.  It had thrills, it had spills, there was drama, there was laughter but most of all there was amazing tennis.  Congratulations must go to both players.  My daughter kept asking me who I wanted to win and the answer was, I genuinely didn’t know.  I like Djockovic.  He is a nice person with a good sense of humour who shows dexterity onto the court usually akin to gymnastics not tennis players. But I usually route for the underdog and I suppose technically Del Potro was the underdog.  It is true that in any sport sometimes it is much more enjoyable to watch a match when you are a neutral supporter.

Then came the Murray match, and something happened that unnerved me.  Something that I am still replaying in my head as I genuinely don’t know how to feel about.  Something that I never thought would happen in my lifetime.  Something I actually didn’t think was possible.   Sue Barker lied to me!

‘We have to change channels’ she said.  And it was that use of the word HAVE.  That was a blatant lie. You don’t HAVE to, Sue.  You really don’t HAVE to.  I’m not saying that from the point of an angry viewer that is HAVING to change channels every two minutes.  Although I am an angry viewer that is HAVING to change channels every two minutes.  And I’m even angrier when half an hour later I HAVE to change back to the channel that I HAD to turn off half an hour ago.  I’m saying it from the point of view that it is just a big fat lie because two days previously I could watch the match straight through on BBC1 and the News could be moved onto BBC2.  If this is possible on a Wednesday then I don’t see how it suddenly isn’t possible on a Friday.   Basically what I have gained from the BBC is that they think that a quarter final is more important than a semi final.  A quarter final is sooooo important that you can move all the other shows around to fit it, but a semi final is that un-important that you have to channel flick like a teenager who wants to watch a dirty movie but is scared they’ll be caught by their parents.

I HAVE tried to stay quite diplomatic through this blog.  I HAVE tried to argue my case in a well thought out manner.  I HAVE tried to use reason and calmly explain that how the BBC have brought us Wimbledon is shameful and unacceptable, but now all I really want to do is shout.  C’MON BBC!  BBC1, THEN BBC2, THEN BBC1.  DO YOU THINK THIS IS ACCEPTABLE? DO YOU??? THINK THIS IS GOOD? THREE CHANNELS?  FOR ONE MATCH?  REALLLY????????? REALLY?????????

You don’t HAVE to change the channel BBC, but I do HAVE to vent this anger.  Thankfully it doesn’t take me long to calm down….


Day 10 (and a half) – He’s (probably) behind you!

I joked at the beginning of this blog that the best way to watch Wimbledon on the BBC was with a remote in one hand and Valium in the other.  Well when I said it I thought it was a joke, but last night I did watch the Murray match with the remote control in my hand.  (No valium, but I was extremely tempted to have a large vodka after that match!) And why did I have the remote control in my hand?  Well because the Murray match was on BBC1 and the news was coming on.  And if we have learnt anything so far from these two weeks it is that the new is always shown on BBC1 isn’t it?


Last night the BBC decided that the Murray match was so exciting that it must stay on BBC1.  Well I won’t argue with the fact that it was exciting.  Neither will the sore throat I have today from screaming at the telly.  But why must it stay on BBC1 when none of the other matches have?  In fact last night’s, and indeed the past week and a half’s, scheduling just leads to a whole host of Who, What and Why questions?

Who are the BBC trying to please?  They are certainly not pleasing the tennis fans.  This is simple to see from the Facebook comments.  All we want to do is watch one match continuously and uninterrupted.   I doubt they are pleasing the Heir Hunters (I think I got it right this time) viewers who would probably just like their programme to stay on the same channel so they don’t have to go hunting for it two weeks of every year.   I’m pretty sure they are not pleasing the News viewers who have to assess the drama and excitement of a match before they can have a clue as to what channel their programme will be on.  But I am absolutely damn sure that they are not pleasing the thousands and thousands of viewers who are at work.  Those who have set up all the Wimbledon programmes to record only to find out that they can’t watch what they wanted to watch because the BBC can put the coverage where they, want when they want. Imagine (and yes I am dramatizing for effect here) you are a surgeon at the very top of your game.  You have worked a fourteen hour shift, saving lives and working under enormous stress and pressure but the one thing that is getting you through the day is the knowledge that you can watch the Murray match when you get home.  OH NO YOU CAN’T!  Cos the BBC didn’t show it where they said they were so you don’t have it recorded.  Who at the BBC possibly thinks that this scheduling is any good?

What really is the point of the BBC changing channels so often?  What are they trying to prove? What are they trying to achieve from it?  So far I have not seen one single positive comment about the BBC’s scheduling.  In fact because of this it pushes me to want the tennis to be on other channels.  There have been a few tournaments leading up to Wimbledon that have been on both the BBC and Eurosport.  I feel that the BBC has a better reputation for broadcasting tennis. I feel that they have better and more knowledgeable pundits and commentators.  I feel that they are closer to the players and have a better relationship with them BUT despite all this I would still rather watch the tennis on Eurosport.  Simply because I know that if I have a loo or a brew break I will still be watching what I want to watch when I come back.

Why do the BBC think this is good scheduling or good viewing?  Why do the channels have to be swapped for Wimbledon?  I’m more than happy to watch BBC2 for two weeks solid.  Why is there not a better way?  Like many people have pointed out BBC3 and BBC4 are not utilised during the day.  Why not use these channels?  Or even the HD channels. They don’t always show the same programmes as BBC1 and BBC2 so surely it is possible to have the sport on the HD channels and Escape to the Country….well not escaping its regular slot! But more importantly why are tennis fans treated so badly?  Now there are many people that will argue that they have to put up with tennis for these two weeks and I appreciate that tennis is not everybody’s thing.  But can you name me another sport you would watch, especially when the national team/team members are playing, where you would have to turn channels half way through?  Would it happen in the football? Rugby? Cricket? Formula one?  OH NO IT WOULDN’T!

The more and more that I watch Wimbledon this year the more I think the BBC is becoming one big pantomime.

Day 8 – No1’s on 1, no 2, no 1, no…

I don’t want to watch the Djokovic match.  I like Djokovic.  I think he’s a nice person and an amazing tennis player.  (I would have said phenomenal but I can’t spell it!)  But I don’t want to the Djokovic match.  This isn’t something I have decided but rather  something the BBC appear to have decided for me.

It was going quite well.  I was actually feeling quite positive about the BBC as I have now got more than one match on my interactive.  Unfortunately every other piece of their coverage has fallen to bits today.  And none more so than the interactive.

Again at work today (why I have offered to do so many hours while Wimbledon is on is beyond me)  I had to use the BBC’s website to keep up to date with the Robson score.  This was going well until it came to the tie breaker.  According to the BBC’s website the page refreshes every two minutes.  This means that the Robson Kanepi tie break only took two minutes because I didn’t get a score update until the tie break had finished.  Now I appreciate that tie breaks don’t always take that long to play out but considering it took longer than two minutes for my husband to tell me what happened I’m pretty sure that the actual tie breaker took more than two minutes.

Husband has been brilliant.  He likes his sport, but tennis is my thing.  However this year he seems less resigned to the fact that we will be watching tennis for two weeks solid and more actually into it.  He’s even getting (nearly) as annoyed as I am, to the point that he sent me an email at work today telling me that he’d had to change channels during the Robson match.

I was home in time to watch the Murray match, and wasn’t as annoyed with the channel change during this match as I new(s) it was coming.  (Do you get it??)  I get that the news was coming on and the BBC won’t change the news.  What I don’t get is why they are happy to change all the other programmes when it doesn’t make anyone’s life any easier.  I have said on here that I always think it’s due to ratings, but surely if they are putting the Murray match on BBC1 because they think it is going to pull in more ratings than Bargain Hunt (or whatever is on BBC2, that should be on BBC1, on an afternoon) then all the people watching it will turn over to BBC2 and it will get higher ratings than the news so surely they should just leave it on BBC1 in the first place.  (My head hurts so much writing this sometimes that you can only imagine how much it spins when I’m actually watching it!)  Incidentally, the first half of the Robson match was shown on BBC2 so that the news could be shown on BBC1, then after the news ended Robson made that great leap to BBC1.

So the Robson match was done, the Murray match was completed.  What seemed like the next logical thing to view?  The world number one that’s what.  You really think I would have learnt by now not to expect the BBC to do anything logical, but I was mildly surprised that the BBC2 coverage was not showing the match.  However excited about the choice I now knew I had I pressed that trusty red button where I revelled in the fact I could watch an uninterrupted stream of the Djokovic match.  Well it wasn’t quite interrupted as we had visitors so it was on in the back ground meaning I could keep an eye on it.  And after a while I turned the eye that I was keeping on it towards the telly.  Only to find out that I was watching a completely different match.  So I pressed another coloured button to go to the menu and find the Djokovic match again. 

Now some of you who are passers-by and reading this is a way to pass five minutes might not believe this.  Those of you who are dedicated followers of Wimbledon will also probably shake your head in disbelief, but will know from your own experiences that this is totally possible.  The next time I looked at the TV I wasn’t watching the Djokovic match – again. And again I had to return to the menu and find out where the Djokovic match was being shown now.  So today to watch the Robson match – you had to change channel half way through.  To watch the Murray match – you had to change channel half way through.

And to watch the Djokivic match?  Well you pretty much had to do the Hokey Cokey.

Day 6 – Well if they can

Ok so I know that I am late with this and I know it’s not day 6, and I hopefully will be catching up with day 8 later on but if the BBC can change channels at the drop of a hat then I don’t see why I can’t change days.  I actually feel like I’m on a hidden camera show at the moment.  I was at work on Saturday and it was quite flexible on when I could take my lunch.  So with one eye on the customers and one eye on the tennis (don’t tell the boss!) as soon as the BBC website said that Robson was warming up I was like a whippet out of a trap.  We have a TV in the break room, but I know that not everyone is as obsessed as I am.  So I stuck my head tentatively into the room where I was welcomed in by the tennis on the TV and some of our friendly cleaning team.  We sat and watched for a while.  We chatted, we commented, we cheered and offered encouragement as Laura lost the first set.  Then one by one the cleaning team left and suddenly I was alone.  And it was then that the director of the hidden camera show shouted to the powers that be at the BBC ‘do it now!’  And sure enough I was told that to keep watching the match I had to change channels.  It did actually go in my favour that there was no one in the room, as it meant that there was no one to witness my mini outburst at the TV.

Now as we have already established I am behind writing this blog. It also means that I know the result of the match after the one that I am about to talk about.  Indeed I could have easily missed today out as, as stated, I was at work so there was only the one channel change that I had to cope with.  However I thought the super Saturday should be celebrated.  Laura Robson pulled off a remarkable comeback.  I even watched the match on Sunday, knowing the result, and at a set and a break down I still couldn’t see how she was going to win the match.

Like I said I now know SPOILER ALERT that Robson is out of Wimbledon, but instead of today being about how many twist and turns we have had (and I mean with the remote control, not on the court). I would like today to be about Laura Robson.  A young girl that came into this tournament with most people thinking she would be out in the first round.  A British tennis player that has played some amazing tennis and has really put her stamp on the game.  A wonderful woman who has shown how she can quite easily become a force to be reckoned with.  This may be the year that everyone thinks Andy Murray can do it.  That for the moment remains to be seen, but one thing from Wimbledon 2013 is definite.  Wimbledon 2013 was the year the Laura Robson really put her name on the tennis map.  Well done Laura.

Day 5 – No news is….well on the other channel.

I was in a good mood.  I’d had a good day at work and the timings had worked well for me.  I managed to get my break just as Laura Robson was coming out onto court.  I ended up covering reception in the afternoon where there just happens to be a TV, which just happened to be put on BBC2.  Purely to keep any visitors up to date with the marvel that was unfolding on centre court you understand.  And what a marvel it was.  Laura Robson making light work of her delayed second round match.

Then I managed to get home from work before the Murray match started.  I was home, I was change, I had my tea on my knee and BBC 1 on the telly.  Where I got to watch a whole…..1 game before I had to change the channel. 

Irritated by this I started talking to my husband about the next time that I would have to change the channel, to me it tells you that there is something wrong when I can accurately predict the next time that I will have to turn over.  Sure enough the BBC did not let me down and an hour later I was having to turn back to the channel that I had been watching an hour ago.

If that wasn’t bad enough at 7.30 Sue Barker’s voice came on to tell us that Question of Sport was now going to be on BBC2.  She actually said ‘I’m not sure how I feel about that’. Well I know how I feel about it. Blooming annoyed Sue.  As does my sister who came home from walking the dogs, put the channel on that said it was showing Wimbledon and assumed the match was over as they were showing something completely different.  Aside from me telling her there was no way no way of her, and those viewers that had come in late, knowing that the match had been moved.  And it can’t just be the Wimbledon viewers that are annoyed.  No one can know what channel the programme they want to watch is going to be on.  For viewers of Wimbledon/The One Show/Question of Sport there is just no logical reason to be swapping channels like this.  All the BBC seem to want to do is alienate all their viewers at the same time.

Except viewers of the news.  It appears that the news is hallowed ground that cannot be moved and everyone else must work around it.